How to Build a Mt. Rushmore Model Images

Things You'll Need

  • Mask mold
  • Plaster
  • Sculpey oven-bake clay
  • Reference photo of Mount Rushmore
  • Chicken wire
  • Stapler
  • Newspaper strips
  • Large bowl
  • Water
  • Plywood board
  • Earth-tone spray paints

Mount Rushmore, located in South Dakota, is one of the best-known monuments in the United States. Featuring the faces of four great presidents -- George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln -- the monument was sculpted by Gutzon Borglum between 1927 and 1941. The key to building a Mount Rushmore model is re-creating the presidents' faces.

Mix the plaster with water, following the instructions on the plaster container.

Pour plaster into 6-by-4-inch face molds. You can find face molds at craft stores and online hobby stores. Make four plaster faces.

Differentiate the faces by adding pieces of Sculpey, a kind of oven-bake clay. Using a reference photo as a guide, add hair or other details to the presidents' faces. Washington and Roosevelt require the least amount of change, but Lincoln requires curly hair and Jefferson sports long hair. Use clay to build-up Lincoln's cheeks and eyebrows, which are prominent. Give Roosevelt a large mustache and don't forget Lincoln's beard.

Bake the faces to harden the Sculpey parts. Follow instructions on the package.

Staple chicken wire to the plywood baseboard. Begin to mold the wire into the shape of the Mount Rushmore slope, using your photo reference as a guide. Leave flat areas for the faces to be inserted. Washington and Jefferson should be about a forehead higher than Roosevelt and Lincoln.

Mix more plaster in a bowl. Dip newspaper strips in the plaster and place them on the chicken wire to build Mount Rushmore's slopes. Carefully build up a small lip around the edges of each face to hold them in place. Allow the plaster strips to dry.

Spray paint your model with a light tan base. Apply two to three light coats until you can no longer see the newsprint. Lightly spray on coats of other earth-tone colors without completely covering the previous coats. Follow the terrain with each pass of the spray can, to create a realistic soil effect.


  • Work in a well-ventilated area when using spray paints.


About the Author

Tad Cronn is a professional journalist living in Los Angeles. His columns have appeared in the "Los Angeles Daily News," the "Seattle Post-Intelligencer," the "Orange County Register" and other publications. He is an award-winning illustrator, author of "The Lynx," and an experienced handyman, model builder and gamer.

Photo Credits

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