How to Make a Paper Mache French Bulldog

About: Hi. I'm Richard Neuman. I started making Paper Mache Props for Halloween and didn't stop! Lately I've been making Tiki statues and other outdoor garden sculptures.

Frenchies are lot of fun. They love attention and have lots of energy until they run out of gas. The perfect inspiration!

For this project I uses several different paper mache methods, but you can swap out your own techniques to your liking. There’s no wrong way to Paper Mache!

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Step 1: Supplies

  • White PVA Glue (Or wood glue, or flour)
  • Newspaper
  • Blue shop towels (optional)
  • Cardboard
  • Masking Tape
  • Tin foil
  • Hot Glue
  • Air-dry clay or Paper mache Clay
  • Joint compound
  • Sculpey
  • Acrylic paint
  • Pencil Crayons

Step 2: Make a Cardboard Template

Start with a good profile image. Blow it up to the actual size of your project and print it out. This Paper Mache French Bulldog is about 1 foot tall and 17 inches long so I used several pieces of paper stapled together.

Cut out the paper image and trace in onto thick cardboard, like from a box. This will be the Master Profile.

Step 3: Make Templates for the Legs

The idea is to separate the project into simple shapes that you can easily paper mache, assemble them together, then add the detail.

Cut the legs and “dog shoulders” out of the paper template and trace them onto 4 separate pieces of cardboard. Then cut the legs off the master profile. You now have 5 fairly simple shapes to paper mache; 4 Legs, and the main body.

Step 4: Bulk Out

Bulk out the Body and legs with newspaper and tape them into shape with masking tape. Form the paws into shape with tinfoil and hot glue them on the legs.

Step 5: Paper Mache the Body and Head

For my paper mache mix I used 50/50 glue and water. I use wood glue because I do a lot of outdoor projects. White Elmers’s (PVA) glue or flour will work just as well. You only need a couple layers of newspaper at this stage. We will be adding another layer after the legs are attached to the main body to give it more strength.

Step 6: Paper Mache the Legs

As the legs are smaller, more rounded shapes than the body, I used blue shop towels instead of newspaper for the first layer. Shop towels follow tight curves much better than newspaper, but small strips of newspaper will work as well.

Step 7: Attach the Legs to the Body

Cut out holes where the shoulders of the legs attach to the body and rip out enough newspaper to fit the inside half of the shoulders back into the body. Hot-glue tinfoil around the edges to smooth the transition. Tape with masking tape to smooth out the tinfoil. Repeat with all 4 legs.

Step 8: Ears

Cut out cardboard ears and tape them onto the head.

Step 9: Add a Layer of Paper Mache

Cover the entire dog in another layer of paper mache with shop towels or newspaper. I added these rolls to his back after this layer of paper mache. (I should have done it before!)

Step 10: The Face

I used air-dry clay from the dollar store to sculpt the face. You could also use paper mache clay. The air-dry is cheap and easy to sculpt with, but it cracks as it drys.

To minimize the cracking, cover the face in a ‘tent’ of plastic wrap or a plastic bag so it dries as slowly as possible. It also helps to apply the clay in small sections rather than in one big piece. You can always fill the cracks with more clay after it dries.

Step 11: Paws

I used air-dry clay to form the paws. The toe-nails are made from Sculpey. Press the toe-nails into the soft clay. As the clay dries, it will shrink, and the toenails may fall out. If they don’t fall out overnight, remove the toenails and let the clay completely dry, then hot-glue them back in.

Step 12: Eyes

Form a ball with Sculpey for the eyes. Slice the ball in half, bake, and paint. Hot-glue the eyes to the face then finish sculpting the face.

Step 13: Smoothing Layer

To smooth out the texture of the paper mache, paint the entire sculpture in a layer of 2 parts joint compound and 1 part white acrylic paint. This layer covers the ugly blue from the shop towels and acts as a primer to start your paint job.

Step 14: Paint

Paint with acrylic paints and pencil crayon to give the illusion of hair and put a shiny clear-coat on the eyes.

Step 15: Oscar!

Big thanks to Oscar for inspiration (and entertainment)!

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    6 Discussions

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    Zulaikha Zameer

    7 months ago

    Wow! Great!
    It looks so real!
    You should also enter this into Faux Real Contest.

    1 reply
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    Mad PropsZulaikha Zameer

    Reply 7 months ago

    Thanks for the tip! I'm just trying to figure out how to do that.

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    gralan

    7 months ago

    Who let the dogs out? This is a groovy project, I that you much for this.