ships and sailors on my worktable

paper mache boats : painting

The last time I showed you these ships they were getting their final layer of paper mache, the newsprint layer.  Then I abandoned them.  I didn’t feel inspired in any particular direction color wise so I left them alone.  Weeks later I still didn’t feel inspired in any particular color direction  so I started experimenting.  I like newsprint and almost always use it as my final layer and  I like it to show. I paint in washes (there is a video of this whole process here).  I use water color and mat acrylics. I don’t use any clear coats on top, I like the matte quality of the paint, but I do burnish them with a soft cloth when they are dry, it just smooths them a tiny bit and makes a pretty surface.

paper mache boats : painting

I also love to splatter them with a fine spray of white or ivory.  I found that bristle brush at a flea market, an old toothbrush works too.

paper mache boats : painting

paper mache fleet

Next I add buttons for the rigging. Lately I like lots of buttons and I’m always on the lookout for antique mother of pearl buttons. You should hide yours when I come over… The three ships below are made  from the paper mache ship pattern collectionI did modify the sides of the large ship, I do it a little differently almost every time I make one. 

paper mache ships : buttons

Each ship is getting a gentleman sailor owl captain (the small and medium sizes from the little owl pattern).

owls and ships on my work table

little sailor owl

I love turn of the  century fabric and lately I’ve come across some contemporary fabrics that remind me of some of my favortite antique small prints.  The fabric I used for this owl’s face is from Cotton and Steel, below on the left and the tiny black and white print on the right is by Seven Berry.

This weekend I’ll finish the sails and rigging and start more paper and fabric ships. I want to begin the year with a substantial fleet, an auspicious and nautical beginning to 2018.


  1. the owl and ships reminded me of ‘the owl and the pussycat’
    wouldn’t that make a fun mini world to make
    there is something special about mother of pearl isn’t there maybe it’s the way it catches and hold light

  2. Rebecca Ruediger

    Your work is stunning. I am currently making the Tiny Doll. I’ve decided that she needs an entire wardrobe. Then she will need friends. And yes, your creations are addicting!

  3. I could not help but think of these lines: “The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea, In a beautiful pea-green boat…” by Edward Lear.



  4. I love your ships and owls…and your choice of beautiful fabrics. I also love little pearl buttons and am currently using them on my Tiny Dolls clothes. You really can’t have enough of these little buttons or Tiny Dolls!

  5. Alison Banks

    How I love all your creations! Have the owl and mushroom pattern – can not wait to start them!

  6. Alison Banks

    How I love your creations. I have a lamb from you named Henry, he loves to watch me see. Awhile ago you posted a video on how to make the bird legs. How do I find that video again?

  7. vicki Abbatiello

    Dear Ann,
    Would love to purchase a ship for my grand babies bedroom. How much are they?
    Love them.

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