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I have made a quintet of crocodiles or alligators this summer (not sure what the difference is), but I've been having a lot of fun and I am sure you would to if you have the inclination!

Step 1: The Magic of Papier Mache

To make my croc/allies I have used the technique called papier mache.

Before you begin, you will need to gather together your basic supplies, which are as follows:

flour
slightly warm water
salt
newspaper
mixing bowl (lined with a plastic grocery bag for ease of clean-up)
the "bobbly" tops of empty egg cartons, (I used the plastic kind
many wire coat hangers
masking tape (I used several rolls!)
plastic grocery bags saved from the land-fill

Step 2: Form the Form

Whenever you papier mache something, you need a form over which to slap on the newspaper and paste.

When making my crocodiles I made my form out of plastic bags stuffed with plastic bags and scrunched up newspaper over wire coat hangars. I elongated the creature by starting at the head end and roughly forming the shape I wanted and then added on from there until I got to the tail. With this rough shape all ready, I used cheap masking tape to keep it all together.

Incidentally, the last crocodile I made had one of those polystyrene noodles that are used in swimming pools or at the beach to help with the stability, as well as coathangers and plastic bags!

Step 3: The Shape of Things to Come!

In the picture you can see that I had my shape, all nicely covered over with the masking tape. The arms and legs of the critter were formed by two pairs of coat hangers, bound round with plastic grocery bags and taped securely into place.

After the shape was formed I cut up the "bobbly "parts of empty egg boxes and strapped them along the back - again using masking tape. I also used two "bobbly bits" for nostrils and two for a pair of eyes.

Step 4: Mixing the Paste

In a mixing bowl, mix together the flour, water and two tablespoons of salt.

The mixture should be nice and creamy and definitely not too runny of have lumps in it.

Step 5: Tear the Newspaper in Irregular Pieces and Strips

Newspaper is the best paper to use in my opinion., It is more absorbant than other paper, and cheaper too!

Tear the paper into irregular pieces and strips. Do not cut the paper, as torn edges blend and meld better together to make a smoother finish. Apply the strips onto the form and overlap them using plenty of paste with a brush, sponge or your fingers.

Step 6: Doing the Papier Mache Bit

Here's the crocodile all papier mached over - egg cartons and all. To give my croc some sort of feet I cut out triangular pieces of cardboard and attached them to the legs very securely before I started covering with papier mache. Pay special attention to where the legs joine the body, as these are the weakest points of the structure. I did quite a bit of reinforcement to these areas with thin cardboard and extra layers of papier. If you don't make these areas strong, the legs will crack at the shoulder and thigh joints, because of the weight of the limbs. Old toilet roll middles and paper towel middles are very useful here. Also the cardboard in the middle of all that masking tape comes in useful too! Two or three coats of newspaper need to be added with drying out taking place between applications. Sometime cracking will occur when the form is dry, and you may have to reinforce some more with cardboard and then repapier!


Hint: use very small pieces of newspaper to cover over the "bobbly" bits of the egg carton, and make sure every piece of tape is covered. This will make it much easier to paint when it has dried out.

When the form is completely DRY, you can sand-paper lightly to remove any roughness.

Step 7: Painting the Beast!

I always think painting is the most fun, and you can really have a great time painting your creation.

I used a lot of green acrylic paint before I was done!. However, before using any green paint, I painted the creature white all over to make sure all the newsprint was well hidden.

When the white paint was dry, I painted the underside of the croc in light green and the top part in dark green.

To achieve lumps and bumps on the top of my beast I used blobs of fabric paint and waited for the blobs to dry, and then painted them over with green paint.

In the photo you can see that I achieved a toe like effect for the front legs, by cutting points into the triangular piece of cardboard before it was attached or painted.

Step 8: Finishing Touches

When my croc was completely dry, I added the finishing touches, i.e. the eyes. I also painted a black line round the croc where the two green colours met, to define the areas. I also painted dark green lines over the belly.

When the critter was completely dry, I sprayed a clear finish over him to help preserve for posterity!

Step 9: A Plethora of Crocs

I don't know what the collective noun for a group of crocodiles is! Maybe my fellow instructablers know and will let me know.

Anyway, I eventually made five beasts, plus a solitary head!

These creatures will now lurk in my garden and perhaps scare away the squirrels, but I will have to make sure they come in on rainy days - in case they melt!

Happy Days!
I'm not sure of the biological difference, but the easiest way to tell them apart is that if the teeth are visible with the mouth closed it's a crocodile, otherwise it's an alligator (doesn't apply to animals kept in captivity).
I thought that the difference was that crocodiles eat Australians, aligators eat hillbillies?
That's HillWilliam to you sir! The preferred term is "Redneck" or "Cracker". Hillfolk are found in Appalachia , alligators are not. Plus, we have crocodiles here too.
HillWilliams - I like that!
I steal from the best. ;-)

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Bio: Born in England many years ago, moved to California in 1980, moved to New York in 1993, became a US citizen. Favourite place to visit ... More »
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