Friday, October 13, 2017

Totally Twisted Taxidermy, Part 1

Yes, finally, after a lapse, this is an art project post, and papier-mache is underway.  My DragonWing Arts students have been back in session for 4 weeks, but I didn't want to share their projects until there was more to show.  But today I'll share the progress on one project.

The theme of our 7-week session is Surrealism, 'Cerealism', and Space.  I wanted to do a papier-mache project with the kids, and so we are creating "Totally Twisted Topsy-Turvy Wacky Tacky Taxidermy Wall Mounts".  A lot of words, I know.  Hopefully they will somehow go with the Surrealism theme. 

Anyhow, we started by creating a wire loop to hang the projects on the wall when done.  I punched two holes in a cardboard backing, and twisted a piece of wire through the holes to make a loop.  The right-hand pic below is the back, and the left-hand pic will be covered by the wall mount creature. 
 We discussed ideas for our creatures and I shared various supplies they could incorporate in their armature, the bones and flesh of their   creations.  We had everything from toilet paper cardboard tubes to disposable champagne glasses.  There were Styrofoam balls, and some junky fake gourds, as well as tin foil, newspaper and tape.  We talked about how to attach the parts and the kids jumped right in. 
 Below is an example I am making.

 Then we started papier-mache.  I wanted them strong so that we wouldn't need to do lots of layers, so I checked that nobody had a wheat allergy, and then I made a boiled paste of wheat flour, rice flour (for extra creaminess), and water.  And the kids got to work, using newspaper. 
Today we added a second layer of papier-mache using white newsprint instead of newspaper, to make it easier to add color without having to pre-paint a layer of gesso.
We only meet once a week, so you'll have to wait a couple of weeks to see how they turn out!  So far, I think the kids are doing a great job. 


  1. Phyl, will you post a recipe/directions for that paste? I usually just use a simple equal parts water and wheat flour recipe, and it's okay but I want to learn more. I have used Elmer's art paste and it was, in a word, booger-y.

  2. Katy, this is a spectacular recipe that I found several years ago and have saved on Pinterest. The link is rather fussy, so here's the recipe:


    1/3 cup flour
    2 tbsp rice flour
    2 tsp salt
    1 tsp baking soda
    2 cups boiling water
    1 cup cool water

    1. Mix the dry ingredients.
    2. Mix in the cool water with a fork or whisk, adding the water a little at a time to keep it as smooth as possible.
    3. Stir the flour mixture into the boiling water.
    4. Allow it to boil for two or three minutes.

    Options: After a night in the fridge just stir it up with a fork. It's even nicer if you heat it.