Dare to turn the fantastic creature that has always fascinated you or the wonderful animal that you have dreamed of into a paper mache figure. We teach you how to make an alebrije, the Mexican handmade figures that take the imagination to the limit. INDEX
1. What is an alebrije
2. How to make an alebrije step by step
3. Types of alebrije What is an alebrije In 1936 the artist Pedro Linares had a magical dream in which he was in a battle between life and death. death. From that oneiric experience full of fantastic creatures and animals, he drew his imagination to create handcrafted paper mache figures that are called alebrijes and that are already part of the Mexican tradition.
At only 30 years old, this artist who had become part of the artistic group of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, seriously ill. In one of his dreams he was in a forest where suddenly the rocks and clouds turned into strange animals .
The common characteristic of these beings is their hybrid form, that is, their body is made up of parts of different animals: a donkey with wings, a rooster with bull horns and a lion with an eagle’s head that shout the same word, ” Alebrijes” .
After turning the fantastic images of his dreams into real papier-mache sculptures, Pedro Linares became one of the most celebrated artisans in Mexico. In 1990 he received the National Award for Arts and Sciences, and two years later he died at the age of 86.
Alebrijes parade in Mexico. | Flickr / Momoztla How to make an alebrije step by step
Many people are attracted by those colorful figures that spark the imagination, but then they wonder how to make an alebrije. Well, these are the steps to make an alebrije easily and cheaply. Keep reading. 1. What do you need
Collect the necessary material
To build an alebrije many people resort to newspaper, because it is available to everyone, it is economical, and it is easy to handle and soft to the touch. In fact, although the original way of making alebrijes is with paper mache (paper pulp), they can also be made with cardboard, wood and even recycled material, such as plastic bottles.
To achieve the original shape of the alebrijes, it is preferable to use papier-mache. How to do it Cut the newsprint or thin cardboard into pieces, and after macerating it in water, mix it with wallpaper glue, plaster, chalk or flour, until it takes consistency. 2. Create the structure
After cutting the paper mache into long and short strips with which you will later wrap your figure, it is time to prepare the structure.The structures of the alebrijes are usually built with wires , which for small figures can be fine and can be worked with the hands. For larger structures you will need thick wire and tools to bend it.
Imagine that the wire is the bones of your creature. Patiently mold its figure and, once the structure is achieved, cover it with newspaper and adhesive tape. 3. Paste the pieces of paper
Cover the wire frame and newspaper with glue, and stick the strips of paper that you had cut at the beginning . As you cover the structure with strips of paper, you will notice that the body takes shape and smoothes out. Let it rest or, if you are very anxious and cannot wait, dry it with the help of a dryer.4. Apply the paint and color
You have already done the hardest part, shaping your creature. However, the other great task for your alebrije to be fantastic is to color it. Start by applying a white base paint to the entire structure . Use the main colors to color the different parts of the body (for example, green for the body and purple for the tail of a hummingbird) or the entire structure (for example, blue for a dolphin).
You can use other paints to, with a finer brush and once the base paint dries, make dots or borders to your liking and give your creature color. However, a very original and effective way to bring joy to your animal is by cutting dots on colored cardboard.and stick them on the parts of the animal to your liking.
How to create your own alebrije. | Flickr / cardigan48 Types of alebrije: ideas for these cardboard figures
There are all kinds of alebrijes, and since you can add body parts from other animals and decorate it with all kinds of bright colors, your final creature has as many options as your imagination widens. Here are some basic examples. How to make an owl alebrije
To make an owl-inspired alebrije, make two large balls of newspaper by shaping them with masking tape and gluing them one on top of the other .
While you let the glue dry, cut four pieces of wire, one longer than the others. Fold the end of the longestand seal the other three wires to make the legs and feet. Reinforce it with adhesive tape, and repeat the operation for the other leg.
Spread the top end of the legs with glue and attach them to the body. Make the wings with plenty of aluminum foil and glue them to the body as well. Cover the part of the belly with plasticine to give it volume.
In the part of the head, seal the contour of the face with a roll of aluminum foil, and a smaller one in the center, which will be the beak. Now cover those parts with the same plasticine . When you have all this done, cover the body with 4 or 5 layers of tissue paper and white glue.
Once dry, cover the base with white acrylic paint. With a brown coffee color paintMake irregular brush strokes across the body to simulate the plumage, and add a touch of class by adding small white dots with a small brush. Draw small scales on the belly and decorate them with bright colors and a lot of patience.
With black acrylic paint diluted in water make the contour of the eyes, and with black paint the pupils and the toenails. How to make a dragon alebrije Use a piece of wire that will be the trunk , and around it holds, symmetrically and proportionally, four extremities (arms and legs) and a circle for the head. I add a piece of wire for the tail, and cover this structure with newspaper and tape.
With thin cardboard and glue he covers the structure to give it volume, and takes the opportunity to shape the head, marking an open beak with his fangs and two sockets with two balls inside for the eyes. Create the claws and put a long tongue sticking out of the mouth. Also take the opportunity to add four large wings to the back, with the shape you want.
Cover the structure with white acrylic paint and then a layer of green paint. When the paint is dry, start with the decoration. Remember that the alebrije always has to be colorful , so you can paint the claws a bright color, like purple, leave the back green and paint the head red and make brightly colored scales on the belly.