Introduction: Pocket Dragon
Sometimes, you just need a friend who can be with you all the time. What better friend can you have than a dragon? What better place for that dragon than in your pocket?
I've been making projects out of telephone wire for almost 50 years, using methods I learned from the X-Acto Company's Suji Wire Art kits (marketed in 1955). (https://www.instructables.com/id/Wire-Skier-a-Suji... )
When I make wire dragons, I usually make ones that stretch between 1 and 2 feet long. For this challenge, I made a dragon that measures only 5 1/2 inches (14 cm) from tongue to tail tip.
Now, I know I've been doing this for longer than many of you have been alive, but Suji is a lot of fun, and you can make many different things, once you learn the basic techniques.
What Do You Need?
- Telephone Wire - The wire I use is plastic-covered, usually 22-or-24 gauge, legally-obtained.
- Scissors - Of course, wire -cutters are designed for cutting wire, but I'm cheap. Scissors work just fine.
- Patience - I can make a full-scale dragon in about an hour, but I've been doing this for ages. Take your time, and don't be afraid if it doesn't look exactly like the example.
Step 1: Armature, Framework, Core, Start. Whatever You Call It, It's a Beginning
I do the framework in three sections of folded wire. Each section of folded wire (first picture) is between four and 5 inches long.
- Front legs, body, hind legs - 8 lengths.
- Head, neck, body, tail - 6 lengths.
- Wings, body, (maybe) part of the tail - 8 lengths
Front legs, body, hind legs - It should resemble a lopsided U. The front legs will be about one inch, then a 90-degree angle, about 1 1/2 inches for the body, another 90 degree turn, and the hind legs will be about 2 1/2 inches. This dragon will have four toes on each foot. If it was an Asian dragon, four toes would mean it was Chinese. The Imperial Chinese dragons had five toes. The Japanese dragons had three toes. According to legend, as dragons left the Imperial Palace, they lost toes the further they traveled to the east. However, this dragon is based on the European dragon, like the one St. George is supposed to have fought.
Head, neck, body, tail - This section stays a straight line, for now. About 1 1/2 inches is tail, 1 1/2 inches for the body, and 2 inches is the neck and head.
Wings, body, (maybe) part of the tail - It should resemble the letter L, with 1 1/2 inches along the body, and 3 inches going up for the wings.
Step 2: Body & Neck
The first part of the dragon that is wrapped is the body. The piece of wire should be near four feet long. Start from the hind legs and wrap tightly toward the head. Each turn around the body should be right next to the one before it, so the core wires are covered and can't be seen. Do not overlap backwards - That makes it lumpy.
Wrap 20 turns for the body, wrap past the wing & foreleg joint, and keep wrapping out the neck 20 turns.
Step 3: Body and Tail
With another long piece of wire, start on the head side of the forelegs and wrap 4 or 5 turns winding the opposite direction from the way you wrapped the first layer. Cross in front of the wings and wrap 20 turns to the junction of the hind legs. You will now have less core wires as you start the tail. Wrap 8 turns and clip one of the folded core wires and unfold the fold to extend the tail. Another 8 turns, and another clip. continue that way until you only have two wires left.
Step 4: End of the Tail
Wrap another 8 times, and spread the two core wires. Do two or three sets of S-curves, wrapping around one core wire, then around the other. Bring the core wires back together. Wrap another, tighter S-curve, and wrap twice around the cores together. Trim the wrapping wire and one of the cores. Finally, trim the last core half-an-inch longer.
Step 5: Reach Out!
Clip each loop of the arm wires at the middle. Divide the arm wires into two bundles of four wires. Fold a one-foot-long wire in half. Hold it under the arm wires and start wrapping tightly out one arm 18 times. Take the other end of the wrapping wire and make 18 turns out the other arm. Bend and trim the core wires so they look like claws. Trim the wrapping wires.
Step 6: You've Got Legs! You've Got Thighs!
Divide the leg wires into two groups and clip them at the bend. Fold a two-foot-long wire in half, and hang it around the legs. Wrap one leg 24 times, then wrap the other leg 24 turns with the other half of the wrapping wire.
To make the dragon's legs seem more powerful, take a foot-long wire, fold it in half, and hang it on the other side of the legs. Wrap around the thick leg in the opposite direction of your first layer about 10 times. Take the other half of the wrapping wire and wrap around the other leg about 10 times to make the thighs. Trim off the wrapping wires. Bend the legs at the knee, and spread the core wires of each leg to make toes and trim to the desired length.
Step 7: The Jaw-Bone's Connected to The....
Clip the loops of the core wires to make 6 wires. Divide the cores into two groups of 2 and 4. the group of 2 will be the lower jaw. Take a two-foot wire and fold it at the 8-inch mark. the shorter end will wrap the jaw. Wrap the two core wires in an S-curve 8-10 times. Wrap once around one core wire to lock it in place. Trim the wrapping wire, bend the core wires up and trim them to make the lower teeth.
Step 8: Get A-Head
Spread out the four core wires like a sunburst. Take the long end of the wrapping wire and do two loose S-curves, crossing between the pairs of core wires. Next, weave in and out of the four core wires, building a curve as you go forward and back, two more times. Bend the four core wires forward, away from the neck. Weave forward, trying to keep a curve to the skull. after 4 forward-and-back weaving rows, press the two center cores together and continue weaving, narrowing as you create the snout. The upper jaw should be 2 or 3 rows longer than the lower jaw. Wrap one last turn over a core wire, and trim the weaver. Separate the center core wires, and wrap each one over the nearest outside core wire 2 or 3 times. cut the wrapping wires, and trim the remaining cores to the length of dangerous fangs.
Step 9: Wing It!
Clip the wire loops and divide them into two bunches of 4 core wires. Fold a 3-to-4-foot wire in half.
For the first wing, choose a half and wrap 4 times away from the body. Bend down one of the core wires, and continue wrapping 8 times up the remaining cores. Bend down another core, and wrap up 8 times. Bend another core, and wrap 8 turns up the remaining core.
Bend that last core wire, and begin weaving in and out of the core wires, then weave back up. When you get back to the top core, wrap one turn around it, and weave down and up again. Each time you reach the top core, wrap one turn. This gives a curve and angle to the wing. When you reach the end of the weaving wire, make one last turn to lock it in place. Trim it. Go to the bottom core and begin weaving with it, making that extra turn around the top core wire each time you reach it, and lock it off when you run out. Follow that pattern with the next core wire, weaving, wrapping, and locking. The last core wire below the top one wraps around the top core 4 times, and is trimmed. Trim the top core about an inch beyond the wrapping (or less, if you like.).
NOW, follow the same instructions to make the OTHER wing!
Step 10: Eyes and Tongue
The eyes and tongue are made from one piece of wire about 6 inches long (I use red, most of the time). Fold the wire in half, spread the jaw and head wide to give access to the inside of the head, Run the ends of the wire up through the spaces between the outer and inner ribs of the head, then poke them in between the inner ribs of the head, one or two weaves closer to the snout to make dangerous-looking eyes.
Now you have two red wires sticking out between the head and the jaw. Begin twisting the wires together tightly to make a tongue, until the twisted part goes past the snout and fangs. Trim it to give an impressive forked tongue.
Step 11: Hook 'Em, Horns!
Take two 4-inch wires of a color in contrast to the main color of the dragon (I usually use black, white, or yellow). Run one wire into and out of the head across the area where you switched from weaving in a curve to weaving toward the snout. Run the other wire in the same direction, but one weave closer to the snout.
Even up the wires, and wrap one wire of each pair around its partner 5 times. Clip the wrapping wires and trim the core wires to your desired length.
Step 12: That's My Dragon!
Look at that! You just made a dragon!
Now you can bend and pose it any way you please, but you know where a pocket dragon belongs, don't you?
Step 13: One in the Pocket
Of course! In a pocket!
Don't be afraid to try this. Once you get the hang of it, it's relaxing, makes a great gift, and helps time pass if you're in a doctor's waiting room with a pile of old magazines.
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