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.

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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!



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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!!

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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!

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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!

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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.





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Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon – White dragon assembly

Hi again.  Time to assemble the White Tiamat dragon head.   In my mind the white dragon should be more symmetrical, and maybe a bit prettier.  Still fierce, but beautiful.   Once again I started by adding the jaws to the neck.

Paper Mache Tiamat dragon -white

As always, I use the shells from paper mache balls to build up the top of the head.

Paper Mache Tiamat dragon -white build face

Using more paper mache shells, wadded paper, and masking tape, I added some nostrils, eye sockets and brows, and jowls.  Have I told you how much I love masking tape?  Yes, I know I have, many times.   I don’t care.  I love masking tape.  As I said in my Papier Mache Monster book, I’d marry masking tape if it was human, and I wasn’t already married.   I tend to overuse masking tape.   Then again, isn’t that what you do with things you love?

Paper Mache Tiamat dragon -white sculpt face

I added some horns along the brows.   Then I added some cloth mache eyelids.  I also added the cloth to other parts of the face.

Paper Mache Tiamat dragon -white eyes

It’s time to take a look again at the official Dungeons and Dragons wallpaper.  There is variation in the different paintings, but in most of them the White dragon has this long thingy at the back of the head.  I know “thingy” isn’t the right word.  But I don’t know what else to call it.    It’s long and, in the wallpaper on the right, it has something akin to rings.   It definitely is not a horn.   Also note that, overall, the White dragon has fewer horns that the rest of the heads.  And, as I mentioned earlier, it is more symmetric.

Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon - wallpaper white Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon - Wallpaper2

So I added the long thingy.

Paper Mache Tiamat dragon -white dragon neck

Then, using my cloth mache I added the rings and some texture.

Paper Mache Tiamat dragon -white new neck thing

Then I added scales on the neck.   For this I consulted the written description of the White dragon.   “The scales and limbs are heavy, making them seem ponderous.”  So I made them heavy and ponderous, although I’m not exactly sure what it means to have ponderous scales.

Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon - White Dragon Scales

I added spit wads along the ridge down the center of the head…

Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon - White Dragon spit wads

…and in various places on the rest of the face.

Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon - White finished side

So here is the White dragon sans paint.     It looks kind of goofy with the dark color of the spit wads.  Those of course will be minimized when the paint is added.

Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon - White sculpted front

So here is the bottom row of the Taimat before painting.  Left to right, the Black dragon, the Red dragon, and the White dragon.

Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon - white sculpted

In case you haven’t been following, this Tiamat dragon is a commission for the Chromatic Dragon restaurant in Savannah, Georgia.

Thanks for following!  See you for the Blue dragon next.



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Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon – Black dragon assembly

Hi everyone.   More about my commission for the Chromatic Dragon restaurant.   This time I’ll show you the assembly of the Black dragon.   This is my favorite head, first because of the cool, long horns.  Also, it is described as being the most gaunt, almost skull-like.  I like that idea a lot.

First I attached the paper mache jaws to the neck.   Then I added the all important main horns.  I’m very pleased with the way these turned out.   Then I started building up the forehead.   I just used the paper mache shell of a large ball for this.   I’ll say this many times, all of this is subject to change.  You can sit and stare at a project for a long time wondering how it should look.  I’ve found that I just need to start, and then make changes as I see fit.   This forehead is a little too big.  I’ll trim it later.

Paper Mache Tiamat dragon - black dragon add jaws Paper Mache Tiamat dragon - black dragon build forehead

In fact, if you look carefully, you can see that I did just that.  I sliced off a layer of the paper mache shell and taped it together.   Then I pushed in the sides of that shell to form the eye sockets.  I added another paper mache shell for a rudimentary nose.

Paper Mache Tiamat dragon - black dragon forehead

I added many more horns to the face.  I added several to the chin and jowls.

Paper Mache Tiamat dragon -black dragon chin Paper Mache Tiamat dragon -black dragon under chin and jowls

Here is a little better photo of those horns along the chin and jaw.   Then I added the breastplates.  It’s hard to see the pattern.    I matched the breastplates that were used in the official Dungeons and Dragons wallpaper I mentioned earlier.  You will notice a “W” sort of shape when it’s painted.

Paper Mache Tiamat dragon - black dragon horns on chin and jowls Paper Mache Tiamat dragon -black dragon breast plates

Speaking of the wallpaper….it showed the black dragon with a webbed spine.  So I added that to the neck and forehead.   You can see the spines I used here.   This is how it looked after I trimmed the cloth.

Paper Mache Tiamat dragon -black dragon spine Paper Mache Tiamat dragon -black spine

After I did that I decided that they went too far down the forehead.  So I cut several of the spines off and added some more horns.   Much better.

Paper Mache Tiamat dragon - black dragon forhead spikes

I used the cloth mache to add eyelids, and I fashioned a nose.

Paper Mache Tiamat dragon -black cloth mache eyes Paper Mache Tiamat dragon -black new nose

Finally I added some detail to the neck.   I didn’t want conventional scales for this guy.  So I used my “spit wad” technique (spit wads made with toilet paper, white glue, with some commercial Celluclay).

Paper Mache Tiamat dragon -black scales

So here he is in his glory.   I really look forward to painting this guy.

Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon - Black dragon assembled 2

Here is Black Dragon with his Red head counterpart.

Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon - Black dragon assembled

Next post will be the White dragon.   Thank you for stopping by!





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Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon – Red Dragon assembly

Hi all.  Back to the Tiamat hydra for the Chromatic Dragon restaurant.   I’ve established the relative positions of all the heads.   I know what I want as far as the look and attitude of each dragon head.  So now it’s time to build each head.    I left off on the last post with the beginning of the red dragon.  I’d added the all important long horns.   I’ll pick up from there.

As you can see, I used paper mache shells to build up the face.  Here I’m adding some jowls.  I’ve already added some brows, a cheekbones, and put in the eyes.

Paper Mache Tiamat dragon -red add jowls

The red dragon is characterized as very aggressive.   The Dungeons and Dragons literature describes, “Two of the frills on the sides of a red dragon’s head aid in its hearing ability.”  It goes on the say that they are not actually ears.  They just assist the inner ear of the dragon.   Fair enough.  I added the structure for these frills.

Paper Mache Tiamat dragon -red ear structure

I draped these with cloth.   When dry I trimmed them them the way I wanted.

Paper Mache Tiamat dragon -red ear webbing

I built the nose using more paper mache shells.

Paper Mache Tiamat dragon -red nose

I added the cloth mache to this.

Paper Mache Tiamat dragon -red dragon nose Paper mache tiamat dragon -nose

Then I started adding horns.  Lots of horns.  All over the head horns.  Horns for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.    I added cloth mache around them.  I also added lips and a few other details.

Paper Mache Tiamat dragon -red horns on face

I also added the breast plates using my cloth mache.

Paper Mache Tiamat dragon -red breast plates

Then I added eyelids.

Paper Mache Tiamat dragon -white dragon eyes

After that I added the scales, up the neck, and onto the top of the head and the nose.

Paper Mache Tiamat dragon -red scales

Here he is from the side, ready for paint.  That will come after I build the other four heads.

Paper Mache Tiamat dragon -red done1

Here he is from the front.

Paper Mache Tiamat dragon -red head on

I’ll show you another head in the next post.  Thanks for stopping by!



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Paper Mache Tiamat Dragon – First assembly

Hi all.   The fun begins when the paper mache pieces are ready for assembly.   I want to emphasize here that, at all stages, everything is subject to change.  That is what I mean when I say that paper mache is “forgiving.”  I am not afraid to completely revamp anything I don’t like.

First, I really want these heads to be stable against the wall (actually it will be a large plaque I made out of walnut wood….more about that later) so I cut pieces of  1 inch pine boards to fit the back of the necks.  I used screws to hold the necks to the boards (and yes, screws into the paper mache works well).  I also drilled holes at an angle in the wood backings.   That allows me to hang the trophies on the wall over a long screw driven into the wall at about the same angle (as what I drilled in the pine backing).  I hope this makes sense.   It sounds a little convoluted.

paper mache Tiamat - attach backing

Then it was time to start putting the heads where I want them relative to each other on the wall.   So I drove screws into the wall and hung the necks.

paper mache Tiamat - attach necks to wall

Below is the bottom row of necks in roughly the positions I wanted.   Now I know some of you have eagle eyes and you will notice the neck on the left, the one with the piece of wood sticking out.  This is the neck of the black dragon, the one with the long, curved steer-like horns.   Because of the torque involved with those long horns  wanted to be sure there was sufficient support to hold them up.  So I added pieces of pine inside the neck (from the pine backing to the place where the horns will be) for additional support.  And yes, you see a few pieces of clothes hanger sticking out of the necks as well.  I buried those inside the necks for extra support.


paper mache Tiamat- first three heads

One by one I started adding the jaws, upper and lower, to the ends of the necks.   This is the  red dragon with jaws attached.    Note that I added the tongue as well.  That is connected to the back of the lower jaw.

paper mache Tiamat- attach jaws

Next, the upper jaw of the black dragon.  I know it doesn’t sound right when I say “upper jaw.”  It’s really the rudimentary upper part of the head.

paper mache Tiamat- more attach jaws

I added the other two necks to the array on the wall, as well as the rest of the jaws.  This is pretty close to the layout I want.   Pretty close.  Again, I will change it up slightly as I move along.  But this gives you a sense about how the heads will look together.

paper mache Tiamat -all jaws attached

Just a different angle.

paper mache Tiamat -more jaws added

Once I established the overall look, it was time to start building each individual head.    I started with the red dragon.   Here is the very beginning of that dragon, with the two long horns installed.

paper mache Tiamat- start sculpting

Next time …more sculpting of each head.  Thanks for stopping by!



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