Our catfish will be purchased from Cowpainters, a studio that specializes in the design and fabrication of fiberglass animal forms, particularly for public art projects. Cowpainters provides extensive tips and tricks for artists concerning these figures as well as a unique Artists' Hotline that assures that local artists get the expert technical guidance they need. You will find the information from Cowpainters listed here for your convinence.



Your catfish is primed white. Wash the surface while looking it over carefully to see if there are any holes to fill or defects in the surface that must be fixed before proceeding. If small holes are found: fill with a bondo-type product sold in a tube and available at auto supply stores. Smooth with spatula and let set before sanding. For your health and safety, always wear vinyl or rubber gloves and dust masks or respirators when prepping critters. Work in a well-ventilated space. CLEAN UP THE DUST WITH DAMP MOPS, DON’T SWEEP. If you find any areas where the primer appears to be flaking off, stop and call the Hotline for suggestions. To assure a strong bond when painting the form, we also recommend that you rough up the surface primer a bit or gesso the form before beginning.


We recommend acrylics by Golden, Windsor-Newton, Daler-Rowney, Pebeo, Lascaux, Liquitex and other professional-grade paint. You can also use the oil paints of your choice; please paint in thin layers when using oils, letting each layer dry thoroughly between applications. Latex wall or house paints are not recommended. Craft-quality paints such as Delta Ceramcoat Acrylics are not formulated to withstand outdoor conditions and will peel quickly, do not use them. Avoid paints that do not have a high colorfast rating -- you don’t want your design to disappear in the sunlight! Protect your artwork before the form leaves your studio by varnishing with a coat of Lascaux UV-1 gloss varnish (over acrylic paint only). If it is not available at your local art supply store, it can be ordered from Dick Blick Art Supply ( While there are other products out there, Lascaux is the best. Order one 250 ml bottle for a small form, 2 bottles for a medium sized form and 3 bottles for a large form. One coat of Lascaux, diluted 3 parts varnish to l part water, will protect your work until it is clear-coated. If you are planning to decoupage or apply mosaics to your form, please call or email for additional information.

Remember that anything you add to the creature will be vulnerable. Vandals (and the weather) will try to remove add-ons, so think “permanence” when planning and executing your design. There are professionals in your community who can help you do this, such as auto-body shops and other professionals who work with fiberglass. If you wish to sculpt forms onto your fiberglass form, use epoxy putty. You may want to start with your local art supply or hardware store. If they are unable to provide the product you are looking for, however, you may find it on the internet at and/or for epoxy putty and product tech support. To glue stuff onto your creature, use liquid nails or jewelers cement, epoxy adhesives or Bond 527 multi-purpose cement. We do NOT recommend that you add hats, bags and other items made of fabric. They will deteriorate outside.


additions and extentions

PHCAC will arrange for a final finish with an auto-body clear coat, which will create a hard-shell high-gloss finish with a UV-protection component. 


Note: These tips have been compiled from the experiences reported to Cowpainters by public art project artists across the country and are provided for the information of our clients' artists. Please regard all of these tips as suggestions on how to proceed. The entire process depends upon an artist’s knowledge of materials and proper application. If in doubt -- EXPERIMENT. We are happy to share this information with our clients, but Cowpainters cannot assume, and expressly declines, any warranty or liability for the finished artwork.