paperclay moon wall art

Sleepy Moon wall art paper clay tutorial

I’m obsessed with the full moon and intrigued by the different faces you can see in it.

This time I saw a dreamy woman’s face with a quirky little mouth. She was the inspiration for my website’s header and also my Sleepy Moon wall art, a paperclay sculpture surrounded by shimmering moonbeams.

Follow along with me as I show you step by step how this sculpture was made.

Preparing to sculpt

I used a 10¼” paper maché plate for the foundation of the sculpture. Then I cut out a piece of cardboard slightly smaller than the plate to be used as a backing.

paperclay moon base and backing

Paper mache plate and cardboard backing

I made a full size drawing of the moon face.

paperclay moon sketch

Sleepy Moon by Lynda Makara

Then I traced the drawing onto a piece of wax paper. This was used to overlay my sculpture to check for accuracy in the placement of the features.

drawing on wax paper of sleepy moon wall art

Wax paper drawing of Sleepy Moon by Lynda Makara

Working on the sculpture

The easy part was covering the plate with a layer of clay. I always use Creative Paperclay.

first layer of paperclay for moon wall art sculpture

Paperclay over paper mache plate

I laid the wax paper over the clay. With my X-acto knife I punched little holes through the paper along the black lines.

using wax paper drawing to mark paperclay sculpture

Wax paper over paperclay base to make markings

This shows the markings left behind after removing the wax paper. The clay was divided into four sections with the nose outlined.

Marks made through wax paper drawing on paperclay moon

Marks made through wax paper drawing

To make the nose I just started with a nice nose-shaped blob of clay.

adding a nose to the paperclay moon sculpture

Adding a nose to the moon

I added a smaller ball for the nostrils.

adding to the nose on paperclay moon

Adding to the nose

With the nose done, I starting working on the eyes. I cut out a layer of clay in the shape of the eye using the pattern as a guide.

Nose added to moon sculpture, working on right eye

Nose added, working on right eye

The eyes had slits for the eyelashes to be glued into later. The eyebrows were marked at this point.

Both eyes done on moon sculpture, marks for eyebrows

Both eyes added and marks made for eyebrows

One eyebrow done.

right eyebrow finished on moon sculpture

Right eyebrow finished

After the eyes and eyebrows were finished, I let the paperclay dry overnight. The next day I pulled off a piece of clay and formed it into the approximate shape of the mouth.

moon sculpture with eyebrows, piece added for mouth

Both eyebrows done, piece added for mouth

I used a small dampened paintbrush to smooth out areas too small for my fingers. My X-acto knife helped with carving and shaping.

working on the mouth for moon sculpture

Working on the mouth

Here it is after the facial features were done and left to dry for a few hours.

Moon with facial features done

Facial features done

Then I came back in with thin layers of clay to make craters. I also filled in all the cracks that appear after drying and the remaining guide marks.

Some tools I used to make the craters: the end of my knife, wooden dowels, my knuckle.

adding crates to moon sculpture

Adding craters to moon

After the sculpture dried overnight, I shaped and refined the features using the knife. I also added a bit more clay to the nose.

This is what it looked like when I was done sculpting. Very close to the original drawing.

Comparing the finished moon sculpture to the drawing

Comparing the finished sculpture to the drawing

Another view of the sculpture ready to be painted.

Paperclay moon before painting

Paperclay moon before painting

Painting the moon sculpture

I always like to define the features first by using a black wash. The clay is porous and using watery paint helps cover everything.

adding black wash to moon sculpture

Adding black wash to moon sculpture

With this sculpture I worked from dark to light. Black wash in the crevices, gray wash over everything else.

Then I went back in dry brushing with white paint. Many layers were added.

I do drybrushing instead of regular painting because it blends in better with the background colors, almost like airbrushing.

At the end I drybrushed metallic silver paint as a highlight.

Highlighting moon sculpture with metallic silver paint

Highlighting with metallic silver paint

Working on the embellishments

I cut out a pair of eyelashes from a piece of thin cardboard. They got painted black on both sides.

Cardboard eyelashes for moon

Cardboard eyelashes for moon

Not being able to find ready made trim, I made my own tinsel from a mylar ham wrapper. This was the outer wrapper not against the ham.

I cut strips of mylar layered over a piece of tulle, sewed them together with a gathering stitch, cut them apart and fringed the edges.

This detail represents a moon ring and also serves to soften the transition between the moon and the backing.

Working on the backing

I took the cardboard backing and divided it into 16 equal parts. This was easily accomplished marking from a paper circle folded into 16 sections.

Each line marks the spot for a dowel to be glued.

dividing cardboard backing into 16 equal parts for moon wall art

Dividing cardboard backing into 16 equal parts

Lines were drawn with a ruler.

drawing lines on cardboard backing for moon wall art

Drawing lines on cardboard backing

Dowels were glued in place with hot glue.

Gluing dowels to cardboard backing

Gluing dowels to cardboard

Bamboo skewers were glued in between the dowels. I just eyeballed the placement of these.

Gluing skewers to cardboard backing

Gluing skewers to cardboard

Then I made a wire hanger from 22 gauge wire, folded in half and twisted.

Making wire hanger for moon sculpture

Making wire hanger for sculpture

The twisted wire was inserted near the edge over a dowel. The ends were twisted together and glued in place on both sides.

Wire hanger going through cardboard backing

Wire hanger going through cardboard backing

I painted the sticks with metallic silver.

painting sticks for moon sculpture

Painting the sticks metallic silver

The back was painted black.

cardboard backing painted black for moon sculpture

Backside painted black with hanger in center

Mirrors were glued on with hot glue. Afterwards I put more glue on the back of them and covered with silver paper.

Gluing mirrors to sticks to create moonbeams

Gluing mirrors to sticks

Layers of cardboard were glued in the center of the base to reach the depth of the paper maché plate.

Cardboard added to center of moon backing

Cardboard added to the center

Gluing everything together

Cardboard eyelashes were glued into the slit. This almost looks like gluing regular eyelashes!

Gluing eyelashes to moon sculpture

Gluing eyelashes to moon sculpture

Tinsel was gathered and glued around the edge of the moon on the underside.

Tinsel glued to moon sculpture

Tinsel glued to moon sculpture

Finally the moon sculpture was glued to the backing using tacky glue. I held it in place with pressure on it for about 20 minutes. I didn’t want to crush the eyelashes by placing something heavy on top!

Gluing the mirrored backing to moon sculpture

Gluing the mirrored backing to moon sculpture

Finishing touches

I decided to lighten up the eyebrows then I went over everything with satin varnish. After that dried I applied two different kinds of iridescent glitter in strategic places: inside craters, on the eyes, eyelashes and mouth.

This step I like to think of as painting with glitter.

paperclay moon closeup

Sleepy Moon with glitter embellishments

Introducing the Sleepy Moon!

Here she is in all her glittering glory!

Sleepy Moon wall art paperclay sculpture

Sleepy Moon wall art

For more photos, check her out here.

Related projects

Muse in the Moon sculpture
Starburst mirror

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