A papier mâché bunny has been on my mind for awhile now. I considered what to use for the bunny’s base. The newspaper sleeves I used for the papier mâché snowmen and the plastic grocery bags used for the pumpkins would not work for the bunny. Balloons came to mind.
You can imagine that regular balloons would make a pretty big bunny. The bunny I was planning to create would be a more diminutive version. We always seem to have bags of water balloons for the kids. Imagining that these would be more in line, I blew up and tied a couple of them. The one for the body was inflated more than the one for the bunny’s head. Can you believe that this is how the bunny began? To make your own, follow the directions below.
Papier Mâché Bunny Supplies
For this project, you will need:
- papier mâché paste ◄Click here for recipe.
- papier mâché clay ◄Click here for recipe.
- water balloons
- masking tape
- corrugated cardboard
- floral wire (22-gauge)
For this Papier Mâché Bunny, you clearly won’t need the quantity of paste and clay this recipe makes. You can half or quarter the recipe if you are only planning on making one or two of these. *Warning – These are addictive and you might want to keep making bunnies, snowmen, and pumpkins. You might need the large quantity! Just store the clay and the paste in a cool place.
Papier Mâché Bunny How To
Take two water balloons and blow up one to make the body shape. Secure with an overhand knot. Inflate another balloon with less air to mimic the shape of the bunny’s head and secure with another overhand knot. Using masking tape, tape the balloon head to the larger balloon on both sides of the balloons.
Cut strips of newspaper. You will want to make these smaller than the ones used for the bigger pumpkins. Depending on the size of your project, pumpkin, snowman, or bunny, you will want to cut the strips bigger or smaller to better fit the size and conform to the shape that you are covering. These strips are about 1/2″ wide by 5″ long. Don’t get overly crazy and make each one the exact size! You can see some of the strips on the head and neck area were smaller so they would lie flat on the balloon.
Using the papier mâché paste , adhere the strips of newspaper to the balloons in starburst patterns. The starburst pattern helps the dry product to hold together better, making a better foundation. Start this process where the two balloons were taped together, creating a “neck” and securing the two together.
You will want to move quickly to cover the balloons in the paper strips on this project. The possibility of the balloon popping was ever present in my mind. With the pumpkins and the snowmen, wadded up newspaper helped retain the shape. The balloons don’t have that support.
Completely cover the balloons in at least 3 layers of newspaper strips. You can see that the knotted balloon opening was left visible. After the newspaper strips have completely dried, snip the mouth of the balloon off with scissors.
Ears and Arms Armatures and Cardboard Feet
With the florist wire, create a bunny ear shape, allowing extra wire to insert into the papier mâché head. Twist the wire ends together.
I pierced two holes in the paper head where one of the loose wires could be slipped through one and fished through the remaining hole. In doing that, the wire cut the paper between the two holes. So, I twisted the loose wires together and slipped it through the slice. (In retrospect, instead of holes, a slit would have done just as well, if not better.)
Using masking tape, support the wire ear-shape at the base. Repeat for the second ear. You can manipulate the wire to be whatever shape and position you want. Cut two bunny foot shapes from the corrugated cardboard.
Using masking tape, tape the cardboard feet to the lower end of the rabbit’s body. He should be able to stand briefly, however, you need to support the tape with some of the paper clay at this point.
When I was making the first pumpkins, it didn’t take long to figure out that these paper clay shapes need support at the bottom first. The upper half of one of the early large pumpkins shifted when it became top heavy. All of the pumpkins that followed were turned upside down and a solid base was created first. The clay was allowed to dry, then, turned over, and from the bottom to the top, the clay was applied. Clay can be applied to the larger ones a third at a time to err on the side of caution.
The water from the wet clay can be absorbed into the paper strips, weakening them. Too much at once can be a bad thing.
Pack clay between the body and the cardboard feet creating a good foundation. After this, the Papier Mâché Bunny should be able to stand on his own.
Add a light coat of clay to the lower half of the body and allow this to dry. The arms need to be added during the next step, so, leave that area free of clay.
Add some of the paper strips to the ear wires. Allow these to dry a little bit. Then, add more to cover the entire opening on each ear shape. Remember, some of the strips should partially cover the ear and extend onto the head. Extra strips can be applied over those to secure the ears to the head and make a more stable ear.
Take the paddle wire and create an armature for one of the bunny’s arms and paws. You can see in the picture that the wire was doubled back on itself, creating one shoulder, arm, and paw. Then, the loose end was threaded through a slit on one shoulder and through a slit on the other shoulder.
After being threaded through the second slit, shape the wire into a matching armature for the other arm and paw. Excess wire can be cut off the end. Use masking tape to support the wire where it meets the papier mâché. Bend the wires into the shape and position you want for each of the arms and paws.
Start covering the armature for the paws with paper strips. (I use a paintbrush to cover the strips with glue on both sides. You can dip it in the glue if you like and squeeze the excess off but I like the less messy process using the paintbrush.) Let that dry while you work on the upper part of the arm, covering it with strips of the paper. Next, cover the other arm in the same fashion.
Once the second arm is covered in paper, go back to the first one and add another layer of the paper strips. Repeat with the second arm.
Add some more of the clay to begin to shape bunny feet and a more stable base. Add a thin layer of the clay to the ears and the head. When I can’t pick the bunny up without putting fingers in the wet clay already applied, I stop. Then, step away from the bunny and let him dry overnight. This takes patience but it is worth it.
I didn’t have an absolute idea of what this bunny would look like when this project began. His personality is beginning to take shape already. Does he remind you of the Velveteen Rabbit? I love his ears! This is part 1 of the Papier Mâché Bunny How To. Will have part 2 up in a few days…