How to Paint an Exterior Plaster of Paris Sculpture

Written by gracie sprouse
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How to Paint an Exterior Plaster of Paris Sculpture
A good picture is essential for painting correct details. (midget sculpture image by timur1970 from

Everyone of us has at some point driven past someone's lawn and had to look twice to determine if the lawn ornaments sculptures or live animals. Other than wildlife ornaments, we may see majestic lions or gargoyles guarding gates and entrance ways. Some of these may be made from cement but the majority are made with plaster. Plaster of Paris sculptures that are sealed correctly with varnish or lacquer will last for many years.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Plaster of Paris sculpture
  • Acrylic craft paint
  • Brushes
  • Varnish or lacquer
  • Picture guide
  • Paint thinner

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  1. 1

    Choose the colours of paint you will need for the sculpture. Use a colour picture from a book, magazine or catalogue as your picture guide so you can match the colours. Craft paints are available at all craft shops in several different sizes. You will need a base coat of either black or white along with the other colours you see in the picture guide.

  2. 2

    Paint the entire piece including the bottom with a base coat of paint and allow it to dry. If the sculpture is a dark coloured animal use a black base coat. Most fowl sculptures look best with a white base coat.

  3. 3

    Follow the picture guide as best you can in painting the details. Paint any facial features last. Keep a wet cloth or paper towel close by while you're painting.

  4. 4

    Allow the sculpture to dry at least overnight. Apply an even coat of varnish or lacquer to the bottom and allow it to dry according to the product directions.

  5. 5

    Apply a coat of varnish or lacquer to the entire sculpture beginning at the very top and coming down to the bottom. Allow the varnish to dry and apply a second coat.

  6. 6

    Clean the varnish brush with the paint thinner. Clean up the other with just soap and water.

Tips and warnings

  • Acrylic craft paint will not wash out of fabric once it has dried, so dress appropriately when you begin painting.

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