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!)

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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82 Responses to Paper Mache Dragonfly – Done.

  1. Peg says:

    Scary, scrappy, and colorful, he looks like a character that just crawled out of comic book. I love him!

  2. Martina says:

    Hi Dan, you made it very obvious that you don’t like the piece, but I have to say, I think it looks awesome!! So if something you don’t like turns out this well, I guess you know what that says about your other pieces…:)

  3. Arnd says:

    Again astonishing, amasing and wonderfull work, inspiring and just beautifull.
    Thanks to share this project with us, eagerly awaiting your next….

  4. Marion says:

    Oh well, that is one mean motherfucker of a dragonfly. I bet he’ll grow on you, you’ll become very fond of the little bastard over time.

    • Thanks Marion. Well, I put him on the wall. I’ll see if I change my mind over time. It’s true that sometimes you just loose objectivity on some pieces. Can no longer see the forest for the trees.

  5. Nacho says:

    But, but…but look at that bug’s face!! That’s the cutest thing I’ve seen in a long time!!
    And for your sanity, I’m really happy that you’re done with this piece, it’s clear thet you didn’t like it and needed to finish it in order to move on, even though us, mere mortals, would be delighted to produce something like that!!

  6. I totally empathise- no matter how many great comments and complements – when a project veers away from the vision you have for it – just plain maddening right? I know that feeling that it won’t work out but you gotta keep going til it’s at least a finished piece even tho it’s not what you plan.

    That aside, I love the finished effect too! Hope your next project goes more to plan for you 😊

    • You understand. I’m feeling much better about the commission I’m working on. That’s the key I think, just moving on with the next project. Thank you ephemeral gecko.

  7. Well done you for sticking it out and finishing this piece. I know what its like to start a project and not like it, but you just can’t leave it unfinished. It can become almost painful to actually continue with it. But it still looks awesome so kudos to you.

  8. Rick Neilsen says:

    Thanks for sharing Dan! I always enjoy seeing your process.

  9. anitamills says:

    Thanks for sharing this! Despite your feelings about it, the dragonfly is an amazing piece. And, I’m sure, much was learned during the making. What will happen to it now?

  10. The dragonfly looks fantastic. I work in clay and would love to be able to create figures as great as yours.

  11. Thanks for sharing, Dan. While it sounds like it was a grueling and horrible project. I always ask myself: What did I learn? Normally the most horrible and challenging projects teach me the most. So, I’ll ask you the same. What did you learn?

    • Hey David. I think I learned that it’s okay to give up on a project once in a while. Or maybe that I should pick more carefully. I’ll think about what you said. Maybe something more profound will hit me. Thanks for the note.

  12. Jamie Chenault says:

    Like all of your other projects posted……a WONDERFUL bug!!! Love it!

    • Thanks Jamie. For a bug, it’s all right. I think that’s what went wrong from the beginning. I wanted more dragon and less bug, but despite my best efforts, I got the reverse. Oh well.

  13. manofsteelej says:

    That thing is hideous. I love it

    Sent from my iPhone


  14. cristina says:

    para mi es genial, no siempre tenemos que estar contentos con nuestras obras,hay que soltar hacer y seguir sin ponerse tan meticuloso, mi papá es un claro ejemplo de eso nunca es lo que su mente le dicta que tiene que ser, y guarda todas sus obras en un cajón, yo creo en la obra más alla de su creador,besos amo lo que haces .

  15. solitaire777 says:

    There’s nothing wrong with walking away from a project that you know has no future. I’ve done it once or twice myself. We all know you’re not a quitter, but sometimes it’s best to just walk away. Since you feel so free…that right there tells you it was the right decision to make. Thumbs up! 🙂

  16. Diane S says:

    I’m not being “nice”. I absolutely love it. It’s incredible! Everything you do(and the stories of production) inspires me to push myself. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Julia says:

    Well all I can say, once again is WOW. I think it’s an awesome piece of artwork, I hope he does grow on you.

  18. OMG i just totallyyyyy LOVE LOVE LOVEEE IT 😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍

  19. Grumpmeister Fink says:

    Artists are often much more critical of their own work than others are. As an “other” I really like this piece, and as artist I know how some projects just feel… wrong after a certain point. A lot of effort went into making this piece, and from any perspective, this dragon-fly is very interesting. Keep up the great effort, and keep making amazing art, good luck!

    • Hey Grumpmeister. I totally agree. You couldn’t have said it more perfectly. Somewhere along the line I just lost this one. Sometimes you just cut your losses and declare it done. Thank you as always for your insight.

  20. CatPersonSue says:

    It is an INTERESTING piece. There is something a bit odd about it, but… I can’t put my finger on what it is. I am curious to know why YOU don’t like it.

    • Hey Sue. I don’t know why I don’t like it. I have completely lost objectivity. I think I wanted more dragon, less bug. But it turned out exactly the opposite. But there was a point where it was too late to turn back. Maybe I’ll see it differently later on. You are right, there is something a bit odd about it.

  21. Carol says:

    Dan, I’ve always loved the wings but wasn’t sure about the body. I wasn’t even sure about the colours, then suddenly it all came together! It’s quite terrifying, but it’s fabulous! I do understand that if you’re not happy with it then that’s it, but I can see from the comments that it’s got quite a good reception. Looking forward to your new project. Carol

    • Thanks as always Carol. Actually, I held out hope at each stage that I would like it more. That’s probably as much as anything why I kept going. Since I can’t pin down what I don’t like anymore, there is no way to know how to fix it. So it is what it is. I have lost objectivity. I’m sure you have been there. All artists have I think. Hope all is well.

  22. says:

    Love it! The colors are perfect.

    Sent from my iPhone


  23. LaVerseau says:

    Well, what can I say…. You are a gifted person…. It is just as amazing as every work you´ve shared with us, up to now. Thank you very much for showing us your job.

  24. I actually think he turned out rather well!! Some one somewhere will love him/her.

  25. Personally I think he’s great, he has personality, he’s colorful, and I like anything you make. Can’t wait to see the next project!!

  26. Henriette Liet says:

    Hi Dan. I think you are too modest, I love what you create. Look forward to your next project. Regards Hetty

  27. Dave White says:

    Nice one mate, nice one indeed.

  28. Hels says:

    the dragonfly is phenomenal – awesome. it is difficult to see the good when you don’t like working on something – i know. but then it is on with the next. keep going – love your work and am always fascinated to see what you are doing

  29. Stella says:

    I’m sorry the dragonfly didn’t turn out how you wanted. Some projects are like that. It happens to the best of us, but it’s very disappointing when you’ve put in all that work.

    But I love the colours you used and the way you made the markings on its body with masking tape. That is just so cool!

  30. Jame says:

    Hello Dan….as always your work amazes me !!! This little creature is scary in its own right while being cute at the same time. I love it! Thanks so much for sharing…eleven if you aren’t a fan of it.😉


    • Thank you Jamie. Comments like that mean a lot. I really didn’t want to add that last post. It is funny how I like the little bug that took one day to make much more than the big one that took weeks to make.

  31. Lori says:

    I think he looks great. What a lot of trouble you went through doing that paint job.
    The little bug does look worried! You certainly captured that. Poor little guy!
    Your disappointment with this is probably just because you love dragons so much and you don’t think it is dragon like.
    I hope it does grow on you because it is fabulous and does deserve to have your approval!

  32. Michael says:

    I love this! The colors are amazing

  33. Aj says:

    First off, Edible Bug is fantansicly cute, lil ‘ol eys all buggin out & distraught.As always the meticulous details are pretty impressive. I know the wings were dealing you fits, but thank you for slugging on & finishing it. .They have a kind of etherial, angry, sturdyness to them, so very unlike the wings on your dragons. I love getting your update emails, like a happy splash of creativity:)

    • Thank you for your nice remarks AJ. I really appreciate them. The problem with blogging about something is that you have to finish once you start, no matter what. But that’s okay. Maybe this will grow on me.
      Take care

  34. Joy Hodges says:

    I know artists are their own worst critics. I like to think I have discerning tastes as I am a great fan of the masters. Having said that I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS DRAGONFLY! His colors, the way you executed them is beyond awesome! His expression is priceless and his wings are beautifully done. I hope you can grow to love him as much as I do! I even gave him the name of “Night Flight”. Thank you so very much for sharing!

  35. Elin Katz says:

    Dan- I understand your feelings completely. Just an observation from experience: make the dragonfly’s eyes able to be directed towards the bug. That would give it more interaction and story.

    • Thanks Elin. I agree. Turning the head, or the eyes would help. But I really don’t want to touch this project for a while. I have a much better project to show in the next couple of days.

  36. Elizabeth says:

    Dear Dan,

    I have a few comments:

    1. I read a great book — published in 1999 — called “Make Something Ugly… For a Change!” I recommend it. 😉

    2. It’s okay to like some pieces you make less than you like others. Dude. That’s the process. And while you’re moping, look up “regression toward the mean”. After the tour de force of the Tiamat Dragon, it was probably all but *inevitable* that your next piece would please you less. (This gets me every time I make something I’m proud of. Every. Single. Time.)

    3. We quilters say, “Finished is better than perfect.” Good for you to see it through, get it out of your system, and then dust your hands and go on to the next thing.

    4. *I* say, “Know when to fold ’em.” Finishing a piece, even if you aren’t liking it, gives you another opportunity to learn something new about each phase of a process. Otherwise our “finishing” skills would always be way behind our starting skills. But if it’s just vexatious the whole time, pitch it and move on.

    5. When you know you don’t like a work in progress, you have the option of declaring that you have “nothing to lose”, throwing caution to the wind, and trying some really out-there stuff, even if it’s slapdash, just for the hell of it. (You might already know this. But you may have forgotten.)

    6. I am concerned that you wrote that you felt obligated to finish the dragon fly because you had started showing some pictures of the partly-finished piece on your blog. News flash: You do not owe us a finish of everything you show. That is the tail wagging the dog. Er, dragon. Please, please, please, give yourself permission to write, “I’m setting such-and-such a piece aside for a while, perhaps indefinitely. I’m more exited about something else, right now.” We will all still love you. We will all still admire your gift and your skill and your grit. We will all continue to be grateful for what you do choose to share on your blog. We will all still respect you as a person and an artist.

    End of sermon.

    P.S. I love the bug’s eyes, and expression, too. Poor widdle thing!

    • That was a great sermon Elizabeth! Thank you! Yes, I did feel some obligation to finish once I started blogging about it. But I knew that would be the case with every project once I started blogging. In some ways it’s a blessing because it made me finish, like it or not. I needed to finish that piece. So it isn’t my favorite. That’s a luxury problem as they say. I’m VERY happy with the one I just finished. I’m editing the video. I should have something to post in the next couple of days. So it’s the yin and yang of art.
      Funny about the “Ugly” book. That is now a collector’s item. You should check out the prices that book is selling for. I wish I’d kept a few!
      Thanks again

  37. Cher Thompson says:

    Hi Dan- I know what’s bugging you about this guy- (pun intended) You didn’t get to black wash it.
    I really like this project!
    The super bright colors brining me back to my teen days of Black Light Posters in Spencer Gifts in the late 60’s. I know you are too young to get that reference-but I really like the little snack you gave him.

    Keep up the great work!

    Deltona, Florida

  38. Val says:

    You are my inspiration

  39. Gail Bailey says:

    Hey Dan, what did you use for the wings?

    • Hello Gail. After sculpting with paper mache pieces I add a “skin” of cloth (old bed sheets) dipped in white glue. That is what you see when I’m making wings. I’m draping the bed sheets soaked in glue over the structure.

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