Well I finally finished this dragon, except for making him a base. A lot of blood sweat, and tears went into this project (literally)! The next thing I needed to do was to give him some color so I painted all the lighter parts and added his horns. The horns were made with Super Sculpey clay and for most of everything I make with clay, it is supported underneath with wire (except for the claws which I came to regret several times while working on him).
Leo is now painted with a black wash over the lighter paint and detailed out with highlights on face and feet. Most of this I did by just using my finger to spread the lighter paint over the wash. Finished painting toenails and horns. I wanted him to be holding something in his hand so I had bought a crystal at the craft store.
The original crystal had a hole in it so it could be hung so I used wire through the hole and his hand to attach it more securely. I also used a small dab of E6000 glue for extra hold.
The next step was to cover the area where the wire came though his hand. I twisted the wire off, clipped the wire ends and pushed them back through the holes. New cold clay texture was added to hide the holes and wire.
While I was waiting for the clay to dry on the hand, I worked on making the “ears”. These were made from wire covered with masking tape and painted. Because my projects are small, I lay the wire on a piece of masking tape and cover it with another piece of tape. Press the two pieces together and cut around the wire with small scissors. This is where cuticle scissors come in handy.
I found that working with sheer fabrics is not as easy as using sheet cloth when covering these wire forms. The fabric does not want to hold glue the way cotton sheet fabric does. I found it much easier to run a line of white glue along the wire frame and gently lay a piece of dry sheer fabric on top. You need to press lightly on the wire frame to make sure the glue is making contact with the fabric. Then WALK AWAY and let it dry! After the glue dries, repeat with another piece of fabric for the other side. Once both sides are dry, I take a paintbrush and paint white glue on the rest of the fabric. I found this worked okay for smaller pieces, but didn’t work as well once I got to the wings.
For this particular dragon, I wanted to create a spiked frill that went the entire length of the dragon. the first thing I did was decide how far apart I wanted the spikes to be. One-half inch between each spike seemed about right so I set off to measure, poke, stab, and drill (manually) every little (freakin) hole from the top of his head to the tip of his tail. Once I did that I think I came out with about 54 holes! The next task was making 54 spikes of different sizes. I made the spikes by wrapping wire with masking tape and then bending a small curve into them. Once they were the right shape, I did the same as the “ears” by covering each wire spike with masking tape and cutting along the curves. I measured one-half inch along a strip of tape and placed the spikes how I wanted them to go. I also made the wire form for an extension on his tail. They were then painted black. The third picture is all of the completed length of the frill.
After a little trimming and repainting black over each spike, I had a completed spiked frill! Now all I had to do was plug and glue each spike into a corresponding hole on the dragon and presto, a beautiful frill! Looks good, huh! Little did I take into account that my one-half inch measurements might not be exactly right.
Well, at least it wasn’t back to the drawing board because this was actually fixable. I glued in as many spikes that would fit and then had to re-drill new holes <sigh> to accommodate the rest of the frill. As I needed to twist and turn the dragon to glue each of the spikes, I would occasionally stab myself with one of the spikes. A few days before I had jammed an X-acto knife into my thumb. Unfortunately when I got to the end of his tail, I was three spikes short! Arrrgggg! I made three more spikes, covered them, and inconspicuously added them to the end of the frill. Believe me there was definitely blood, sweat, and tears through this part of the construction!
With all of that finally completed, I could now move onto building the wings (thank God I didn’t poke my eye out during this process)! If you look closely, you can see the wire shaped to size and way that I wanted them to be.
Once I got the size I wanted, I cut the wire to form the ribs of the wings. I covered them with tape using the same process as before, but I decided that I wanted stronger looking “arms”. I went back to the method I used to create the scales and breastplate of the dragon. Paper was rolled around the bottom length of the wire, cloth mâché added, then scales.
This is what the wing frame looked like painted before cloth. Now I would have had pictures of the sheer fabric over the wings, only I absentmindedly erased them from my camera before I transferred them to my computer! D’oh!
Anyway, I found it a little easier to take the fabric and stiffen it somewhat and let it dry before placing it onto the wire wings. This can either be done by using a fabric stiffener (can buy at a craft store) or just water down the white glue. It can be applied with a brush or a spray bottle. Make sure you have something like wax paper under it and pull it off the paper before it is completely dry. Once it is dry, I did the same as for the other pieces, making sure the fabric was glued securely where I was going to cut my curves.
Here is a close-up picture of Leo’s head with his “ears” and tongue attached. One of my sons (who is also an artist) felt that Leo needed more jewels in his hand so I found some old costume jewelry and draped it over the crystal.
Here are some shots of the completed Leopard Dragon: