Alchemy- How to make a Paper Mache Dinosaur Head


So I took my art in a different direction the past two weeks. Im primarily a St. Louis based local painter. My wife and I were shopping in St Louis and I noticed some paper mache animal busts. I wanted to make one. I decided I not only wanted one but I wanted a bad ass metal triceratops. So I set out to make it happen. Not being familiar with this process whatsoever I jumped in blindly and definitely made some mistakes but was eventually happy and proud of what I created.


2 chicken wire

I started with a chicken wire shape roughly in the form of a triceratops. This was created by making basic shapes of the t-tops and wiring everything together. I then began to lay the strips of newsprint I cut out of a sketch pad.

3 paper mache5 paper mache

Coating each one in my flour and water soup. I also noticed that the cowl was so small so I added more chicken wire and added more paper.

7 paper mache 8 raising the cowl 9 raising the cowl

I Flipped him over and did the backside as well.

14 backside 15 backside 16 upside down

I used rolled up aluminum foil around the eyes, horns, and beak to add some depth. Again, covering in more paper mache.

17 defining features

I then had to figure out how I was going to mount this guy. I had a table top I bought for about $10 at home depot laying around in the basement. I took an old plastic trash bin and screwed it to the top and balanced the head on top as close to center as I could. I then used the fixer of all fixers, duct tape to shape out the neck. Again, covering in paper mache.

18 figuring out mounting 19 duct tape

I wanted to add some details around the eyes and nose so I shaped it using clay. I used what I had lying around again and it was not the best. It shrunk a lot and I ended up filling cracks with drywall mud and doing a lot of sanding. If i had to do it over again I would have used a paper clay.

20 using clay 21 clay 22 clay

After it dried and lots of sanding later I applied a primer to the whole thing.

23 primer 24 primer 26 primer 27 primer

I then brushed on my copper “metal effects” paint made by “Modern Masters Inc.” They make great paints primarily used by faux painters but a lot of fine artists have begun using they great products.

30 copper

I then used their blue patina spray on top of the copper paint. It quickly gives you that aged look.

30 patina 31 beak

I then did some layering of different colors on the horns and beak to give it some contrasts. I ended up going back over a lot of the blue patina to have more of the surface area copper colored.

31 patina

Finally I added a meaty sawtooth hanger. It had a lot of weight for a wire and it hung to far away from the wall.  I enjoyed this project immensely and I am already planning a new paper mache sculpture. Feel free to email me if you have any question regarding this project or any of my other work.




Justin King

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