Fledgling from the Ball People Series


As quite a few readers expressed interest in the process, I decided to take as many pictures as possible. I’m not sure if I’ll do it again, so if anyone has any questions, go ahead.

The torso is a foam ball. For limbs I used 16 or 18 gauge galvanized wire from Home Depot. The feet are reinforced as they need to support all the weight. I mask taped the foam ball to make the paper mache adhere better.


The wire is covered with aluminum foil, and mask taped.
Sometimes I run into trouble balancing and stabilizing the figure on the base when done at the end, so I decided to do a reverse order this time. For base I am using casted plaster. I drilled two holes for the feet.

I made a groove to receive the ends of the wires. The hidden wires will keep the bottom of the base smooth and  even. To secure the wire ends to the base I used staples. I was a little worried about that initially but the plaster did not crack.

It’s standing. Next I worked on the legs. They need to be strong to hold all the top weight. I let them dry for 48 hrs to make sure they were hard. While the legs were drying I took a smaller foam ball for the head. I cut if in half. One half was used for a hat, the other for the face.

Next, when the legs hardened,  I added the arms and the neck.

I covered the torso with mache, then the face and the neck. I wanted a long, bird-like neck.

Next I wanted wing-like arms, with human hands.

I wanted to paint the wings pink. I used acrylic paint.

I sealed the piece with a Mod Podge, a waterbased sealer. I thought the pink was too strong, so I toned it down with black. Here is the finished piece:

The face: 99 % of the time I don’t know what the next face will look like. I just let my hands guide me and the personality will develop on its own. The wide face and the small mouth reminded me of the lovely renaissance madonnas which I thought would just go perfectly with this character. From that point on I consciously developed the features to remind one of a madonna.

Finally I should mention that the piece was partly inspired by watching three peregrine falcon chicks grow and take flight last spring. A video camera was taping them 24/7 in the town of Boise, Oregon.

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