Introduction: Elly My Baby Elephant

Here is another of my paper mache projects. This baby elephant was made using a 3D pattern from Jonni Goods Amazing website There is a small charge for this elephant pattern but there are others including a Jack Rabbit, Frog and Bear which are free. Again I strongly urge you to check this site out if you are thinking of getting into paper mache or indeed even if you have some experience. All recipes for the paper clay and gesso used can also be found on this site. This instructable is basically taken from my guest posting on this site as well.

Step 1: 3D Pattern Assembled.

There is a bit of work involved with these 3D patterns. Firstly you need to print them out onto thin card then cover the pattern with plastic adhesive book cover as it will be getting wet and card on it's own will not stand up to this.Then cut out the individual pieces then sellotape them all together. This gives you the overall shape as you see in the photo above. This makes it real easy to get the look right as it is pretty much done for you. Then as paper mache will not adhere well to plastic you cover it all in masking tape.

Cutting out and assembling the pattern is time consuming but I actually find this part of the process very enjoyable and in some ways theraputic.

For the eyes you need a polystyrene ball approx 1 1/2 in diameter. Cut it in half and glue half into each eye socket first then stuff the inside cavity including the trunk tight and compact with tin foil. I stuffed the trunk separately first then attached it to the rest of the head then stuffed the head. Next time I think I will try bubble wrap for this as I seem to accumulate heaps of it at work and I hate waste especially plastic.

Next was a complete covering in masking tape.

Step 2: Adding the Paper Mache and Paper Clay.

Now for the fun part.

Now I like to apply at least one good layer of paper mache. This firms everything up nicely and gives the following clay a nice surface to adhere to.

Taking what I learned from previous projects I wanted to make sure I did not have to sand her eyeballs after all the clay and gesso was applied or lose their nice rounded shape at all so, after the first and only layer of paper mache strips and paste all over, I applied a coat of gesso, to her eyes. When this was dry I sanded it to a nice smooth finish. This helped ensure I kept the original round shape produced by the polystyrene balls inserted in the cardboard pattern.I then applied a very thin layer of paper clay not worrying too much about texture or features at this stage except for her nostrils and tongue. Nostrils were done with the handle of an artists paint brush as were the inner folds of her trunk.Then another layer of paper clay,taking time now to add features like the bigger wrinkles on the front of her trunk and ears and eyelids. As far as tools go these were all done with whatever worked best. Old knives, spoons, pens, paint brush handles, anything really that gives you the effect you want. Use whatever works best for you. An artists pallet knife kept wet was an invaluable tool to help smooth it all out into an even layer

After taking time to experiment, (no matter what your project or thing is, I strongly urge you do this as eventually you will hit on something that really works, don’t rush any part of the process), with different types of paper I found that a very thin single ply toilet paper when applied wet onto the still wet clay with a brush instantly crinkled up into the perfect elephant skin effect.

After letting the first layer dry I applied another to accentuate this effect.

Step 3: Painting

Painting was easy as it was two different shades of an overall color. All paints were acrylics. First a lighter grey applied with a brush, then when that was properly dry a slightly darker grey applied with a cloth. I wiped the darker grey on and then lightly wiped it off. This allowed the lighter color to still show through. Then I filled all wrinkles in with black again wiping the bulk of it off to leave just the deeper pits and hollows black. Wiping it off like this also meant that the black kind of smudged onto areas adding a third shade to her skin.

For the eyes I used yellow ochre for the main color then mixed a little white with it for the iris details with black pupils and white reflection spots. For the pupils I cut two circles, one on top of the other, out of a piece of tissue paper, then glued these circles on with a light coat of PVA or Elmers glue. This ensures you get two pupils the same size. (One problem I have had in my three previous projects is symmetry so anything that helps makes this part easier I do not hesitate to use because as with my Bullfrog, one eye larger than the other spoiled the overall effect. Then I top coated the eyes with two coats of clear nail varnish finished off top and bottom with false eyelashes (purchased for me by my daughter) glued on with a 5 minute clear epoxy glue.

Elly was born.