Alebrijes (Spanish pronunciation: [aleˈβɾixes]) are brightly colored OaxacanMexican folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures. The first alebrijes, along with use of the term, originated with Pedro Linares. In the 1930s, Linares fell very ill and while he was in bed, unconscious, Linares dreamt of a strange place resembling a forest. There, he saw trees, animals, rocks, clouds that suddenly turned into something strange, some kind of animals, but, unknown animals. He saw a donkey with butterfly wings, a rooster with bull horns, a lion with an eagle head, and all of them were shouting one word, “Alebrijes”. Upon recovery, he began recreating the creatures he saw in cardboard and paper maché and called them Alebrijes.

You are going to make your own Alebrije out of paper mache. Will it be a combination creature or just an animal you love? What will the patterns be?

How to Paper Mache:

Step 1: Create the form
You can make a form with crumpled newspaper, wire and tape to make the basic shape of your alebrije. Use masking tape to hold your form together but no more, it does not need to be mummified.

Step 2: Tear newspaper strips
Tear newspaper strips before you begin pasting. Torn strips of paper work better than cleanly cut strips. Try tearing them two to three inches wide.

Step 3: Start pasting
Dip one strip of newspaper at a time into the paste. Run the strip between two fingers over the paste bowl to remove excess paste. Place the strip on the form and smooth it down. Continue laying strips over the entire form, overlapping and laying them in different directions. Apply at least 6 or 10 layers of paper mache for a solid finish.

Your Alebrijes Should:

  • start with @ least 10 sketches of different animals & combinations
    • don’t forget the patterns you will use
  • your alebrije should not be bigger than the box up on my desk
  • begin building with crumpled and taped newspaper
  • things like legs and tails can use a wire center covered in newspaper
  • use small wet pieces of paper mache in covering layers to tie all your pieces together and harden the work
    • you need at least 6 layers over the entire alebrije
  • final layer of paper mache after piece is shaped and hardened is done with colored paper for the basic colors and marker to create the detailed patterns after it has dried.

Please Help:

  • pour your leftover mache paste back into the jug with the funnel at the end of the hour
  • don’t waste tape or we will run out
  • put newspaper on your table so cleanup is quick and easy
  • could somebody awesome help rearrange our cupboard so we have room to store all these
    • move clay stuff that is dry all to the top shelf
    • move wet clay stuff closer together to free up space
  • you know better than the guest teacher what I expect, help them and everyone do well.