Paper Mache Ice Dragon – Finished!

Well here it is, with the lights on and off.   I say this everytime and it is especially true with this project, but the photos just don’t capture how really pretty this dragon is in person.   The camera just can’t pick up all the subtlety of the color.

Paper Mache Ice dragon 4

Paper Mache Ice dragon 1

Paper Mache Ice dragon 6

Paper Mache Ice dragon 5

I took time-lapse video of the process.  I’m editing all of that right now.   I’ll have a video to post in a couple of days.

I’m done with the editing of the time-lapse video.  You can watch it here, https://youtu.be/r4egndZ6uvA

This was fun!

P.S.   There are flaws in this design.  I already know them all, just in case you think you need to point them out!  🙂

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Paper Mache Ice Dragon – Finished!

First, the painting.

Painting this project was a lot more challenging than most.   Because the paint does not easily come off the resin horns and eyes I had to take care from the beginning not to splatter paint everywhere.  My “fast and furious” method of painting became slow and laborious.   Don’t get me wrong, I took this as a challenge and enjoyed every minute of it.  

First I carefully painted between all the horns.  Then around the eyes.  

Paper Mache Ice dragon-paint between horns

On the main part of the trophy I painted first with dark blue, then while it was still wet I added some white to get a lighter shade on the scales.

Paper Mache Ice dragon- blue 

Paper Mache Ice dragon- add white

Of course after the initial painting dried, I “blackwashed” the project.  This is where many people who use my techniques hesitate.  They fall in love with the bright colors and they don’t want to “ruin” the piece.  

Paper Mache Ice dragon-first paint

But it never does.  It accentuates the detail and makes the colors pop even more.  

Paper Mache Ice dragon-blackwash

Paper Mache Ice dragon- wipe off black paint

As I did with the mouth, I added glitter over the entire project.  I wanted it to look frosted.  It’s an ice dragon after all.   Still, it was risky.  But I have to say that I’m very happy with the way it turned out. 

Paper Mache Ice dragon- finished paint

Paper Mache Ice dragon-glitter

I’ll add some final photos in the next post.  

P.S.  I must give a shout out to my little “helper” Maisie!  How could I work without her encouragement.  (Abbie doesn’t care about my projects, but she’ll stop by to say “hi” once in a while.)

Paper Mache Ice dragon with Maisie

 Thanks for stopping by!

 

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Paper Mache Ice Dragon – Final Assembly

Ice Dragon – Details

Happy New Year to you all!

I know I haven’t posted for a while, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working. There are parts of this project that just take a lot of time. For example, I left you last time having just finished adding all of the horns. There were a lot of them. I added cloth mache in between all of those horns.

Cloth mache around horns

Cloth mache around horns

I had to be more careful than usual because I didn’t want to get too much glue on the resin horns. It was difficult cleaning the glue off the horns once I was finished. This took a few days.

I added two rows of “frills” (not sure what else to call them…sort of a webbed mane I guess) on the top of the neck. I twisted some newspaper around pieces of wire clothes hanger and wrapped them with masking tape to make the spines.

Paper mache Ice dragon -make spikes Paper mache Ice dragon -add spikes

After arranging them on the neck I draped wet cloth between them.

drape cloth

After the cloth dried I trimmed them using scissors and an Exacto knife. I added some holes to give a more “dead-like” appearance.

trim frills

Paper mache Ice dragon -frills on top of neck

Maisie wanted to see what I was doing so I moved her cat post close to the action.

Maisie

I also wanted some tattered shreds of skin (or something) under the chin and neck.    I just cut some shapes out of the cloth.  I painted them before hot gluing them under the neck.  

Paper mache Ice dragon -frills under neck cut

Paper mache Ice dragon -frills under neck painted

Paper mache Ice dragon -frills for under neck

Paper mache Ice dragon -frills under neck

Paper mache Ice dragon -frills under neck

I decided rather than using the triangular scales I usually make to just add some plate-like shapes on the neck and head. I did this using “paper clay”. There are many recipes for paper clay online. I just mix some toilet paper, Elmer’s glue, and commercial “Celluclay” together into a kind of thick dough.

Paper mache Ice dragon -paper clay

Paper mache Ice dragon -add scales on face

Then I tear off blobs of the clay and press them onto the dragon.

Paper mache Ice dragon -add scales on neck

With that I have finished the sculpting.  I think I’m happy with the result.   Here are photos of the project with the lights off …

Paper mache Ice dragon -finished assembly lights off

…and with them on.  

Paper mache Ice dragon -finished assembly lights on

Next….painting!   Thanks for stopping by!

 

   

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Paper Mache Ice Dragon – Horns

Okay, there are a couple of things besides horns I should discuss, like how I hooked up the lighting.  But I promised horns on this post, so that’s what I’m showing.   I’ll do other posts later about the lights and switches etc..

I know it’s been quite some time since I last posted.  That’s because it has taken a long time to put on these horns, particularly in combination with the lights.   Speaking of lights, I took a big risk by adding lights under many of the horns.  They are either going to look great or completely hokey and terrible.   

For the biggest horns I drilled holes in the base. 

paper mache dragon -first horns drilled

I inserted the lights as I attached the horns.  I used lots of hot glue for that.  

paper mache dragon -first horns with lights in them

I added the biggest horns first.

paper mache dragon -first horns2

Then smaller ones.

paper mache dragon -first horns

 At one point I stopped to add some jowls at the back of the mouth.  

paper mache dragon -add jowls

Then I added more horns.  

paper mache dragon -more horns2

And more carefully placing lights under many of them.

paper mache dragon -horns

The trick is learning when to stop adding horns.  I have to say that each horn was carefully and deliberately placed.   A lot of compulsive putting one on and taking it back off went on behind the scenes.     These horns were also not easy to cut.  I used a jig saw with a blade made for plexiglass to cut them.  

Of course I also added horns to the jowls.

paper mache dragon -horns on jowls2

And a few more.

paper mache dragon -horns on jowls

Here is what it looks like now with the lights off. I must point out again, that 99% of the time this project will be displayed with lights off.     It has to look good without lights.

paper mache dragon - lights off

I made sure that the lights under the horns were on seperate circuits from the eyes and the mouth.  That way, if I hate the way the lights look under the horns I can just turn leave them off.   Here is the dragon with the lights on only in the mouth and eyes.

just mouth and eyes lights on

And here is one with all the lights on.

all lights on

Not sure how I feel about them yet.  We’ll see after painting how I feel about them.

Either way, you’ll notice that the horns are a little hard to see in the photos.   That’s the downside of icicle-like horns I guess.   But I like them nonetheless.  So far so good.

More later.  Thanks for stopping by. 

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Paper Mache Ice Dragon – a little cloth mache before the horns

Okay, I know I said I’d do horns next.  But I decided I wanted a layer of cloth skin on the head first.    It would be a much better surface for using hot glue to apply the horns.   So a quick cloth mache on the face.

I always fold the cloth to use for eyelids.  I usually do under the eyes first. 

cloth mache under eye

Then over.  The nice thing about wrapping eyes with the cloth is that wrinkles occur naturally adding a touch of realism.

cloth mache over eye 

cloth mache around the eyes

I fold a long strip of cloth for lips, then fill in above them with pieces of cloth.

cloth mache lips

I push a large square piece of cloth into the nose and piddle around until I get the shape of nostril I like.   

cloth mache nose

cloth mache nose finished

I’m very happy with the way the eyes look with the lights off.  The clear cast resin with irises and pupil ground from the back with a Drumel have a nice look to them.  

very cool clear cast eyes

Okay, horns next.  I promise. 

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Paper Mache Ice Dragon – Mount the head, add eyes and nostrils

Head Mount- Eyes and Nose

I know it’s been a little while since I posted last.   But I am posting almost real time and I need to work before posting.  Thank you for your patience (except for the guy who wanted to know when the video would be done.  🙂  Of course I’m just like that myself.  I want what I want, now.).  

So I left off having securely attached the neck to the wood plaque.  

neck on plaque

Time to start the real fun.  First, I attached the bottom and top jaws to the neck using lots of masking tape.  

taping on the paper mache jaws

Next, I added some cheeks.  This is just wadded paper wrapped with masking tape.   For these details I really like phone book paper.  It compresses nicely. 

Add cheeks  

Next, I added the eyes.   After experimenting with all the eye candidates, putting them on, taking them off, putting them back on, taking them back off, eating cookies, putting them on, taking them off, I decided I liked the ones I made with the clear casting resin.   They look the best with lights behind them.  I think they also look the best without the lights on, and since the trophy will spend most of the time without the lights on, this was the deciding factor.  I did make a slight change to them however.  I used a Drummel to grind a small groove where the lens would be.  Then I roughed up the part that would be the irises.   I’m happy with the look.

resin eyes 

First I hot glued some foil where the eyes would go to help reflect the light forward.  I glued the little clump of lights (nine I think) in place then used masking tape to secure the eyes in front of the lights.   

adding the lights behind the eyes

adding clear cast eyes

Then I fashioned some thick eye brows and taped them on.   

adding brows

So here is the basic head.  

mounted paper mache head

I also decided to add some nostrils with a few lights inside.  This time I used aluminum foil to create the basic shape.  

Add foil nostrils

Nostrils with lights on

Thanks for stopping by.  Horns next!

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Paper Mache Ice Dragon – Wood Plaques and the Neck

I have to say at this point that much work has happened and yet I haven’t even started the final assembly when the dragon starts looking like a dragon.  That will come with the next post, I promise.     As you can see, a lot of this process could be considered “grunt work,” all in preparation for the final sculpt.  Because of this, these projects can take many, many (add a couple more “many”s if you want) hours.  I tried counting a few times but always just lost track.   Luckily, I enjoy every part of the process, even what most people consider very boring and repetitive.  That’s why I’m still doing this work after many decades. 

Soooo, about Wood Plaques and necks….

I’ve made many trophies that just hung on the wall, that were not mounted to any kind of wood backing.   Those work very well when you want it to look as if the dragon was coming through or out of the wall.   But lately I’ve been mounting the trophies to wood plaques.  The downside is that it looks as though the dragon has been killed.    It really bothers some people.  (I think I’ve have heard from them all.)   But in case I’ve missed one of you, let me say unequivocally, I have never actually killed a dragon.  

Anyway, I buy my plaques from the same taxidermy companies where I get my eyes.  They are all great quality and reasonably priced.   Here is the one I’m using for this piece. 

wood plaque

Many of the people who have used my techniques to make trophies have made their own plaques.   I made a very big one for my five-headed Tiamat dragon.  It adds a nice touch. 

Paper mache Tiamat Dragon 

The neck.  

Time to cut open the paper mache neck.   I cut off both ends and pulled out the wads of paper that I used to make it.  

paper mache neck cut off bottom of paper mache neck

I’m left with a fairly strong, light, paper mache shell.  As a bonus I am able to use the wads of paper again. I  toss them into a box for future projects.  

pull out paper wads

I wanted my trophy to come out of the plaque facing slightly downward and with a little turn of the head (just like in the drawing of Viserian that I put in the first post).  So I trimmed the shell so that it would sit the way I wanted on the plaque.    When I had the position I wanted I traced around it with a Sharpie  (to use for mounting later).  

cut paper mache shell for plaque trim paper mache shell

Battery packs. 

I need to take a side trip here before showing how to attach the neck to the plaque.  Since I am using battery powered l.e.d.s I need a place for the battery packs.    In this case I will have four packs that I want to hide inside the neck.   After drilling a hole in the middle of the plaque that I’ll use to hang the project (that hole will go over a screw in the wall) I cut two holes that were the same size as the battery packs. 

trace battery packs cut holes in plaque

I hot glued two packs back to back and also added a strip of duct tape (for good measure) to hold them together. 

better packs hot glued together 

Then I drilled a round oblong cut-outs on each of the wood pieces that had been cut out.  I inserted pieces of wire clothes hanger bent into a square. I used the wire to hold the battery packs to the pieces of wood.  The oblong holes allow me to grab the wire when pulling out the battery packs.  

wire bent into square2 battery packs together

Connecting the Neck to the plaque.

The shape of these trophies require a very secure connection to the wood plaque.   This is especially true if the trophy sports a long neck.  While the trophies themselves are not terribly heavy, a long neck will create significant torque.  Glue by itself is not strong enough to keep the trophy on the wood.   I use pieces of wire clothes hanger to secure the neck to the plaque.   

First I drill holes around the perimeter of the neck. 

drilling holes through plaque

Then I bend pieces of wire clothes hanger into “U” shapes.  

U shaped wire

I push the ends through the holes from the back of the plaque. 

wires through plaque

I make little hooks at the end of the wires (on the neck side) that I push into the paper mache shell.  I hold them in place with masking tape.  

hook on wires Neck with wires inside

Then I add a couple layers of cloth mache.  

cloth mache on neck

When dry this becomes a very strong, secure platform to finish sculpting the dragon.

Hang in there.  Next post this will start to look like a dragon!

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Paper Mache Ice Dragon – Even More About Jaws

I know what you are thinking…..fergodssake!  More about jaws!  Yep.  This is the last one, I promise. 

As you know I decided to use blue l.e.d. lights with this project.  Normally I would bunch lights and put them in the back of the jaws.  But these jaws will be more closed, so I’m trying something different.   I really want the icy teeth to reflect the blue light.   So I punched holes in the jaws and inserted the l.e.d.s into them. 

paper mache jaws with lights  poking holes for lights

paper mache jaws with lights  poking leds in the jaw

Then I taped the loose wires on the outside.  

paper mache jaws with lights  taped

What is great about this is that these l.e.d.s blend into the jaws when they are off.

paper mache jaws with lights  off

paper mache jaws with lights

 And when they are on, they do a nice job of reflecting the light, just as I wanted.   

paper mache jaws with lights final

The real fun is coming soon.   Assembly.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Paper Mache Ice Dragon- More work in the Jaws

More About the Jaws.  

There is more to be done to these jaws.    First is to dry brush a few highlights.   A dark pink I think. 

highlight tongue

Same with the tongue.   

highlight tongue

Next a little glue.  What?  

glue for glitter

And some, gulp, glitter!  

adding glitter to jaws

Okay, I don’t really like glitter either, although you wouldn’t know it from my last project, Alduin (and I heard plenty of complaints about it, so I don’t really need any more thanks.)   This is a very fine glitter and it’s going to go a long way toward making the dragon look frozen.      

finished jaws

The blue lights on these is going to look great.   Trust me.

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Paper Mache Ice Dragon – Jaws and Tongue

About jaws.

Well, I’ve been working hard on this project.   I’m sure some of you are already saying, “when is he going to get to the interesting part?”   And my answer would be, “never.”   This isn’t quite true, but it must be clear by now that most of the work on a project like this is building the parts.   I make one horn I like, then I make a dillion more.   I make a few teeth I like, then I make a half dillion slightly different sizes of them, just in case I change my mind about what I want to use.    And I have to stop often to gab a few chocolate chips.    (Julie keeps a bag in the freezer for when she decides to make cookies.   Of course I found them and every so often I sneak a handful.)   (A few days later I realize there are only a few chips left in the bag and must seriptitiously get to the  store and buy a replacement bag.)(I finally got caught because I bought the wrong brand.)   

Anyway, it’s time to make some jaws.   Perhaps the most recognizable feature of the steps I have put together for making dragons concerns the jaws.   Not only are the teeth and tongue, and the mouth generally, very important to the look of a dragon, the jaws constitute the basic armature of the piece.   

First I cut open the paper mache piece I made earlier.   Then I pull out the wad of paper leaving two half shells, ie.  the upper and lower jaws.

cut paper mache shell open up jaws shell

shells of jaws

I use hot glue to attach the teeth until I can “cloth mache” them in place.  More about that later.   Keeping in the spirit of the Viserion drawing, I lined the insides of the jaws with teeth, then added a few on the outside as well giving the jaws a really full look.  

put on teeth with hot glue

Between the clear teeth and the large number of them I think these jaws are rather dramatic.   I like them!  

cool jaws

I need a nice tongue.    I always make my tongues the same way.  I twist a sheet of paper, in this case phone book paper, around two pieces of wire clothes hanger.    I twist so that it tapers to a point.  Then I wrap with masking tape.  Once I have the two parts, I put a length of masking tape along the back.  Just the back.  I want to leave a crease on the top.  I will accentuate that when I add the cloth.

pieces of tongue 

tape on tongue

The wire in the tongue makes it easy to bend into interesting shapes.  I wanted a little curl at the end of this one.   

bend tongue

As most of you know, after sculpting with paper mache, I add a “skin” of cloth (old bed sheets) dipped in white glue.  Many years ago, with the publication of my first book, I dubbed this process “cloth mache” for lack of a better term.   This note that this term is used all the time now.   Adding this skin to a paper mache project makes it very strong, and it allows for great detail.  

cloth and jaws

I tear the old bed sheet into long strips and then cut them into shorter pieces.   I use these small strips to anchor the teeth.  I fold them and then wrap each tooth.   The fold in the cloth is a great facsimile for gums. 

wrap teeth with cloth more teeth wrapping

Once all the teeth are wrapped, a put a large piece of glue soaked cloth in the middle of the jaw.  Because the cloth is bigger than the jaw, wrinkles naturally form as you lay it.   Again, this method of anchoring teeth and creating the palate with cloth is characteristic of my dragon making methods.   It works very well.  

add cloth to jaws cloth palate  

I also wrap the tongue with the cloth mache.   As I mentioned, I accentuate the crease in the tongue by pushing the cloth in the gap between the two parts.   

cloth mache tongue

Initial Painting

I decided to keep with the dark, but very cold, color scheme in the Viserion drawing as well.   So I first painted the jaws purple.  Then I “blackwashed” them.  That is, I painted on watered down black paint, then wiped it off before it dried.   In the furniture world this would be called “antiquing.”  But since I was projects with lots of different colors, it makes more sense to me to call this process blackwashing.   So I do.

paint jaws blackwash jaws

blackwashing jaws

I painted the tongue a dark pink and blackwashed it as well. 

paint tongue blackwash tongue 

I will stop here.  There is a bit more to do with these jaws and tongue, too much for tonight.  I’ll finish them off next post.  

Thanks for stopping by!

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