Paper Mache “Alduin”

Hello all.  I’m so sorry that it’s been so long since I’ve posted.   Too much to do, art related and life related.    And the latest project I just finished was a very labor intensive project, one that I wrestled with for weeks and months.   I’m happy with the result, but I know that it going to make true Skyrim players upset (I’ve already heard from a few).   Alduin is almost exclusively black and grey in the game.   Mine ended up with other colors.   If you haven’t seen the finished video on Youtube and just want to watch it and leave it at that, just click on the photo below.

paper mache alduin

For those interested, I can just relate how it ended up so different than just black and grey.  It’s pure artistic obsessive compulsion at work.   When thinking about the project I looked at numerous renditions online.  There were several that had a fire-like effect emanating from the body (and the mouth and nose and eyes).  I decided to go for that effect.  I experimented for weeks to get the lights between the scales to project outward.  At one point I even bought a hundred little reflectors for pen lights from China.  They didn’t work.   Even though I hated the idea of using it, for ecological reasons, I ended up adding silver glitter along with orange lights.  The glitter worked better than anything else I tried.   Then I tried adding some orange and yellow paint, and that made the lights stand out even more!  The bottom line is that I ended up far afield from the original design of Aldiun.  But by that point I was too far in to back out.   And so it ended up the way it did.   In hindsight, I should have named the piece “Started as Alduin”.  Having said all this, most of the time the project doesn’t have the lights on and it does look a lot more like the real Alduin with the lights off.    See below.  But you have to admit, it’s less exciting with the lights off.

paper mache dark alduin

I’ll try to post more regularly with whatever I decide to make next.  I have a few ideas.   Thanks for your patience.  Make some art!


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Paper Mache Dragon-like Cat- finished!

Hey everyone.  Well, it’s time to finish this series of posts.  I know that you know that the project is already finished.   So these posts needs to catch up.   If you don’t care about process, just hop to the bottom of the page and check out the video.  I provided a link to the Facebook upload and  another to Youtube (in case you hate Facebook with its evil, sneaky, non-private privacy policies).    I appreciate your patience.  I was busy finishing my latest dragons at the same time I was making this.

We left of with a masking tape face.   So I added the cloth mache to the rest of the project.

cloth mache face -small

Then I did the initial paint job.  I have to admit, I wanted it to be a little “Eddie-like” in the color scheme.

paper mache cat paint- small

As always, I “ruin” the paint job by blackwashing.

And then fixed it again with a lot of dry brushing.

paper mache cat touch up2- small paper mache cat -touch up -small

I added some detail painting on the nose, around the eyes and lips.   Usually I wait until the project is finished to scrape the eyes.  But I decided to do it a little early this time.

paper mache cat paint nose -small paper mache cat scrape eyes two-small

Mazzy was obsessed with this project, particularly the ears.  She kept chewing on them!   Abby did it too, but just once.  So strange.

mazzy and cat dragon -small

I added whiskers to fill out the thin face.   I hot glued clumps of bristles from cheap paint brushes on the jowls and to the ends of the ears and the tail.

paper mache cat whiskers -small

I like the little tuft on the tail.

paper mache cat tail -small

Finally I added some clear casting resin to the mouth just to make it shinier.

Had to get a shot of Abby with the project as well.   Otherwise she would be jealous of Mazzy.   Isn’t she cute (and hasn’t she grown?  They grow up so fast.  She’ll be ready for college soon.)?


I’m pleased with the finished face.   I have gotten quite a few comments about this project being “creepy”, even “uber creepy”.   I don’t see it.  But that’s okay.  I was going for wild because of the “feral” theme.  But creepy is okay.  Some people see all clowns as creepy too.   (Of course they ARE creepy)(then again, I thought Barney the dinosaur was creepy)

paper mache cat finished close up -small

And it’s very lanky, the dragon part.  Some people said that it didn’t look like a cat because of that.   All I can say is that it’s not actually a cat.   It’s a cat-like dragon or a dragon-like cat kind of thing.   And of course it is not actually real.  It is ART.

paper mache cat finished 2 -small

The video will give you a better idea of the project.

I’ll be back with something else soon.


Make art!

Video on Youtube

The video on Facebook.

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Paper Mache Dragon-like Cat – A Head!

Hey all.   Okay, so my timing isn’t perfect.  I certainly meant to finish all of these posts before I finished the video of this project.  But I was quickly approaching the deadline for shipping, and I promised the Kitty Bungalow that I would also make one of my time-lapse videos to help in promotion.  So I quickly finished the video before getting to more posts.  I’m sorry to anyone who is bothered by that.   So….you can pretend that the project isn’t finished and just read my posts as I get to them.  Or you can watch the video and be done with it.   Or some combination of the two.   However I’m not going to give you a link to the video until the end of these posts.  Because that’s where it’s supposed to be.

Anyway, I’ll finish the posts as quickly as I can. Only a couple more after this.  We left off with the project being headless.   A bad place to leave something.    As always, I built the head around the shell of a paper mache ball.     I cut one open and pulled out the wad of paper inside.   Then I bent the pieces into the shapes I wanted.   You can see that I went from a round ball, to a more cat-like set of jaws.

paper mache cat dragon -ball for jaw paper mache cat dragon -shells for jaws

Next I used hot glue to set the teeth.  The mouth will be mostly closed so I didn’t need many.  But I definitely wanted prominent fangs for this guy.

paper mache cat dragon -add teeth

As I’ve said a dillion times in my books and posts, I always paint the jaws first.  Much easier than trying to do so after it’s assembled.   I liken this to sealing the lumber of the deck you might be building BEFORE you build it.   No one wants to do it in that order.  It’s much more fun to just build and then worry about sealing later.  (For some people, that means never getting to the sealing which means you will be building the deck all over again in a few years.)   Trust me,  if you seal the boards first and then build with the sealed boards the deck will be much better protected and you will feel much more satisfied when it’s done.   The bonus is that it will also last years longer.    This is called delayed gratification, something not taught in America.   So….paint your jaws first!  (then build your deck)

paper mache cat dragon - paint jaw paper mache cat dragon -paint jaws

Note that I added a little tongue.  Best to also do that at this stage.  I don’t think it will show, but I added one just in case I change my mind and want his mouth to be open wider.

I taped the two halves of the jaws together (at the back) before adding it to the project.     Looked about right.

paper mache cat dragon -tape together jaws paper mache cat dragon -add head

I have to admit that I tried several times to get the forehead right.   I got frustrated and didn’t take any photos of the trials.  Sorry, it was all I could do to just keep from pulling the head off and squashing it with my foot.   Basically I put on several half shells for foreheads and took them off again.    I have to note something here.  This is the spot in this project where I knew that the head was going to look funny no matter what I did.    Remember how you looked as a baby?  Same thing here.   It’s hard to make artistic judgements about things several steps before everything starts looking right.    So, I  just slapped on a forehead and decided to move on fully expecting that I might tear the head off later if I didn’t like it.   Then I added the eyes.

paper mache cat dragon -adjust forehead paper mache cat dragon -add eyes alt

I also played around with a few noses.   This is the one I landed on.   Kind of square in the front like a cat’s nose.   As you can see, I use lots of masking tape.   Have I told you how much I love masking tape?  Yes, I know, many times.

paper mache cat dragon -consider nose paper mache cat dragon -add eyes

I also used small pieces of paper mache shell to fashion some ears.   Again, I used masking tape for sculpting these.    Except for the fangs it started to look cat-like.    I started adding some horns.   All cats have horns.  You just can’t see them unless you look real close.

paper mache cat dragon -add ears paper mache cat dragon -add one horn

So this is the basic shape of the dragon-like cat face.   I know that it looks sort of creepy to most of you.   I wanted the face to look cat like, but I also wanted it to be somewhat thin in keeping with the long, dragon-like body.   Plus, I knew that I would be adding some tufts of hair on the jowls and in the ears.   That will square up the face in the end and make it less gaunt.  You’ll see……soon.

paper mache cat dragon -add horns

Next, I’ll finish adding the cloth mache to the head and paint.   I’m also working on another dragon video featuring a couple of trophies I just finished.   So I’ll post as soon as I can.  Thanks for stopping by!

Keep making art.

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Paper Mache Dragon-like Cat. More assembly.

Hey all.   Sorry, it’s been a while since I posted.  I’ve been very busy.  I just finished a couple more dragon trophies.  I’m making one video showing them both.   Can’t seem to stay away from those.

I’ve also been working on this project.   It’s been very hard working without little Eddie underfoot.   But Mazzy has been filling in.   She’s always around to see what I’m doing.

little Mazzy helping me

I left off with the body finished.  Time to add some feet.  As you can tell from the title, this is a dragon-like cat, or a cat-like dragon.   Since I am making it for a non-profit that helps rescue feral cats (Kitty Bungalow :  Charm School for Wayward Cats,, I wanted something that characterized a wild cat.  In fact, I’m thinking the title should be “Feral.”  Anyway, I’m making cat-like feet.   I start by cutting pieces of wire clothes hanger.    I twist a small amount of paper round them and wrap with masking tape.   At the end I add crumpled balls of tape for the pads.

toes - paper twist

I tape each toe onto another crumpled piece of tape that is the body of the foot.

making the feet

Here are the two front feet.


I trim the wire coming out of the legs…

trim wire in the leg

…and push the stubs into the feet.   As I’ve said a dillion times before, having the wire inside the “ankles”, as well as inside the legs, allows me to bend these appendages any way I want and they will stay put.   I add little balls of tape to act as knuckles (or whatever you call above the joints).  I also slice the end of the toes to accommodate the claws.


I use hot glue to attach the claws.

add claws

I also add pads on the bottom of the feet.

add pads under feet

I added cloth mache to the feet after they were all added.   For some reason I forgot to take more photos after wrapping the claws (well, the reason is that I’m old, and I just got distracted).  Note that I also added a fifth toe like cats have on their front feet.

begin cloth mache on feet

I cut off the end of the neck in preparation for the head.    I’ll save that for the next post.

trying to get a head

Thanks for stopping by!  Make art!

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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!


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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.

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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!

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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.


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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

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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.


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