Bowling Pin Dragon – Guest Post

bowling pin baby dragon This weekend Mary Arvelo sent me photos of her baby dragon, and the story behind it is almost as interesting as the dragon she made. It goes to show you that sometimes having to work with unusual requirements can really get the creative juices flowing. I asked her if I could post her email to me, and she very graciously agreed. Now if you happen to have a spare bowling pin lying around the house, you’ll know what to do with it. 🙂

©2014 Mary Arvelo

Jonni, I would like to tell you the story how all your advice helped me to raise money for the charity Big Brothers and Big Sisters. They hold an annual fund raiser called “Pin and Ink” where people take a bowling pin and make something out of it.  The art work is then put in a silent auction and the money raised helps out this wonderful charity.

Now I have to tell you that I have not worked in paper mache before (well, except maybe in grade school when we made maracas out of light bulbs!), but I have worked with polymer clay over the last couple of years.    When a friend of mine challenged me to make something for this fund raiser, I had no idea how I was going to go about it.  I didn’t trust baking the plastic coating on the bowling pin, and I have had very little success in coating wood with polymer clay, so I went searching online on what other options I could try.  That’s when I came across your site.

In a matter of days, I watched about every video, soaked up all I could about your methods and recipes, and even bought your animal sculpture book.  You have a great way of encouraging everyone to try even when it can seem a daunting task.  So I dug in and gave it a try.

I’m including pictures of the baby dragon I created that I titled “Baby Guardian.”  The crystal he is guarding (as all dragons guard their treasure 🙂 ), is actually a salt crystal that when lit (and changes into different colors) ionizes the air.  The foliage around him is from plastic plants bought at a craft store and the base is a cereal box covered in polymer clay.

Making the head with shop towel mache
Making the head with shop towel mache

The head of the dragon I made from oil based chavant clay and covered in paper mache with shop towels.

Baby Dragon covered with paper mache and home-made gesso
Baby Dragon covered with paper mache and home-made gesso

The wings were made from wire covered in tape then taped on folded paper.  The horns, spines and ears are made from paper also.  He was covered with paper mache clay, gesso (your recipe), painted with acrylic paint and sealed with Minwax Polycrylic.

I’m happy to say Baby Guardian went for the second highest amount in the show that had over 200 pieces of art!  It’s a great feeling knowing I was helping out, and I just had to write and thank you for all you do and for being such a tremendous help 🙂

Mary Arvelo

Baby Dragon
Baby Dragon Made with Paper Mache over a Bowling Pin, front view
Baby Dragon, from the top
Baby Dragon, from the top

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Thanks, Mary! And congratulations on getting that great bid on your dragon. I know the Big Brothers and Big Sisters appreciate the time you spent on this project, and the money will surely go to a good cause.


6 thoughts on “Bowling Pin Dragon – Guest Post”

  1. Thanks everyone for the great compliments – really made my day 🙂 Susan, you are so right about being inspired by Jonni’s work and others I’ve seen on here. Really gets your creative juices flowing!

  2. Hi Mary, challenges are really the motivator to get things done and you scored big on the creative side of the challenge. This baby dragon is a beauty and you did a phenomenal job on him. I am glad that you got a good bid on him, I am sure that dragon was worth every penny and for a very good cause too.

  3. He sure is a cute little fella, though he looks like he takes his guardian job quite seriously. His new family had better be careful until he’s sure they aren’t after his treasure!
    He belongs in a storybook!

  4. Jonni and Mary, what a wonderful Dragon! I love how you took the challenge and turned it into something not just useful, but adorable. Congratulations at a successful auction as well, I love that organization and have gone bowling a few times in support of the Boys and Girls Club org. Now you too, will probably notice how many different creatures you can make, inspired by Jonni and the other crafters and artists who post here! Do more, you have a knack.

  5. The baby dragon is so cute. What a marvelous job she did. I have made a few out of polymer clay as gifts. I love dragons.

  6. Wow! Mary, that’s awesome, how amazingly creative of you! Your baby dragon is adorable; I love the functionality of the piece as well. No surprise it brought in the second highest bid at the auction. Job well done!


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