Many artists enjoy recording what they see by painting portraits and landscapes, but we learned earlier that the invention of the still camera freed others to use art to express their feelings and to make visual statements about their ideas and opinions. Trashasaurus Rex, for example, was created to protest a 1990 District Court ruling which prohibited the State of Indiana from banning out-of-state shipments of trash to our landfills. Also, we wanted to make people aware of the solid waste problem and encourage them to recycle in order to help save landfill space and natural resources.

The solid waste problem is only one of the many environmental difficulties facing the Earth's inhabitants, however. Others include air pollution, endangered species, ozone depletion and deforestation. Earth Day is a yearly observance started in 1970 to increase environmental awareness and to encourage people to become active in conserving the Earth's resources. People all over the world will commemorate the day in many ways, including planting trees, collecting recyclables, and cleaning streets and parks.

small dino

You will need:

header image

Build a Trashasaurus Rex Model

How to:

To make the armature, turn the top of the hanger or the hook toward yourself. This will become the basis for the head and neck. Straighten the wire, and bend the neck into a slight "S" shape, as shown. If necessary, straighten the wire in the top half of the coat hanger. Now fold the hanger in half, bringing the two ends together, and shape the legs.

Use a long piece of cardboard tubing to form the body. To give the tail some form, cut off about half of the top at an angle, tapering it at the bottom. Make the arms by notching each side, as shown.

Cut a slit on the top of the tube and a longer one on the bottom just below the first cut. Slide the cardboard tubing over the wire armature, fold the top flaps over and tape them in place. Make a slit in the underside of the tube at the back, and slide the tubing over the back of the legs. Form claws, feet, and toes from the pipe cleaners. Wrap tightly with thin strips of masking tape, and set them aside.

To make the head, cut "V" shapes from either side of a smaller cardboard tube. On top of the head, next to the shapes, make two small cuts and slide each side over the middle section to form the mouth. Tape this in place. Round off the back of the head, and slide it onto the wire. Glue the sides of the back of the head together, and hold it in place with paper clips or a bulldog clip. If necessary, secure the head by taping it to the wire. Build up the neck by crumpling newspapers and fastening them to the wire with tape.

Wrap each leg separately with masking tape to fill in the open spaces. Build up the muscles of the legs with crumpled newspapers, and as before, secure the paper with masking tape. Finish forming the tail, fill in the body with crumpled newspapers, and tape all in place. Check the head, body and other parts, and use more masking tape to fasten any loose joints.

When the armature or framework is finished, you're ready to begin the papier mache. Mix the paste according to the manufacturer's directions. Tear some black and white news sections into long strips. Dip the strips, one at a time, into the mixture. Remove the extra paste by running the strip between your fingers and thumb. Lay the strip onto the body and smooth it. Repeat with another strip, being careful to overlap the strips as you paste. Use very small strips on the claws and feet, and squares of paper on large areas such as the body.

When you've covered the entire dinosaur with one layer of the news section, repeat with a layer of colored comics, and then add another news section layer. Using the two kinds of newspaper will help you keep track of the number of layers you've added. Let the sculpture dry after the third layer before adding more strips. Continue alternating between the news sections and comics until you've added at least five or six layers of papier mache to the sculpture. When dry, poke a hole in each arm and insert the pipe cleaner with claws. Use tape to attach them to the arms, and to fasten the feet to the ankles. Cover the tape with papier mache, and glue some extra layers on the ankle joints.

When the sculpture is dry, paint the dinosaur's eyes and inside its mouth. Make the teeth with cardboard, and glue them into the head. Paint the eyes, teeth, claws, and toes. Glue the trash you've collected onto the rest of the body. When gluing, take care to preserve the dinosaur shape or outline, and be sure to use trash which is in proportion to this smaller sculpture. When your dinosaur is finished, take it to school to encourage others to recycle.

Tips and Tricks:

pic These directions are only guidelines to help you build your dinosaur. You may need to cut and tape the tubing in other areas to make the model. Experiment and do whatever works for you!

The feet and claws will require only a couple of layers of papier mache, and you may decide to use fewer layers for the model's body as well. Also, you may want to try using self-hardening clay, acrylic paste or papier mache pulp to make the eyes, teeth, claws, and feet.

You can substitute a mixture of 11/2 cups water and 1 cup flour for wallpaper paste. Mix the two to a creamy consistency, and add carpenter's glue to make the paste stronger.

When working with papier mache, tear the strips of paper rather than cutting them. Torn strips will lay better. Also, the fibers in newspaper run in one direction, so tear the paper along the "grain" to obtain long strips.

The dinosaur described here is an Allosaur, but there are plans for many other creatures made of common materials in Model a Monster. The book was first published in 1986 by Blandford Press in Great Britain, and it was distributed in the United States by Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. The ISBN# is 0 7137 1672 X.

To learn more about Earth Day, visit the official site at

© 1998-2010 Marilyn J. Brackney (revised 2024)
Volume 11 No. 1
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