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Mama Cake Sculpture

Juan Ramos creates a Mama Cake papier-mache sculpture.

Materials and Tools:

4 plastic foam 8-1/2" x 3/4" discs
cable wire
finely ground paper pulp
paper clay
mixing bowl
white craft glue
metallic foil tape
scrap packing foam
wire cutters
craft knife
scrap pieces of packing foam
spreading tool (butter knife)
patching compound
handsaw (used for drywall cutting)
assorted acrylic paints, yellow, dark yellow, pink, light blue, black
water-based acrylic varnish
assorted paintbrushes
permanent black marker
acrylic right triangle
2 books


1. Glue the four foam discs together by applying white craft glue to the top of each one and stacking them one on top of the other. Apply a weight on top such as a couple of books. This will form the body of the cake (figure A). Allow to dry overnight. Tip: Make sure the discs do not shift.

2. Using a permanent black marker and a right triangle measuring tool, mark off a wedge from the body of the cake, like you would cut a piece of cake (figure B). Cut out the wedge using a drywall handsaw. The side of the cake with the cutout will be the back of the cake.

3. With wire cutters, cut four separate lengths of cable wire long enough to form arms with hands and legs with extra big feet.

4. Using a craft knife, carefully cut and remove about two inches of wire cover from the ends of each arm or hand cable to expose the smaller wires. Separate and form these smaller wires into a hand with five fingers (figure D).

5. Shape the hands and fingers with metallic foil, wrapping it around the wires (figure E). Position the arms and hands into desired position. With the cake body facing front, insert the other end of the cable wire to the side of the cake until you have enough extending out for an arm and hand. Secure the cable to the cake with a few pieces of metallic foil tape. Repeat on the other side of cake, making sure the arms are the same length.

6. Remove the cable wire covering to expose the smaller wires on the two leg pieces. Separate the two smaller wires for the heel of a high heel. The rest of the wires will form the rest of the shoe. Bend and shape to the approximate size of a big high heel. Shape and fill out the high heel with scrap packing foam and metallic foil tape. Repeat on the other leg. Note: The reason the heels have to be big is so the figure can stand on its own two feet without tipping over. Insert the other end of the leg cable wires into the under side of the cake body. Make sure they are the same length, but don't position them too close together. Secure the cables into cake with metallic foil tape (figure G).

7. Mix ground paper pulp in a large mixing bowl with water and a spatula until there are no lumps, and a very thick paste is formed. It should have a consistency similar to cooked oatmeal. Carefully spread the paste and cover the area where the arms and legs are joined to the cake body (figure H). Carefully position the cake in front of a table fan set on low speed and allow it to dry for at least eight hours. This will stabilize the piece when the mixture is applied to the rest of the body. When it is dry, repeat this process on the arms, hands, legs and feet. Then repeat this process for the rest of the figure.

8. When dry, use the paper-based clay to form details of face, the hair and shoes. When dry, brush on a layer of patching compound over the entire figure and allow it to dry completely. Tip: This helps to smooth out the roughness of the texture and provides a tooth for the acrylic paint (figure J).

9. Paint accordingly or as desired. The body was painted yellow, the skin pink and eyes were painted blue with black outlines. There were dark yellow accents around the eyes, mouth and cheeks (figure K). When dry, coat with an acrylic water-based varnish and allow it to dry. The addition of false eyelashes is optional.

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