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 , , , , , , , , , , | 89 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

Paper Mache Dragonfly -equivocation hell

Hi everyone.  Well, as soon as I shipped my Tiamat project I got back to work on my dragon-like dragonfly.    That’s what I was calling it, because it was supposed to be dragon-like in every way I could make it.     But pretty quickly I started down that path we all get into once in a while (at least I hope I’m not the only one) when no sooner than I’d make a decision about some aspect of the piece I’d change my mind.    And when that starts happening, it’s sort of like a hot flash, you know it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.   (yeh, men get hot flashes too)

One of the reasons I haven’t posted in a while is because I was waiting for this to stop.  I was waiting for an artistic path to make itself clear, and then I would report on the happy traveling.     But now the sculpting is almost complete and I still haven’t gotten out of that equivocation hell.   So I guess I’ll just write about it.

It started with the eyes.  As I mentioned in my last post about this project I decided to paint my own eyes.  I wanted dragon-like eyes, but big, like a bug.  I was happy with them at first, until I put them on the project.  Here is the first look.

paper mache dragonfly - old face

I added some horns.  Dragons have horns.   But it didn’t help.  It already started looking much more bug-ish than I wanted.

paper mache dragonfly - first face

Then I added some tentacle-like things.

paper mache dragonfly - old eyes other side

Meanwhile, I made the eight arms/legs.  I wanted basic bug arms but dragon-ish hands.  Here are the hands before cloth.

dragonfly hands

Here are the finished arms/legs.

paper mache dragonfly- arms

I added some detail to the tail. I emphasized the segmentation.  I like the way this turned out.

paper mache dragonfly- tail

Here it is from the side after everything was assembled and most of the cloth mache skin was added.   But I’ll tell you, I just hated the eyes.   It’s not rational.   It was all bug.  No dragon.  Which then made the neck seem odd.  I was ready to put it out with the trash (my garbage collectors might have gotten a kick out of it).  By the way, I will fix that bump where the wings stick out.  I will build it up between the neck and the top of the wings to make a better transition between the two.

paper mache dragonfly- old eyes

After lots of back and forth I got up at 3 in the morning and tore the eyes out.  It was very satisfying.

paper mache dragonfly- eyes out

Later in the morning I replaced them with these dark green alligator eyes.

paper mache dragonfly side

I think I like this better……but I’m not sure.  Argh.

paper mache dragonfly finished

Here’s how it stands at the moment.   It’s not the prettiest thing I’ve ever made.  In fact, it’s ugly.  But I must finish it after putting in this much time.

paper mache dragonfly

Maybe the paint will help.  Maybe if I paint it and change my mind and paint it again, and again, and again, I’ll like it.

I’ve also been working on a couple of commissions.  I’ll show you those at some point.  They are going much better.

More soon.   Take care.   Make art.

Posted in Paper Mache Dragonfly | Tagged , , , , , , , | 78 Comments

Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon – Time- lapse video finished

Hey all.   I know that some people have been waiting for the time-lapse video of the Tiamat Dragon (while others have seen enough of this thread).    I finally finished it.    I had to edit 180+ videos which is why it took so long.     If you want to see the video just click on the photo.    Coincidentally, they unveiled the project last night, New Year’s Eve, at The Chromatic Dragon restaurant in Savannah, Georgia.     I’m always extremely relieved when one of my projects survives the shipping.

Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon

Happy New Year to you all!     I hope you make lots of art in 2016!



Posted in Tiamat Dragons | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Paper Mache Tiamat – Finished!

Hey everyone.   Well, my version of the Tiamat Dragon is finished.    I am currently making custom crates to ship it off to The Chromatic Dragon restaurant in Savannah, Georgia.   I swear, making those crates is harder than making the dragons.

For those of you keeping track I started this project mid-September.  It has been a gloriously laborious project.   I’ve really enjoyed trying to capture the essence of this Dungeons and Dragons character.    As I mentioned in earlier posts, I did use the official wallpapers as a guide.  But I added my own artistic touches here and there.   I hope you like these.  So…for the final reveal…

…I’ll start with the White dragon.  I changed the tall crest on the neck to be more consistent with the art that Amy sent me a while back.   Here I just wanted clean lines and a striking white color rather than a lot of detail.  So she has the least amount of horns.

Paper Mache Tiamat - White

Here she is from the other side.

Paper Mache Tiamat - White 2

Next, the Red dragon.   My camera never seems to capture the subtlety of color in my projects.  You’ll just have to trust me when I say that there is much more variation in the red color than this photo suggests.

Paper Mache Tiamat - Red2

And here it is from the other side.

Paper Mache Tiamat - Red

Just in case you didn’t see it, here is one of the wallpapers I used as a guide.

Tiamat Dragon wallpaper

Here is the Black dragon.   This is still my favorite.  I guess I like the horns the best.   Again, there is much more subtlety in the black than you can see.  There is a bit of blue and purple and red in this project.

Paper Mache Tiamat - Black3

This is a slightly different view.

Paper Mache Tiamat - Black

Now the Blue dragon.   Everyone who has seen this project in person tells me that this is their favorite.   I think people just like blue as a color. I admit it does have a very distinctive look.    For those of you who followed this project closely,  you’ll notice that I removed the extra horns I had where these ears are now.  Once again, Amy was the one who told me that the Blue dragon had “big honkin ears!”     I’m pretty happy with the way these ears turned out.   They look very close to the drawings in the book she sent.

Paper Mache Tiamat - Blue

I have to admit, the Green dragon had to grow on me.  For a while I thought it was just too horse-like.    But I’m okay with it now.   The paint helped.   And I really like the twisted horns.   That was a touch I added.

Paper Mache Tiamat - Green

Here they are all together.   I have to say, I’m pleased with the overall result.   I hope everyone at The Chromatic Dragon find this to their liking.

Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon

I am in the middle of editing a time-lapse video of this project.   I had over 180 sessions taped.    So please be patient with me on this.   I’ll get it done as soon as I can and I’ll post it when it’s finished.

Thanks for stopping by.   Make art!!

Posted in Tiamat Dragons | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 77 Comments

Paper Mache Tiamat – Very close!

Hi Everyone.    I must apologize for my absence the last couple of weeks.    I had some minor emergencies to deal with.   Sometimes life gets in the way of art.   I’ve gotten many requests for a progress report, so here is an update on my Tiamat commission.    I have finished the painting.   The project is done.    But I need to get some good photos so that  I can post.   I will do so as soon as I get photos that I like.   I’m also editing the 180+ time-lapse video segments I took to make one of my time-lapse videos for Youtube.    Everything takes more time than I expect.    I’m sure all of you artists get that.     I will have something for you very soon, I promise.    Thank you for your patience!

Posted in Tiamat Dragons | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon – Green assembly

Hi again.  Well, here is the assembly of the fifth and last head of my Tiamat Dragon commission.  I have to mention that I made some changes to a couple of heads after getting some information from Amy.  She sent me a document with some more photos of the dragons.  It turns out that the Blue dragon has some very distinctive, large ears.   So I replaced the horns on the Blue dragon and added those ears.  I also made some small changes to the Red and White dragons.  I’ll show you those changes in a later post.    I’ll focus this post on the Green dragon head.

As usual, I put the jaws and tongue together first.   Then I used paper mache shells to build the forehead…

Paper Mache Tiamat - Green start assembly

… and a rudimentary nose.

Paper Mache Tiamat - Green build forehead

Speaking of noses… I liked the crinkled look on the wallpaper on the left, but I also liked the more smooth version on the right.

green tiamat 1 tiamat Green 2

So I tried both.  In the end I preferred the smoother version.   But who knows, I may change my mind.  Everything is tentative until I crate these up for shipping.

Paper Mache Tiamat - Green experiment on nose Paper Mache Tiamat - Green sculpt face

One of the main features of the Green dragon is a big, beautiful spine.   Right down my alley!   That’s what I added.   I also sculpted some little indentations around the eyes and temples that I saw in the wallpapers.  I like these brown eyes.  They will look good with the green color I think.

Paper Mache Tiamat - Green Spine

Time to add the all important horns.  I wanted each dragon to have a distinctive horn shape.    I decided to give these horns a twist, kind of a spiral shape.   I’m happy with them.

Paper Mache Tiamat - Green horns Paper Mache Tiamat - Green horns start

I added these horns along the brow, the chin (you can see those below), and the jowls.

Paper Mache Tiamat - Green horns

Time to add the cloth mache skin.  The wallpapers showed a different kind of breast plate for the Green dragon.   They look more like scales to me.    I made some hexagonal plates for the breast.

Paper Mache Tiamat - wallpaper Paper Mache Tiamat - Green breast plates

Then I added cloth mache lips and eyelids.

Paper Mache Tiamat - cloth mache eyelids and lips

I also like the kind of scale on this wallpaper.

Paper Mache Tiamat - wallpaper2

This is my interpretation of that pattern.   Again, I just used paper mache shells for these.  That gave them a bumpy kind of texture.  I covered them with cloth mache.

Paper Mache Tiamat - Green scales

So here is the assembled Green dragon.

Paper Mache Tiamat - Green assembled

And here is the Green dragon with the rest of the heads.

Paper Mache Tiamat - assembly complete

Next, painting!   Thanks for stopping by!

Posted in Tiamat Dragons | Tagged , , , , , , , | 39 Comments

Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon – Blue Dragon assembly

Hi again.   So here is Tiamat dragon number four, the Blue dragon.   This one is characterized by the big, prominent horn sticking straight up from the nose.   Kind of cool.    And it has a more squat, kind of short face.    Very different from the other dragons.

Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon - Blue wallpaper Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon - Blue wallpaper2

In the paintings he also had buck teeth on the top, six very prominent teeth jutting out.    I didn’t notice those when I made the jaws, but it was easy enough to fix.   I pulled out the teeth I had in the front of the top jaw, then replaced them with six bigger ones.

Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon - Blue fix front teeth too Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon - Blue fix front teeth

One quick check of how he (she?) would be positioned with the other heads.   The two top heads are going to crowd the bottom three a little bit.  I want to minimize that as much as possible.  I’m also trying to stick to the size constraints I was given by the people at the restaurant.    And, the two top dragons must fit on either side of the two large horns of the Red dragon (it’s hard to see in this photo).  All part of the challenge of this project.

Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon - Blue ready

I started with the big horn.  I must say that I’m very pleased with my rendition of this horn.   I made all the other horns for this dragon similar to this big one.    Note that I also decided to pull a couple more teeth on the side of the jaw forward (outward).    I used a paper mache shell to start building up the head.

Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon - Blue horn and forehead

I made a brow and added the eyes.   I choose some yellowish eyes for the Blue dragon.  I think they will look nice with the blue color.

Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon - Blue eyes

When I looked at the wallpapers it was hard to tell what was happening at the sides of the head.   There were structures that almost looked like ears.  But there was no mention of ear-like structures in the literature (like there was for the Red dragon).     I just decided to use more horns to make these structures.   I made them similar in shape to the big horn on the nose.   I’m happy with this interpretation.

Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon - Blue big horn

I added many more horns to the chin, jowls, and the top of the head.   And I added some pointy things along the spine.  I also made some nostrils just in front of the big horn.   Overall, I think the face captures that squatty (not sure how else to say that) look I saw in the wallpapers.    So time for the cloth mache skin.

Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon - Blue horns

I added breast plates and lips.

Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon - Blue breast plates Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon - Blue lips

I filled in the nose, added eyelids and scales.  I made these scales somewhat like the White dragon’s scales, but smaller, more sleek, and pointy.

Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon - Blue cloth mache on face Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon - Blue scales

I wanted just a little more detail on the face.   So I put some small scales on the cheek bones, and added some of my spit wads.

Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon - Blue spit wad

So here is my version of the Blue dragon before paint.

Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon - Blue assembled3

Here he is with the other heads.   It looks less crowded in person.   Overall, I’m very happy with it.

 Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon - Blue assembled2

One last view.

Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon - Blue assembled

One more to go, the Green dragon.  I’ll be back soon with that.   Thanks for stopping by!

** Addendum!   Well, Amy just sent me a link to a book that shows more detail than the wallpapers I was using.  In fact, now that I saw this other book, it seems clear in the wallpapers as well that this Blue dragon is supposed to have ears.   Not horns.  So…. today I’ll be making some revisions to this dragon.  Off with the horns and on with some ears.  Of course I’ll share those changes later.





Posted in Tiamat Dragons | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 57 Comments