Paper Mache Dragonfly – body, head, and eyes

Hi all.  Well, once again, this post is late in coming.    As I’ve stated many times ….it’s not my fault.  I have an ADHD problem with my paper mache art.   I start something and then get sidetracked, usually by another piece of art.   I am also working on a commissioned piece.   I’m making a fairly large set of trophies that illustrate the “Tiamat” Dragon in Dungeons and Dragons.   It is a multi-headed dragon that has five distinct heads.   I’m doing this for a restaurant in Savannah Georgia.  More on this later.

Meanwhile, I’m still moving along with my paper mache dragon-like dragonfly.   Here is a quick progress report.

My wings are finished and waiting.   They turned out well.   So on to the body…

I want a segmented body.   I started with a medium sized paper mache ball.    I added more paper mache balls (that got smaller as I worked my way down the body)…

paper mache dragonfly- start body

… until I got to the tail.   Here is a look at the body with all the balls in place.

paper mache dragonfly- body- done

I added a couple more segments for a neck.

paper mache dragonfly- add neck

Then I made a head in the usual way.  I made teeth out of Fimo.   I cut open another paper mache ball and hot glued the teeth around the shells to make jaws.

paper mache dragonfly-head

I also made a small, dragon-like tongue.

paper mache dragonfly-tongue

I added cloth mache to the jaws and painted them blue.  Then I hot glued the tongue into the lower jaw.

paper mache dragonfly- head added

Now I must talk a bit about the eyes.  I wanted big, bulbous eyes for this project.  That would make it more insect like.   But it is also a dragon, so I wanted something that looked enough like a dragon as well.   So I used two taxidermy, elephant eyes.  I used my Dremel grinder to grind away almost all of the paint inside the eye.   I left only what I wanted as slits for the lens.

paper mache dragonfly- eyes grinding

This is how they looked.

paper mache dragonfly- eyes- first lens

Of course, as soon as I saw these lenses I realized that they were just too thin.  So I used black paint to widen the lenses.  Sorry about the next few photos.  They are pretty blurry.  But you’ll get the idea.

paper mache dragonfly- new lens

I painted some yellow stripes emanating outward from the lenses.  While still wet, I added some orange paint.

paper mache dragonfly- eyes orange added

Likewise, while the yellow and orange paint was still wet, I added a layer of red over the entire eye.   Because it was all wet, it blended together.

paper mache dragonfly- eyes with red paint

Here are the finished eyes.   I like them.  I think when they are on the project, they will look both dragon-like and insect-like.  We’ll see.

paper mache dragonfly -eyes finished

Thanks for stopping by.  More later.


About danmonsterman

I've been a paper mache artist for many years. Visit my website for instructional videos, galleries, and everything else paper mache. Or visit my WebPress blog,
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51 Responses to Paper Mache Dragonfly – body, head, and eyes

  1. D. L. Cook says:

    Looks good so far, Dan! Like the eyes and the segmented body! 🙂

  2. Your stuff is so much cooler than the paper coating a balloon that I was thinking of!
    Thanks again for the inspiration.

  3. Lori says:

    Wow! Great eyes. You always go way above and beyond when it comes to your projects.
    Can’t wait to see this all finished.

    I know about getting side tracked. I have been so bad for that lately! Some days it seems like I don’t get anything accomplished because I am trying to do 5 things at once. (None of which get completed.)

    You seem to be working along at a fine pace. Your work is so meticulous and that takes many hours of hard work. Of course we would all like to see more but that is probably just not possible, since you probably need to sleep once in a while.


    • Hi Lori. I’m glad to hear that you are the same way when it comes to staying on one task. I’m always working. I’ve been experimenting with big horns. Experimenting can take a lot of time. But it has to be done. Things have to be extra strong when it’s going to be displayed in public. People will be able to touch this project. Very dangerous! There will always be that kid who wonders “how strong is that tooth?” and will yank it until it breaks. That used to happen to me when I sold at a large, fine arts fair every year. And parents would watch it happen. I wondered whether those parents ever took those kids to an art museum and if they let the kids pick at the paint. …see, off topic.
      Talk to you later.

      • Lori says:

        Haha. Your story about an art gallery reminds me of the lady and her brat in Moab recently. We were in a very nice gallery/gift shop with many expensive, breakable, one of a kind pieces. The kid was running wild. I tried to very tactfully say something and my remark flew right over her head. I had to leave the place before I got myself in trouble by being not so tactfully with another remark.
        Yes, experimenting can use up many hours. I used up a good part of the day yesterday, doing that.
        Good luck with your indestructible, kid proof (monster proof) pieces!

      • You are funny. You know, it’s the teacher in me, but I’ve been in many situations like you described and I do say something, usually directly to the kid. Some parents get very offended. But I don’t care. If the kid is being obnoxious and the parent won’t parent, then someone has to. I’ve had parents get all huffy, and act like no one has the right to talk to their kids. I mean, I didn’t lay hands on any of them. But I can certainly tell them to knock off what they are doing because it is rude or recklass. I used to have to put signs around my art booth that said “Don’t pick the drool!” People thought it was funny, but I was quite serious. Kid’s (and sometimes adults!) would pick at the nice string of drool I worked so hard to get. It made me so mad. As I said, would these same people pick at the paint in a gallery? I don’t know why they thought it was okay to yank on the teeth or claws or drool on my art. Oh well. I just hope the people who own the restaurant are a little vigilant because the piece won’t be indestructible even though I will make sure certain parts are stronger than usual.

  4. Ricki says:

    I’m looking forward to see the ready dragonfly. It will turn out awesome!

  5. Pinki says:

    The lens..what is it made of?

  6. Cheryl Thompson says:

    I really like the effect you achieved on the eyes. Very COOL!

  7. Rubydragon says:

    Love to see this progress and can’t wait to see those beautiful eyes attached!

    Like you and Lori -and probably whole tribes of artists- I have the same: being busy with multiple things and jumping from one project to another. There is just so much to do (and explore!) and never enough time to do it in, right?

    At least you stick with the same medium LOL I go from clay projects (air-dry and polymer clay, sculpting and making dragons) to gourd art (making birds, bird houses, and bowls), then a side track to my wooden model ship (making it from scratch and the plans I’ve found aren’t really correct in measurements so that takes a lot of time), to end up with working on a graphite pencil drawing….

    I think today, since the temperatures are down a bit and it is raining, I will start cleaning out a corner in the garage because I have been dying to work with the paper mache because of your blog 🙂

    Just happy to see whatever you have time for to show us!


  8. claudia says:

    I have admired your work for about 6 months now. I decorate paper mache masks. When I saw your dragons, it was the answer to my wanting a dragon mask. I have made one and everyone likes it. I am working on 2 more. I can’t wait to see the finished dragonfly. I have four helpers (cats) and one temporary helper. They are wonderful. Your work is amazing. -claudia

  9. Bridget cheverton says:

    Hi DAn lovely to see your latest work , the eyes are to die for, and the iidea of a dragonfly is so cool I love bugs too.lve promise my son a dragon head mounted for his office wall by xmas I hope I can do you justice as my memtor if I may be so bold. Again I adore your work . Cheer from Tasmania

  10. Beautiful work! Very meticulous and professionally done!

  11. tuanminh vu says:

    Cam on! Tôi cũng thích nghệ thuật của bạn! Tôi cũng học được cách làm rất nhanh chóng, nó thực sự phù hợp với tính cách và sở thích cung cấp tài năng của tôi!                                                                              Cam on. Để đem lại cho tôi một con đường!



  13. Stella says:

    I like what you’ve done with the eyes. This project is going to be great!

    • Hey Stella. Thanks! It’s been hard sticking to one project. I’m trying to ship dragons, do a commission, and help my daughters move. Hope all is well with you.

  14. Carol says:

    Looking wonderful, Dan, and the eyes are just brilliant! You have such great style!

    • Hey Carol. It’s always nice to hear from you! The next post will show how it all starts to work. Talk to you later

    • pandora rosebud says:

      the eyes are wonderful. I learn more everyday. My dragon mask is on hold, but only while I knit some baby clothes. I need 20 more masks for the faire I do in the fall. I’m really waiting patiently to see the finished dragonfly. too cool. claudia

      • Thanks Claudia. I’ll have to spend some focused time here on the dragonfly. I’m also doing a commissioned piece, a five-headed dragon trophy for a restaurant. I have lots of parts all over the place. I’ll show some of that at some point too. Just hard to do the work and write about it at the same time. But it will all gush out here shortly. Thanks for you patience.
        Good luck with all the masks.

  15. Mike Kelly says:

    Hello Dan, I purchased your book to read on a long plane flight. But, once I started reading it I couldn’t put it down. I started paper mache last year when I had some time off from work. I made some Halloween decorations, but they didn’t turn out good, but they were good enough for halloween. I have a question. I noticed I can’t see any seams in your cloth mache. How do you hide the seams?

  16. Mike Kelly says:

    Dan, I used your paper mache recipe. It works great, except one small problem. You have cats to keep away your unwanted little mice friends, I don’t. What can I add to keep my paper mache balls from being a late night snack? I’m going to order the rest of your book series, until then I’d like to see more Halloween ideas. Thanks, Mike Kelly.

    • Hello Mike. I noticed that you bought the dragon book. I don’t have any mice here. If you want you can substitute white glue (full strength) for the flour and water paste). It works well and isn’t organic. So far as Halloween is concerned, check out Scott Stoll (Stolloween). He’s the master of that genre. Good luck!

  17. Oh my God, I loved your work sooo much!
    When you come to Brazil pleeeeeeaaase make a workshop!!!!! 🙂
    Well, I need to make a dragon in a few days… and can you tell me what is this “wet white thing” that you put on top, after drying the paper?


  18. jessica says:

    It looks as though you have inspired so many people to paper mache. My question is how and what type or brand of lights did you use for your malificent dragon? I am a voulenteer for the central valley high school marching band in Spokane Washington and we would love to light up our malificent dragon. It is the first time I have paper mache’d anything but I truly understand why you do it now. It is incredible to use paper to create such characters and art. For our finally we want to light our dragon up from the 50 yard line of a football field. Any suggestions are welcome. Thank you!

  19. Mike Kelly says:

    Dan, I will try to add glue to your recipe. It should work. I’m also going to buy one of those devices u plug in and it keeps mice away. I’m another person tired of living in Los Angeles and want to move to Seattle. My wife and I are going to visit Seattle next month and look on Bainbridge island. Do you know any good real estate agents? If you do you can email me. Thanks. Mike Kelly

    • Hey Mike. I know of a terrific real estate agent, although I’m not sure of his experience with the islands. My brother has used him twice and I used him to sell my mother’s house when she died. He is supremely competent and honest and a great negotiator. He’ll get you the best price selling or buying. Just really like him.
      He’s J.D. Harkins. He was with Windermere when we used him. His numbers are: Business- 206-546-5731, cell- 206-769-7432 and his email is I hope these still work. It has been a few years. If they aren’t I’m sure you could find him on the web. He’s worth the effort.
      Good luck!

  20. Grumpmeister Fink says:

    Hi Dan, I was looking at your rendition of “Violator” and I was wondering how you made the glass eyes rounded. Thanks.

    • Hey there Grumpmeister. I hate to say it but I bought the red glass and then hired a glass blower to melt it over a rounded piece of clay. The eyes on that particular project was something I knew I couldn’t make myself. Good luck! That’s an ambitious project!

  21. Mike Kelly says:

    Thanks for the realtor info. My wife and I are coming to Seattle this Sunday. This visit we will be checking out different areas. Question: what supplier do you use for your glass eyes? I need to buy some for my vampires and reindeer. Thanks

    • You are welcome. JD is the best. I buy my eyes mostly online from taxidermists. There are four or five companies I use. They are all slightly different eyes so it’s good to shop around. Just google “taxidermy eyes” and you’ll find them all. Good luck with the projects!

  22. Kim says:

    I love your videos, I hope we’ll see videos for these! Thanks for everything you do 🙂

    • Thanks Kim. I will make a video for this. But it is going to be a challenge trying to squeeze five heads into a three minute video. People don’t watch if it’s any longer. I’ve got some ideas though.

  23. Eric and Cheryl says:

    Love your work. Where do you get the plastic cups, that you paint the insides for eyes ?

    • Hello Eric and Cheryl. I use glass eyes that I get online from taxidermy companies. You can get “blanks” and paint your own. For this particular project I actually bought very big eyes, elephant eyes, and ground off the paint from the back with a Drummel tool.

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