art and craft

Hare today Hare tomorrow February 2014

On Monday, I confused my friends by telling them I was taking my hare to the gallery. "Why is Helen taking her hair to the art gallery?" they wondered. : ) 

Harry the Hare, or 'a rabbit for blokes' as the gallery director called him, is my latest paper-mache creation.

Over the years, I've tried many methods of making the armature (skeleton). I've tried:
chicken wire - strong and quick, but hard work (with my disability),
balloons - slow and yields weird shapes not really suitable for animals,
rolled up newspaper in the style of Dan the Monster Man and
cardboard and wire in the style of Jonni Good

Harry has a Jonni Good style armature. I used wire in the ears and the spine to allow some movement in the final piece.

All was going well ... I left Harry sitting on the boiler one night, waiting for his back legs and hips to dry.

 Oh dear, when I saw him in the morning, he'd sagged. His back legs had splayed and his spine had buckled. The mache mixture I used was old and hadn't set. So much for short cuts.

Since time was pressing, I used modroc to hold him together, and soon he was looking good as new.

Once I was happy with his shape, I coated him in newspaper and PVA.

His top layer was done with acrylic medium and burnt umber paint. Normally, if I have no time limit, I coat my creatures in paper clay (see later blogs about how I make this). However, the date for admission to the exhibition at the Beetroot Tree Gallery was sooner than I realised.

The acrylic coat worked well.
It's water resistant and easy to 'comb' into fur with a toothbrush.

Now, Harry and his friend Scaredy Cat (made last summer) await their public. I'm looking forward to the preview on Sunday evening. I just hope both creatures behave themselves.

Open Exhibition 2012

I've been making things out of papier-mâché for many years but this is the first one that I've sold.

Due to my disability it takes me a long time to make each one.  Pebbles the dog has been on the go since 2005, and has been sitting around in my garage waiting for the days when I have the strength to work.  By mid-January this year he was finished. The final layer was made using a papier-mache clay recipe from Jonnie Good.

This worked really effectively as I was able to mix acrylic paint into the papier-mâché which saved me painting the finished product.  I stuck pebbles and stones all over the dog, using smaller pebbles near the head and feet.  His eyes came from a haberdashery shop that sold eyes for stuffed toys. They really came to life when I applied a coat of acrylic varnish to them making them shine. I added a dob of varnish onto his nose as well.

Last week a friend of mine helped me take him along to the gallery to enter the open arts exhibition as he was way too heavy for me to lift.  In fact I needed help during the final stages because I was unable to move him around to finish off the project.  Sometimes I find it painful to lift a milk bottle so working on this scale and with this weight may be something I have to reconsider.  It is wonderful to earn a few pennies from my art under the permitted work scheme, but I don't want hurt myself in the process.

Last saturday the gallery    held an open evening and I invited my friends to come along and look at the exhibition and enjoy a glass of wine.  I hoped my sculpture would attract attention and the odd smile, but it was beyond my wildest dreams that I would actually sell it.  We'd all been there about an hour and my friends were considering getting back home when Alysn Midgelow Marsden, the gallery owner, caught my eye and placed a red dot by Pebbles' paws.  She winked and moved away.  I looked at my friends, my jaw dropped open and then I began to grin.  It was a wonderful feeling.  Although it took me a very long time to create him, I thoroughly enjoyed it and am so pleased that he is now going to a good home.

It has crossed my mind to make up a small piece of papier-mâché poop to put underneath him when the exhibition closes.  Won't that be a surprise?

My thanks go to all those who helped me and supported me, to the gallery and to the wonderful person who bought Pebbles.

13th Feb 2012 Pebbles has now gone to his new home.


  1. I still have your felt frog, he sits on the bookcase in the lounge - next to a knitted gargoyle.

    1. Fantastic. Could you email me a photo please?