Big Eared Bunny: Art from the Kitchen

I created this fun paper mâché bunny with things I found in my kitchen and you can, too!

It was the week before Easter and I was in quarantine at home, but I wanted to create something cheerful to celebrate spring so I chose the shape of a bunny. You can create any animal using the following method....

First decide what animal you're going to create and visualize the basic shapes that create that animal's unique form. I visualized a large sphere for the body, an extra large egg for the head, a ball for a tail and ovals for ears. I wanted a whimsical look, so I exaggerated the size of the ears. (Cuteness is usually a function of extra large something: eyes, head, paws, etc. I love big ears, so that was my choice this time.)

The things you'll need are: heavy-weight aluminum foil (standard weight will work, too), tape, flour, water, white glue, a mixing bowl, a spoon, and some paper.

(I had a big roll of old printer paper that my friends at Spiritual Twist Productions gave me and it works great on extra-large paper mâché, but printer paper is just the same. This might be a good way to recycle your used printer paper!)

Tear off about a two-foot long strip of aluminum foil and ball it up to form your main body. You don't have to squeeze it tight. A loose ball is all you need.

Tear off a smaller pieces of aluminum foil and crumple them up to form the other main body shapes. I tore off a two foot section and made a cut from the center top edge down to about the middle of the sheet. I scrunched the two sections into ears and scrunched the bottom half into a head.

Next, tape your shapes together.

Any kind of tape will do. I used painting tape because that's all I could find. If I had duct tape, I'd use that.

The next step is to cover the entire form with paper mâché.

Mix about one cup of flour with half a cup of water and stir. Keep adding water until you get a thick paste. Add about a table spoon of white glue.

Tear your printer paper into strips or squares. You'll need lots of shapes. I start with larger strips and gradually use smaller pieces, so make yourself a variety of shapes and sizes so you'll have whatever you need at your fingertips.

Dip a strip of paper into your flour-water-glue mixture. Make the "peace" sign with two fingers and use those two fingers (one on each side of the paper) to scrape the excess mixture off the piece of paper so that you just have a thin coating of the paste on either side of the piece. Lay the coated paper onto your aluminum foil form. Continue dipping, scraping, and layering pieces of paper onto the form until it is completely covered.

This will get messy. Maybe I should have listed a plastic table cloth under "things you need for this project."

Once your animal is covered, let it dry overnight.

The next day, give it another layer of paper mâché. (You can cover your bowl of paste with foil overnight...but if you leave it out for more than a day or two it will grow the most interesting mold...if you need mold for a science lab, I highly recommend it.)

I set my bunny in the sun to dry. Another tip: don't do the bottom on the first layer. Do the bottom on the second layer and let it dry bottoms up.

You can keep adding layers until you like the form you've created. Be sure to let each layer dry in between, because remember the mold? Yeah, paper mâché can grow some mold if it's damp! Been there. (It's very humid where I live. That contributes to the mold problem.)

An advanced option is to cover the whole thing with joint compound. (After your paper mâché layers are all dry.) If you have a bucked of joint compound (spackle) in the garage, you can put on some gloves and spear about a quarter-inch layer of sparkle all over your bunny. I'm not going to lie.hIt was difficult. I don't think I'll do joint compound with my younger art classes. It's sticky and frustrating. (As if paper mâché wasn't already sticky and frustrating enough!) If you cover it with joint compound, you have to let it dry completely, which takes about an hour...less if you have good sunshine. When it's dry, sand it with fairly fine sandpaper. (Another reason not to do this with children...breathing the dust from sanding is bad. But if you can do it outside or wear a mask it's okay.)

You could stop at this point and have a nice white sculpture.

But, I never waste a white surface. Let's paint it. But not just a solid color...and not the normal colors...let's do something artistic!

You could paint anything on this nice white surface. Maybe you'd like a geometric pattern to contrast the organic shape? Do you have a theme in mind?

I chose to cover my bunny with spring flowers because I have this whole spring feeling going on. To do this, I mixed my acrylics with water so that they acted like watercolors. I dabbed on petal shapes and leaf shapes. I started with light colors and then added darker shades of the same color, sometimes by just adding another layer of the same color, and sometimes mixing a darker color. You can follow my lead, or you could leave your acrylics thick and paint in a style like Van Gogh or whatever you like!

I got out several black felt tip pens and outlined my flowers and added details. I spent several evenings adding tiny details to my flowers and stems and leaves.

If you don't want to paint, you could do another layer of paper mâché using wrapping paper. I think that would be really beautiful.

Once you feel happy about your art and you can walk away happy, you're done!

To protect your final piece of art, paint a clear protectant over it. Use whatever you have at home. I had a matte gel acrylic finish to paint over the whole thing. You might have a spray finish you could use. Any kind of clear coat will protect and prevent the aforementioned mold from growing :).

If you don't mind a little mess, give it a try.

If you don't want the mess in your house, I'll be doing these in art camp this summer at STP and in art classes in the fall! Contact me if you want info on that as it comes out.