First ring of
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Circus Seals in two sizes
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Under the Big Top

3D Circus Seals

What you will make:

In this project, make a circus seal and things to go with it. You will make a drum stand for it to lean on during its performance, along with juggling rings and a ball for its juggling act. Don't stop with just one seal. Why not make several for your circus seal act?

Related crafts: This is the first of four craft projects for the Under the Big Top craft series. Make up all four projects for a complete three-ring circus!

Circus puppets: For puppets with a circus theme, check out the Finger Puppets craft project. Make acrobat, strongman, clown, and elephant puppets, then put on a play with the circus seals!

Here's what you need:
  • Computer paper (white or colored)
  • Empty toilet paper tube
  • Facial tissues
  • Scissors
  • White glue (Elmer's, PVA) and glue stick
  • 1"-wide masking tape
  • Pencil
  • Transparent tape
  • Optional: Colored paper scraps, small hole punch, crayons, markers, needle and thread

This project is rated EASY to do.

How to Make 3D Paper Circus Seals

Step 1: Choose a Pattern and Print It

Choose the size of circus seal you want to make. Download and print the pattern. Print the colored patterns on white paper. Print the black & white patterns on colored paper, or print them on white paper and then color with crayons or markers. Use the 3D Balls pattern to make the alternative form of the circus seal's ball.

Circus Seal
Pattern for 3D circus seal
Small Seals
Pattern for small 3D circus seals
3D Balls
Pattern for alternate 3D balls

Patterns are Adobe PDF files. The Adobe Reader is available for free.

All of Aunt Annie's project patterns are designed to be printed on standard letter-size paper (8.5"x11" or A4). When printing from Adobe Reader, you may need to select Auto-Rotate and Center or Choose paper source by PDF page size to ensure the best fit.

Step 2: Cut

Cut out each pattern piece on its black outline. Put the ball-covering pattern pieces aside for Step 6. There are left and right sides for each seal, and left and right flippers. For the drum, there is a drum top and drum covering. There are three juggling rings that need to be cut apart on the lines.

If you printed a black & white pattern, either color the pattern pieces before cutting them, or cut out and trace the pieces on colored paper.

Cut out pattern pieces

Tracing tips (optional): Trace each pattern onto a piece of colored paper. Use paper that is as heavy as computer paper or heavier. You might trace the seal patterns onto aqua or turquoise paper, the drum covering and top onto red, and the rings onto three different colors. Cut around the traced patterns. Color the face on each seal with a black crayon or marker.

Step 3: Glue Glue seal

Lay the right seal pattern face down. Apply a thin band of glue from the middle of the back, around the head, to the middle of the stomach. Align the left seal pattern on top of the right and press around the edges. Let the glue set for 5 to 10 minutes. (You can make the drum, rings and ball while you wait for the glue to set.)

Tip: Do not get any glue on the middle of the pattern pieces. You need a pocket that can be stuffed later.

Step 4: Stuff

After the glue is dry, gently put a pencil up into the head of the seal to open the pocket. Tear a facial tissue in half, and stuff one half into the head and neck with a pencil. (For the small seals, tear the tissue in half again and stuff the seal with one of these smaller pieces.) Glue the seal's flippers to the body: one on each side, just below the neck.

Tip: If the seam around the head splits during stuffing, you may not have used enough glue or let the glue dry completely. Remove the stuffing and repeat the gluing step.

Stuff seal's head with tissue

The seal is complete and will stand on its flippers and tail.

Step 5: Make Drum

Cut a 1" ring from an empty toilet paper roll. Wrap the drum covering around the ring and glue. Decorate the drum in anyway you choose—stencil, color, paper cuts, stamps. Tape the drum top to the drum from the inside. Use three or four pieces of tape. If the drum top is too large, trim it to size.

Tip: For a firmer drum top, glue the drum top to a piece of cardboard before cutting it out.

Tip: Not all toilet paper tubes are the same size. You may need to cut a larger or smaller covering and top. Use the ring to trace patterns to size on pieces of colored paper.

Make circus drum / stand
Step 6: Make Rings and Ball

Rings: Join the two ends of each ring piece and glue.

Ball: Wad a facial tissue into a tight ball. Wrap the ball with masking tape. Cut nine ball-covering pieces in three different colors. Glue the covering pieces to the ball from center top to the center bottom. A white glue like Elmer's works best. For a more finished look, glue the small circles to the ball's top and bottom to cover where the pieces overlap. (See the sidebar for how to make a alternative ball that is lightweight, hollow and a bit neater.)

Make juggling rings and balls

Tip: Glue three pieces of one color spaced evenly around the ball. Glue the pieces of a second color to the right of these pieces. Glue the remaining pieces over the three gaps to completely cover the ball.

Tip: The covering pieces may need to be cut down if your ball is small. Each piece should extend from the top to the bottom of the ball.

That's it! Everything for your circus seal act is complete!
Small circus seals with drum, ball and juggling rings

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Before you start:
  • Make a place to work.
  • Read all of the directions.
  • Gather everything you need to do the project.
  • Think about the project. Imagine how it will look and what you will do with it.

Are you ready?
Okay, get started!!!

Large circus seal with drum, ball and juggling rings

Tip: For a complete circus act, make the drum, juggling rings and ball. You can lean the seal on the drum. As part of the seal act, you can pretend that the seal juggles the rings and plays catch with the ball. Use your imagination!

Small circus seals with drum, ball and juggling rings

Tip: The small seals can be placed on top of the drum.

Alternative circus seal balls

Tip: Make alternative circus seal balls using the 3D Balls pattern. These balls are lightweight and hollow, and are constructed with needle and thread.

Cut out the pattern and glue in a ring using the glue tab. Thread a needle with 12" to 14" of white thread. Stitch the top six points together by poking the needle and thread through the dot in each tip. Pull the ends of the thread to bring the tips together to form a sphere. Tie the ends together in a knot and snip the loose ends close to the knot. Glue an end circle over the tips using a good white/PVA glue like Elmer's. Repeat for the bottom six points.

Circus ring with finger puppets and accessories

Tip: The Finger Puppets project includes a printable pattern for making a circus ring. Use the Circus Accessories pattern to make props for your circus play.

Circus seals in green, yellow and orange

Tip: To make a colorful set of circus seals, print the black & white patterns on colored paper.

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