I decided to try some new methods with this dragon. Instead of doing flour and water paper mâché balls to form the dragon, I wanted to make a basic body shape cut from foam core. I built up the figure with wads of paper or foil to get my desired shape and then used two different types of paper clay to fill out the features. Here are the beginnings of the arms and legs showing the process of adding the rough paper clay. Clay needed to be added a little at a time and allowed to dry otherwise the clay would fall off.
Claws were made from air dry clay and later painted with white glue to keep them from breaking. I previously had a lot of broken claws when I did not use this method. It seems to work really well to fortify the clay.
I could continue to add the rough paper mâché clay as I went until I decided there was enough.
After I shaped the head with the paper clay, I cut a piece of fabric for the upper roof of the mouth. A small ball, made from flour and water paper mâché, was used to form the bottom jaw which was also given a layer of cloth for the inside. I created the teeth out of air dry clay because it was readily available and I had not made a batch of the smoother clay yet. The teeth were formed over a piece of wire so I could insert them into the mouth. White glue was then painted around them to make them stronger and blend in with the gums.
Once the body was filled out, I was able to attach the lower legs.
It was time to add his lower jaw with tongue already attached and form his eyes, nose and lips. Small pieces of cloth were used for his eyelids. I felt I would have more control using fabric than the paper clay. Paper clay was used to cover edges of the fabric eyelids. I had finally made a batch of smooth paper clay and tried it out on the tongue. This clay was kind of sticky and was like working with bread dough so it took some getting used to. I formed the tongue first with masking tape over a wire and then coverd it with the smooth paper clay. The inside of the mouth, teeth, and tongue were glazed with clear enamel nail polish.
Now that I had the smoother paper clay, I wanted to do something different with his breast plates. I really like the way it came out, but this clay really takes some getting used to. I wanted this piece to be have more paper clay used than some of my other projects, plus I like trying other methods to get different results.
I needed to start on the scales so I could work my way up to adding his arms. I was hoping to shape scales out of the smooth clay, but it was just too soft and doughy. I went back to my original plan of cutting individual scales out of corduroy.
Smaller sized scales were needed to start with so I cut out several rounds of those for the tail, arms and legs. The above piece of fabric was pre-treated with white glue. When I was attaching each scale, though, I was having a hard time trying to tell the difference between the smooth side of the fabric and the side with the nap that I wanted to show. It became evident that I was going to have to stiffen the fabric with something else. I needed to do this in order to keep the fabric from fraying. The white primer that I use before painting would work. For these set of scales, I sized up the pattern template.I started adding pieces around the legs, arms, and tip of the tail.I wasn’t sure how many scales I would need to add to the arms, as was I going to have to blend them into the body scales eventually. The arms needed to be practically finished before I could add them to the dragon’s body so I began to primer them.
I began working my way up the dragon’s body constantly testing with the arms where they should be placed. When I got far enough, he needed to be primed and painted so I could attach the arms.
All the scales were put on using hot glue. Whenever I have used this method, it is always fun to try and remove all the glue strings from the fabric. For this I used an old toothbrush and some tweezers.
Next post: Painting the dragon.