Tuesday, January 10, 2012

To Buy Or DIY: Papier-Mâché Animal Heads

Over the holidays, I noticed stylish safari papier-mâché animal heads everywhere. Now, it could've been my search for interesting gifts for friends and family but I was seeing them all over the web. 
Now I'll admit, I'm not really sure where I stand on the issue. I love that they're cruelty-free and some are downright breathtaking but I'm still not sure how I feel about hanging an animal head on my wall. On the other hand, it sounds like a fun weekend project to try with some friends. The French translation of papier-mâché is chewed paper and it's an an eco-friendly and versatile material that I remember getting down right messy with as a child. The ones below are so wonderfully done that I'd be tempted to buy in order to support artists from around the world.

Images © 2012 Williams-Sonoma Inc.
These animals from West Elm were the first to catch my eye. These whitewashed beauties are handmade in Port au Prince by over 100 Haitian artisans still trying to recover from 2010's devastating earthquake. The Brooklyn-based design team and creative locals at Caribbean Craft work hard transforming recycled cement bags and waste from box factories into these sophisticated animals. Check out this article on the West Elm blog for more information on the partnership, Haiti's papier-mâché history and how this is helping the local economy and people of Haiti. Prices range from $69 for a small Turtle Shell to $79 for a small Wildebeest (bottom left) to $149 for a large Gemsbok (top right).

Images © Dwell Studio

The second spotting occurred at DwellStudio.com. These colorful animals are also produced by hand in Haiti in collaboration with a non-profit organization. I just love how whimsical these look with their beautiful colors, vintage French book pages and shiny, oil-based varnish. Prices: Gazelle (bottom right) $70, Giraffe & Zebras $76.

Now that my curiousity was piqued, and I was already browsing Etsy, I easily found The Paper Turtle. Partners Laura Bruzzese and Aly Abraham design papier-mâché sculptures that are handcrafted with recycled materials in a small artisan shop in... you guessed it, Port au Prince, Haiti. Laura remains in the States, based in Albuquerque, NM while Aly stays in Port au Prince to rebuild his workshop and fund his artists. You can read more about their collaborative efforts here. I love that this team has gone beyond the safari and have such a variety of animals. The birds are priced between $24-$35, while the others vary in price (cw from left): billy goat $69, rhino $110, giraffe $45, rooster $120, and crab $25. 

Other Etsy finds included this zebra and giraffe ($45 ea.) from Jeff Boyer, a psychology student in Seattle, WA that uses art to escape his busy, chaotic city life and this life-size rhino head ($500) from Lisa Provencher, a nature enthusiast and eco-artist, at the NatureCurios shop.

Last but certainly not least are these magnificent creations from self proclaimed compulsive creator Jennifer Khoshbin. Above are her beautiful (made to order) resin deer creations, available in a variety of papers from her Etsy shop Ruby's Lounge for $335. Below are some additional, and equally amazing creations. I love the wolf head with it's piercing eyes but I also love the comic book paper she used on the bird. There's just so many possibilities! Additional articles on this uber-talented Texan can be found at Apartment Therapy, IndieFixx, and Great Green Goods.              

So what do you guys think? Would you buy or try to DIY?
Unmarked images are from the artists websites and/or shops which are linked in the article. 

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