Good grief! This project was so therapeutic and a bit overwhelming towards the end. I've never made anything this large but I was determined that I wanted to make a dragon for Halloween. It took me four months but honestly I finished it in two straight months. Life happens so I was a little slow. When I say this is an overwhelming project , I mean that whatever space you have will be taken up by this project. I don't know about you but I'm a messy artist. And once you give life to it, you're addicted to seeing what the end result is.
My dragon resided in my dining room for four months. Which is fine by me, we only use the that room for holidays. My dragons name is Anubis and he is 6 to 10 feet head to tip of his curled tail.
For my first Paper mache sculpture (not counting piñatas) I'm pretty proud of it.
Hope this helps and inspire you to make some awesome Paper art.
So let's get to it .
Step 1: Base and Sculpting
Model the base
I apologize that I don't have a photo of the chicken wire frame of the dragon. Someone stole my tablet. Grrr. But these images show that I've wrapped the entire thing in newspaper and tape. I even used aluminum foil too along with some light gauge wire to make the whiskers and horns. Once it's wrapped up in newspaper and tape you want to use Paper clay. I was to lazy to make my own so I brought Celluclay. I used about 4 bags for entire project. The entire project cost about $100 . If you have a spare blender, some water and glue you can totally do this project for way less by making your own.
Before you start grab a fan to dry it quicker. Just leave it on the entire time. Just not when you're pouring celluclay into a bowl. Super dusty. I wore a mask when I mixed it. I started building the face . Building layer after layer. Don't make your clay to watery, it will not be easy to mold. You want it at clay consistency. Be patient let layers dry in between building more. Don't glob it down. That will take forever to dry. To smooth the clay just wet your hands or a brush to smooth it out.
Step 2: Oh Crap! It's Just Paper.
One of my bags of celluclay was gray. I freaked out because I wanted an even color base for when I start to paint. Luckily it dried way lighter. I bought some plaster wrap to cover the whiskers. It was so much easier to smooth out. I found a little clay in my basement and used a few coils to make his nostrils and to shape part of his butt. I used cardboard to make his spikes and hot glued it to his face. I poked two holes in his back , it's just paper. Then I used wire cutters and cut two wire hangers and attached it to his base. I reinforced it with floral wire to make sure it stayed in place. I plugged up the holes with more Paper mache clay.
For his tail I used a pool noodle which I slit down the middle to fit over the chicken wire base. Then I wrapped tightly some tape at the tip of his tail.
I waited a few days for the dragon to be completely dry before I moved on.
Step 3: Dragon Glass Eyes
This is easier than it looks. I had a few glass pebbles, the bigger ones from the dollar store. I also grabbed some yellow, green, black and green nail polish from the dollar store too.I used nail polish because it comes in a million colors and is way cheaper than glass paint.
What you want to do is on the flat side of the glass pebble you want to paint backwards, using the nail polish.
I used the black nail polish to make the iris and detail. To get that detail, use a pointy tool , I used my exacto knife to spread it out. The same with each layer after. Your base color should go on last. Mine was yellow.
It took me a couple of times before I had the perfect eye. Once it was dry I hot glued it to my dragon and built around it.
Step 4: Finally , Let There Be Paint!
So this part was fun but some folks get pretty cranky that thier project is not super smooth. Hello it's Paper! But if you smoothed your clay and once it's painted it looks like real dragon skin. Some folks might add a plaster compound to get it super smooth. I didn't care because Halloween was 2 days away. So first, if you want to place your baby dragon outside you want to use spar urethane all weather proof. Not waterproof but weather proof .If you're going to put your new baby outside you're going to want to may sure it doesn't melt or fade or get wet. After all Paper mache is glue and water. So paint a few thin layers, please use a gloves and a mask and work in an open area, where there's enough circulation. Don't want to kill any creative brain cells. Once that's dry I sponge painted at least 3 layers of acrylic paint to it. Took a entire whole day to add the base coat. I then painted scales . But the lazy way. I used a circular sponge brush , added three different colors at the same time and splattered it to shape. I then took gold dimensional paint and outlined most of them and voila! Done.
Now the wings.
Unfortunately I was out of time and had a few hours before trick o treaters came knocking at my door so I kind of skimped on the wings. I cut a plastic green tablecloth from the dollar store , spray glued the one side of it and affixed it to my wire hanger frames. I taped the edge of the wings to shape it. I grabbed some brown and black acrylic paint and dry brushed the plastic so it matched more with the baby dragon. Next time I'll start earlier and correctly shape the wings.
Step 5: Hurray!
All done. My dining room doesn't look like a war zone anymore. Now I didn't realize this baby was going to be this big when I first started so I made him too big to fit in the basement so Anubis lives in my living room. I will redo the wings...maybe.
So proud of how he came out. Everyone took selfies with him parents and kids. Next Halloween I'm going to make a demagorgan from stranger things to accompany him .
Hope this inspires you to make something great! And send me photos. @ im_rainbow_panda on instagram!