Paper Mache Dragon-like Cat. More assembly, and a little sad news

Hello everyone,

I’ve done some more work on my dragon-like cat project.   More about that below.  But first a little sad news.   My little cat Eddie died a couple of days ago.  He got very sick when Max died, and he never really recovered.   He was a wonderful helper in my studio, the star of many of my videos, and a dear companion.    I miss him terribly.

My little Eddie

Life goes on.   Making art helps.   So on with the dragon-cat.   I decided to add wings to this cat….of course.   I always make the “fingers” (still don’t know what to call them) out of pieces of wire clothes hangers.   I twist some paper around the wire, then some masking tape.   I add strips of cloth mache over these before sculpting to add strength.

paper mache cat dragon 18 paper mache cat dragon 19

I used the extra set of arms for the wings.  I started adding “fingers” …

 paper mache cat dragon 20 paper mache cat dragon 21

…until I had the skeleton of one wing.   Then the second.

 paper mache cat dragon 22 paper mache cat dragon 23

I cut holes in the body of the cat and poked the wings into them.

 paper mache cat dragon 24 paper mache cat dragon 26

At this point I added more cloth mache to the body and to the hands.  It’s just easier to get to some spots before I drape the wings.

 paper mache cat dragon 27 paper mache cat dragon 28

I draped the fingers with the cloth in glue.  When it was dry I trimmed them.

 paper mache cat dragon 29 paper mache cat dragon 31

So here is where it stands for now.

 paper mache cat dragon 29+

More soon.  Thanks for watching!

PS.  I am also making a couple more dragon trophies.  I can’t seem to stay away.  I’m making two that have contrasting personalities.  I’ll intend to make one time-lapse video covering the pair.   I’ll post something about those later.

Make art!


Posted in Paper Mache Dragon-like Cat | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 83 Comments

Paper Mache Dragon-like Cat Project…some assembly

Time for a little assembly.   First the body.  I wanted two parts for the body, a barrel chest and a hind quarter.   So I cut off the end of the “body” ball and insert a smaller ball into it.

assemble paper mache balls

Then taped.

paper mache pieces put together

I trimmed the excess hanger from the appendages I made.

trim paper mache legs

I started with the back legs.  I cut holes for the legs and inserted the backs of the legs into the holes.  Then added masking tape.

add paper mache back legs

As I’ve said a dillion times before, I love having clothes hangers inside the appendages.  I make cuts and then bend them into the positions I want.  The hangers insure that they stay where I want them.  Then I patch with tape.  Note that I cut the legs at the knees and patched.

bend paper mache legs

Then I added the front legs.  After that I cut a hole for the “neck” piece.

cut hole for paper mache neck

I put it in and taped it.

add paper mache neck

I did the same with the tail.

add paper mache tail

And here’s how it looks at this very early stage.  I have to say at this point that I don’t sit around worrying about how the finished piece will look.  Beyond just knowing I want it to stand, I don’t worry about details yet.   I put on the appendages knowing I can change everything later if I choose.   You can drive yourself crazy if you overthink it at this stage.

paper mache cat so far

More later.

By the way….here is a small side note.   I got a notice on Google alert about my dragon-making book.  It was being offered on a site called “”.    I think most any media you search for lately will take you to this site.  It purports to offer you unlimited (albeit stolen) entertainment.   I don’t think you actually get any media once you enter your credit card information.  What you get is unauthorized charges on your card.    I know this because I did a quick Google search “geeker scam”.   I went to their Facebook page and added some comments.  But they were all deleted quickly.  Please don’t fall for this scam!  Just had to say.

Thanks as always for stopping by.

Posted in Paper Mache Dragon-like Cat | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Paper Mache Dragon-like Cat Project

Hey all.  Well, I’ve started a couple of projects.  I’m making one more dragon trophy, just because I bought some lights (pink this time) and need to use them.   I am also making a project for an organization based in Los Angeles called, “Kitty Bungalow: Charm School for Wayward Cats.”  This is a non-profit group that works with the many feral cats that live  in and around that giant city.  This will be for an auction they hold once a year to support their efforts.   I’ve decided to make a cat-like dragon, or a dragon-like cat.   I think it will fit the “feral” theme.   In this series of posts I’ll detail the making of the second project, but not the trophy.  Most of you have seen enough of those!

As has been the history with all my “helpers”, Mazzy has decided to help me with the initial crumpling of the paper.  (Yes, she is adorable. Hardly a kitten any more!)   First I crumpled paper into a “body sized” ball.

Mazzy on the paper  Crumple paper

Next, I bent some clothes hangers for appendages.   I always make a figure “8” for the arms and legs.  Then I stuff them with wads of paper.   The top parts of the 8 are for thighs or upper arms.  The bottom parts are for calves and forearms.

bend wire paper mache appendages

Ready to mache….in the photo below from left to right… I made two small front arms, then two legs, a neck, the main body, a few smaller balls for the head (along with extra balls to use for sculpting), two “arms” for the wings, and a long cat-like tail (in the middle underneath the other pieces).

paper mache crumpled balls and appendages

To my surprise, I didn’t have any cheap, white flour in the house!  So I used Elmer’s glue for this step instead.   I prefer flour and water paste for several reasons.   The glue tends to shrink as it dries.   And it doesn’t shrink uniformly, so you end up with ridges and depressions that you have to fix later if you want a more symmetric or smooth surface.  Also, using the glue makes it much harder to cut the pieces when sculpting, and the pieces are much more brittle if you use glue.  So bending the pieces will often times cause them to break.   That doesn’t happen with flour and water paste.  But the glue will do in a pinch.   I added the newspaper strips to all the pieces.

initial paper mache paper mache the appendages

Here are all the parts after they dried a few days.

paper mache parts

I’ll be back soon with a new installment.    Thank you for your patience.   I know I haven’t been very good about posting over the last year.

Hope you are all making art!

Posted in Paper Mache Dragon-like Cat | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

New Paper Mache Helpers.

Update!   I finished the video of the dragon.   If you want to watch it just click on the photo below of me and the cats.

Hey everyone.   Look, it has taken me a long time to realize that I’m just not a great blogger.   I have the best of intentions, I really do.   The last year or so it seems like my time was not my own.    I took on a few commissions and it felt like I was behind on those from the start.  Those projects always take more time than I budget.  I know all of you artists out there understand.   I’ve actually shipped a couple of pieces without even  taking photos.  Sorry.   I just needed to get them done.   But I did take some video of my most recent commission, the dragon trophy that you see in the photo below.      My client wanted lights behind the eyes etc, so I did that.   I’m pretty happy with it.   I’ll have a time-lapse video of this project finished in the next couple of days.  I’ll post an update when it is finished.

Meanwhile, since I posted last, we picked up two new “helpers.”   I’ll use this same photo to introduce them.   The “torty” in the middle is Mazzy.  The little tabby on the right is Abby.  We got them on the same day from different shelters.   As you all know, my beloved Max died last year after a long, baffling illness.   Then, two weeks after Max died Eddy quit eating.   We are convinced that Max’s death contributed to the onset of Eddie’s illness.   Eddy just missed his friend and tormentor.   After a lot of work, and lots of vet bills, Eddie is now relatively healthy again.   Much of the reason we got the kittens was to give Eddie some company.   And he has really responded well to them.     And so have I.

Dan and new dragon and new kittens

PS.  In case you were wondering, Eddie was in his box (with the heating pad) while the photo above was being taken.

Mazzy loves to be around Eddie.   She sleeps close to him when she can.

But most of the time she is with Abby.   It’s hard not to post a hundred photos.   But I’m sure it’s like seeing a photo album of a friend’s trip…not all that exciting.  So I’ll stop now.   (Except for the two below)

In my office….

…and on one of the many kitty ramps in the house.

Okay, that’s really it.

PSS.   I’m  making a cat sculpture for a cat rescue in California.   I’ll take some photos and show the making of that project for anyone interested.     I haven’t done that in a while.

Take care.

Make art.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 65 Comments

Three more Paper Mache Trophies

Hey everyone.   Well, my resolution about writing more posts seems to have faded.   As  you all know, little Max passed away a couple months ago.   I wrote a memorial to him.   Two weeks later Eddie quit eating.   He is now recovering, but it has been a long haul.  So I’ve spent a lot of time with him in my studio where he loves to be.   I was doing art and feeding him a little every time he woke up.  So life flies by.  I’m sure you all experience the same things.    I swear I’m going to make a non-dragon project soon.   But I ended up making three dragon trophies while hanging out with Eddie.   Not commissions, just for myself.   You can see some photos below.  I did manage to make a time-lapse video as well.   Many of you have already seen it.   But if you haven’t, and want to, just click on the last photo.   Happy Holidays all!

White Paper Mache Dragon White Paper Mache Dragon 2 White Paper Mache Dragon 3

Blue Paper Mache Dragon Blue Paper Mache Dragon2

Gold Paper Mache Dragon2 Gold Paper Mache Dragon

Click on the photo below to watch the video.

Paper Mache Dragons

Posted in Uncategorized | 33 Comments

Paper Mache Commission

Hi again.  Sorry again for the lags in my posts.  It was hard doing anything while Max was sick.  But I have been working.    A while back I was asked to make a baby dragon as a birthday gift.   David Broome was working on his novel called, “DemonSeed” (you can find a pre-release version on Amazon).   The dragon was a character in the book and David’s wife (and editor) Terri asked me to make the dragon, Ilsa, using the description given in his book.  A worthy challenge.

Here is the dragon I made for David.  Of course I made a time-lapse video of the project.   You can watch it on Youtube by clicking on the photo.

Paper Mache Baby Dragon

After finishing this commission I decided to make something for myself.  I haven’t done that in a while.   Commissions are fun, but sometimes I just want to sculpt.   I decided to make a non-dragon project.   But there was that unfinished trophy in the corner of my studio….and a couple extra wood plaques, so I ended up binging on a few dragon trophies.  Oh well.  Maybe next time.    The trophies are all sculpted.  They just need paint.  I’ll post something about them very soon.

Lastly, I want to thank you all for your kind words about Max.   One last shot

Max on the paper

Speaking of Max… we have a very nice reminder of him in the form of a painted rock.  This was done by fellow artist Sue Thomas.   If you’d like to have your own pet immortalized by Sue, you can find her here, on Facebook.

Max on a rock

See you all soon.


Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments

In Memoriam

Hello everyone.   I promise to post something tomorrow showing my latest commission and show you what I’ve been up to with my art.   But first, some sad news.  I’m posting this because I know that many of you know Max, one of my dear little studio “helpers.”  He’s appeared in my books and many of my videos.    I’m very sorry to say that Max died today.  He went peacefully in his house, surrounded by all the things he loved.  He has been sick for a few months with a condition that was never fully understand or diagnosed completely (despite numerous tests, scans, and trips to the vet).    This has been part of the reason for my silence recently.     We’ve been spending as much time as possible catering to his every need.    Every pet owner understands how hard this has been.    Just a couple last photos of my little friend.

Max on his newspaper

First step in every project…get Max off the newspaper!

Max tearing his paper

Max’s favorite thing to do….tear up paper!

Max and his paper too

More paper please!

Max and the dragon

Max checking the progress of my Sea Dragon



Posted in Uncategorized | 180 Comments

Ready, Set…

Hello all,

I should say, hello to anyone left out there.  I know I have been absent for a while now.   It’s not that I haven’t been working on art.  I have.   In fact, I’ve kind of looked at the last couple months as a vacation to do just that, cozy up in my studio and just do what I want.    So I made a very nice commissioned piece, a little dragon.   But I can’t show you that yet because it is a surprise gift for someone and I’m waiting for the surprise to happen.    I’ll have some photos soon.     And I know it seems crazy, but I just wanted to make a few dragon heads for myself.   Just because I still love making them.   I can’t explain why.  I’ve got ideas for other, non-dragon projects, and they will be made at some point.   I’m just getting this out of my system first.   I promise to continue my thread about Smaug soon, and I’ll have some fresh photos very shortly.   No later than next week.  I promise.  I know, I’ve said that before.

I hope you are all enjoying your Fall (or whatever season you are in).  Hope you are making art.   Thanks as always for your patience!



Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 58 Comments

Paper Mache Smaug

Hey all.   While I was working on my dragonfly from hell, I was also making a commission.    It was the project that was keeping me sane while I was struggling with the dragonfly.  I guess I’m just built to make dragons.     Over the last few years I can’t tell you how many requests I’ve gotten to make Smaug from The Hobbit.  I resisted for a long time because I preferred making my own dragons.   But after making the Taimat trophies I remembered how challenging it was to work from someone else’s renditions.   That was certainly true of this project.   It’s hard trying to match a Hollywood digital version.  But the challenge was part of the fun.   And it turns out that I got just the right request for this dragon as a commissioned piece.    So here it is.

I intend to add the blog posts post-completion this time.   I didn’t want to start blogging about this dragon and, like with the dragonfly,  decide that I hated it and wished I hadn’t started writing about it.  But I’m happy with how my version of Smaug turned out.  So I’ll add some posts now.  I’m also making one of my time-lapse videos of this build.  It will be done today (knock on wood).  I’ll add an addendum to this post with a link when I’m finished.  Actually, I finished early!  Here is the video,

Here is the finished piece from the side.

Paper Mache Smaug

This time I used Elmer’s glue for the initial paper mache.   Not for any particular reason.  Well, that’s not exactly true.   I didn’t have any flour and didn’t want to go to the store.

make paper mache neck and head

Using white glue for the mache makes for some very nice shells.  They are very hard, but also very brittle.  They break if you try to bend them into a slightly different shape.  This is never a problem with flour and water, which I prefer.

 paper cache head

As always, I start with the shells for the jaws.  I used a photo of the Hollywood Smaug to model the teeth and to guide in their placement.

paper cache jaws

I’ll add more later about the jaws in another post.  But first, I want to focus on the tongue.   I really wanted a great tongue for this project.   I always begin making tongues by twisting newspaper around pieces of wire clothes hanger, and wrapping with masking tape.

paper mache tongue1

The wire allows me to bend the tongue into any shape I want.

paper mache tongue 2

In this case I added extra paper to make it wider at the top.

paper mache tongue 3

Then I pinched the edges to make it flatter on the sides.

paper mache tongue4

I’ll write more about the cloth mache of the tongue and mouth next time.   But I wanted you to see the finished tongue before then.  So here is Smaug again, from the front.     Check out the tongue.

Paper Mache Smaug -front

By the way, thank you all so much for the nice remarks and comments about my dragonfly project.     Even though it doesn’t help me to like it any more, I really do appreciate the support.  You are the best!  And thank you for your patience.

Until next time…Make Art!



Posted in Paper Mache Smaug | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 87 Comments

Paper Mache Dragonfly – Done.

And I really mean DONE.  That’s about all I can say about this project.   I’m not particularly happy with it.  I haven’t been from the start.  I’m stubborn.  I should have used it for parts about the second week.    But I just can’t start a project and leave it half finished.     I worked on other projects, but it just stared at me from the corner of the room.

Now I know that you are all very nice people, and many of you will want to make me feel better about this.   As much as I appreciate all your support, there really is no need to try to change my mind about it.  I just am not happy with it.  So no video for this one.  I’m going to plug my nose and post a few last photos, just so you can see how everything finally played out.

I must say though, I feel very FREE!

So…. painting.  I don’t usually use spray paint, but this project called for it.   I masked off the Fimo spikes, the eyes, teeth, and wings, took it into the back yard, and spray painted the back side orange.

Paper Mache Dragonfly -spray orange

Then I sprayed the front side yellow.

Paper Mache Dragonfly -spray yellow

Then I cut pieces of masking tape into various shapes to mask off those two colors.  (Yes, this did take a dillion hours.)

Paper Mache Dragonfly -add tape

I took it back outside and spray painted the project black.

Paper Mache Dragonfly -spray black

I have to admit, taking off the pieces of tape was fun.

Paper Mache Dragonfly -pull off tape

Of course, I liked the color scheme on the back side MUCH better than the front side.   I would expect no less from a project that has given me so much trouble.

Paper Mache Dragonfly -pull off tape front

Lastly, I pulled the tape off of the wings.

Paper Mache Dragonfly -pull off tape wings

I decided that maybe the project just needed a little….something. So I made a little bug for the big bug to eat.  A beetle-ish sort of bug.

Paper Mache Dragonfly -little bug

I wanted him to look a little worried.

Paper Mache Dragonfly -little bug close u

I gave the little guy to the dragonfly.  It didn’t really help.

True to form, getting decent photos of this piece was impossible.   It’s just too busy!  Too much contrast in the colors.  It looks much better in person.  The camera just can’t match what your eyes can see.    This angle from the side was the only one that allowed for separation of the head from the body.

Paper Mache Dragonfly - with bug

When I shot from the front I just got a kaleidoscope of color (reminded me of my college days).  I finally quit trying to get that full frontal shot.   Sorry.  So here he is from the side, a little bigger.

Paper Mache Dragonfly - full

And finally, the other side.

Paper Mache Dragonfly - other side

So there it is.  Thank you all for your patience.   I have been working on another project, more down my usual alley.    I can’t tell you how may people have wanted me to make Smaug from The Hobbit.  I resisted for a long time.  That is until  a very sweet woman convinced me that it would be the perfect gift for her grandchildren.   So I’ve been working on that on the side.  I’ll have something to show you from that very soon.

Take care

Make art!   (Well, make art that you like!)

Posted in Paper Mache Dragonfly | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 80 Comments