Sunday, August 19, 2012

DIY: Papier-Mâché Taxidermy, Part 1


Once upon a time there was a girl who loved all things Anthropologie. She may have mentioned or alluded to it before on one or more occasions, but bottom line: the romance lives and breathes and dies for delicately beautiful decor, flowy tops and intricate jewels. 

Yet as all tragic love stories would have it, this girl had one issue standing in the way of expressing her unrequited love to her beloved store: coin. 

That's right, folks. Maybe some people have $68-198 laying around for animal bust wall decor, but I for one do not. What I do have, though, is newspaper, masking tape and an affinity for getting my hands dirty (I should note in actuality I hate having dirty hands and cringe at the feel of newspaper ink on my hands and so should you). Plus access to the Internet from where, sadly, I steal borrow all my ideas. Ok, to be fair, only most of my ideas are acquired this way.

Now, I know I am somewhat late to jump on this trend. For ages, people have been hanging animal busts, heads, bodies, etc. on their walls and ceilings and doors. Ok maybe not doors. That'd be weird.  Point being, it's nothing new. But I tell you this: when an empty spot on your wall beckons, you answer. Usually with something a bit more normal than a fox head, but hey - I have never laid claim on normal and unapologetically never will.

Anyway, I spent Sunday working to create Sr. Fox (he's Hispanic, sowhatwhocares?). Below is a tutorial for making your very own.

Stay tuned for next steps: stirring up some papier-mâché and getting to work on covering the little guy, a day or two of drying and perhaps a splash of acrylic paint. I'm not a huge fan of the newspaper look, but it's old-fashioned and I respect it. To a degree, it saddens me that he won't be fluffy as all foxes should be, but paint will hold up better long-term.


Part 1:

What you'll need to create your own:
-masking tape
-cardboard or another sturdy material for any ears, horns or other especially important body parts (I used a Chinet plate)
-inspiration, duh
-creativity, double duh

Time: Under 2 hours

This project originally started with me papier-mâché-ing a balloon (and actually, initial brainstorms yielded a desire to make a peacock) but, not surprisingly, that was a massive fail. Tell me, how can a few layers of papier mâché hold up against, you know, the day-in-and-day-out abuse that living room walls endure? Answer: it cannot.

After some searching around on the inter-webs, I found a few DIY tutorials (see: here and here) that made a little more sense logistically. 

I started with a ball of newspaper and added layer upon layer, taping all over the place, until I started to get some resemblance of a head. I'm making a fox head, yet here we have what appears to be an elephant. 

When you encounter a shape that in no way resembles what you're aiming for, just keep going. Add more tape. Add more paper. Tape some more. It's the best advice I can give.

Fox ears are sneakily cute and equally important in contributing to the creature's sly nature. I enlisted the help of a Chinet plate for these and what's great about the plate is that a) it's relatively sturdy and b) the rim of the plate gives you a slight curve that is perfect for a curvy, adorable little fox ear. I should sell this stuff - or I am happy to take commission on the influx of Chinet sales that will inevitably follow this post. Am I right or am I right?

Side note: I am so green. This plate was formerly used as a paint palette for my Vogue painting project.


At this point, my sweet little fox began looking more like a species of the Felidae (cat) family than the Canidae (dog) family (it's science, guys). At one point I thought to myself, "maybe I'll scratch the fox idea and do a lion." But foxes, y'all. They are so cute and it just. makes. sense. for my living room wall. And so I forged on.

But wait! From this angle, he looks like a pig (or, Suidae family, from the ever-reliable Wikipedia). In truth, my piece experimented with many different biological classifications before rightfully and comfortably settling on fox.

I hate repeating myself but I urge you: use more tape. Add more newspaper. Tape, tape, tape. And so the fox-like snout began to form.

Homeboy fox had an unrefined back of the head at this point so I pushed and pulled and taped it down to make it smoother and more resembling of a head instead of a lumpy sack of potatoes (as if any sack of potatoes could be lacking of lumps).

If I were making an animal that had a more prominent neck, I would have built that here but since foxes have short, furry little necks I just created a "block" of newspaper that will, at some point, attach enable me to hang this little guy on the wall. Probably some sort of wood plaque would make sense. Plus I could paint it.

I know what you're thinking here: "Lucy, you didn't use nearly enough masking tape." I agree. One roll is not even close to enough for an approximately 8-inch ball of newspaper.

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