I asked Eddie what I should make. He thought about it for a while. You can see him thinking. What he told me was that he wanted food. I explained to him that I already gave him some food and just because he didn’t like it I wasn’t about to open a second can. At least not for an hour or so. He got a bit annoyed. Anyway, he decided I should make a dragon for the Year of the Dragon. Great idea Eddie! (Okay, so that’s not really true. This dragon is being made as a commission. While I love the idea of making a dragon during the Chinese “Year of the Dragon”, privately I refer to this as “Pascal’s” dragon.)
Starting on the left I have two parts for the body, a tail, a neck and two legs.
I cut a hole in the largest of the paper mache balls and inserted the tail.
I put the pieces together with masking tape.
I tape the fingers around a crumpled wad of paper to make a hand. Then I taped the hands onto the paper mache arms I made earlier.
These wings are fairly large. When I drape the cloth dipped in glue over the fingers they will be quite heavy. So I attached string to the ends of the fingers and securde them to the ceiling of my studio. Otherwise the fingers would just bend down and it would be a mess. This is not a problem with smaller wings.Below you can see the wings after the cloth dried and I trimmed them with scissors. I’m quite happy with how they turned out. When I paint these with latex paint they will feel like leather. The rubber/cloth mache combination is perfect for wings.
Before I leave you, let me show you the making of the jaws. I know this is getting a bit old for you experts out there. But maybe there is a newbie paper mache artist visiting who has spent sleepless nights wondering about dragon jaws. I always start with one of the smaller paper mache balls. I cut it open and pull out the wad of paper leaving two half shells. I used Fimo again for the teeth (and claws and horns). I hot glued the teeth to the shells.
Then I cloth mached around the teeth and inside the jaws. On the right you can see the finished jaws. I decided to paint these green. I made a pretty cool tongue for this dragon. I usually make a bifurcated tongue, like a snake for dragons. But I wanted this to be special. I split the tongue into four parts at the end. It’s a bit hard to see. But I think it adds a lot to this dragon.
I added the jaws to the neck. I wanted the dragon to be floating, much like an eagle, scanning the horizon.
As usual, Eddie was helping me out. He decided to nudge the wing a few times, just enough to get the dragon rocking.
As you can see on the left I added some little Fimo horns. I also made some cool eyes for this dragon. Well I re-made some eyes. I took some glass taxidermy eyes and used a Drummel grinder to grind off the paint except for the lens. Then I used white and shades of blue paint and swirled them together around the cat shaped lens. They turned out very well. It’s hard to see in these photos. I’ll try to show a close-up of these eyes later on. Then I added some tentacles to the chin. On the right you’ll notice the spines starting at the nose….
…and moving down the back and tail. Later I added some cloth webbing in between the spines.
I decided later that I wanted more Fimo spikes so I added a second layer above the eyes. Then I added the usual details with cloth mache, the lips, eyelids, etc.. I think the face has a nice fierce look to it. I’m pleased.
I keep going up the neck and onto the face. Time to paint. I wanted a very bright yellow-orange color for this dragon. I guess this is my favorite color scheme for dragons.
The camera never really captures the true colors here. I painted the breast plates a light, almost pastel yellow. I did something a little different on the wings. I painted a pattern on the them. I eventually paint over it, but the pattern still shows through a little when I’m finished. It’s kind of a cool effect.
Below is the finished wing. If you look carefully you can still see the pattern underneath. Trust me, it looks great in person.
About blackwashing…So many people just refuse to do it. I can understand. You paint a project and it looks beautiful. The notion of painting it black just goes against the grain. It feels like you are going to wreck a beautiful paint job. But I’m always happy when I’m finished. It does indeed change the character of the piece. Still, in my opinion, the blackwashing makes the project come alive. It pulls out the color and really accentuates the detail. Check out the difference between this photo and the one earlier. Then you decide if it was worth it.
Here is the face after blackwashing. I really like the way it came out.
Here he is. One of the nice things about this dragon is his posture. You can hang him almost vertically and he looks like he’s ready to scratch your eyes out.
Hang him like this and he looks like he is surveying the area below.
From the back.