How to make fiberglass life-size animals

Written by alex smith
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How to make fiberglass life-size animals
Fibreglass animals delight children both young and old. (fake animals image by Luisafer from Fotolia.com)

Creating life-size fibreglass animal sculptures can be a fun and rewarding pastime. These creations can be the delight of children at parks, carnivals and school events. They can also provide a lucrative source of income through both rentals and sales. Fibreglass animals are made of materials that can be found at any major hardware store.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Sheet foam
  • Glue
  • Foam carving tools
  • Fibreglass resin and catalyst
  • Fibreglass mat or cloth
  • Rubber gloves
  • Paint brushes
  • Disposable paper buckets
  • Sandpaper in multiple grits
  • Paint
  • Acrylic enamel spray

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Obtain reference pictures of the animal you want to recreate. The more pictures you have, the easier your job will be. Information on physical proportions is also useful.

  2. 2

    Glue together sheets of foam until you have a block large enough to carve the animal out of.

  3. 3

    Sculpt the animal. It's best to use saws and knives to first cut out the basic shape, the go in with carving tools to refine the form and add detail. Exaggerate any details. You will lose finer details in the fiberglassing process, so don't waste your time with them.

  1. 1

    Cut or tear the fibreglass into manageable squares.

  2. 2

    Mix the fibreglass resin and catalyst in a paper bucket with a paint brush.

  3. 3

    Brush a layer of catalysed resin onto the form.

  4. 4

    Overlap squares of fibreglass onto the form, pressing them into the resin.

  5. 5

    Tap more resin into the fibreglass with the paintbrush, saturating it fully. Tapping the resin instead of brushing it helps to eliminate trapped air bubbles.

  6. 6

    Add another three layers of fibreglass and resin (four to five if the animal will have children sitting on it).

  7. 7

    Allow the fibreglass to fully cure until it is no longer sticky to the touch.

  1. 1

    Sand the fibreglass smooth, starting with coarse sandpaper and gradually moving to finer and finer grits. You can also use an electric sander to speed up the process.

  2. 2

    Paint the animal. This can be done with spray, automotive or acrylic paints.

  3. 3

    Spray several thin coats of acrylic enamel spray to seal the paint and add a glossy shine.

Tips and warnings

  • Pre-made forms of many animals can be found at taxidermist shops.
  • Always wear rubber gloves and work in a well-ventilated area when working with fibreglass.

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