Dragon Armature Progress Report

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paper mache dragon
How the Dragon Looked When it Was Finished

The paper mache dragon is coming along, slowly. The armature itself is now almost done, and I’ve already learned a lot about things I wouldn’t do if I did another big creature. For instance, cheap duct tape doesn’t stick to itself very well, and a 5 1/2 foot long dragon is heavy, even without the paper mache that goes on next. I hope to have him covered with the paper mache clay soon, so I can paint him (and get him out of my dining room!)

See all of the posts for this paper mache clay dragon:

22 thoughts on “Dragon Armature Progress Report”

  1. Puts me in mind of the time I constructed a baby elephant (life sized) and don’t remember where he wound up. She was done using a chicken wire armature.

  2. WOW! I love large projects and this is definitely a big one. As always, your video answers questions I didn’t even know I had about armatures and sculpting.
    Thanks for posting your work.

  3. Jonni this is fantastic. I am so inspired and have so many ideas watching you. Just a comment about chicken wire. A long time ago when I was in high school I foolishly agreed to make a prop for the local ice skating show. It was a sitting stone library lion from The Wiz and it had to ‘burst’ open to release the Cowardly Lion. So this prop had to do several things. It had to be re-useable because there were several performances. It had to open from the inside and close so that the opening wasn’t apparent. It had to be big enough for a 16yr old on skates to stand up in. And it had to be light enough to be carried on and off the ice by two people. The solution? Chicken wire armature over a super lightweight wooden dowel frame covered by ordinary paper mache. It was great! I worked on it for three weekends, outside in the Canadian winter, using only chicken wire and paper to shape it. It ended up 6ft tall and 6ft long, met all the requirements and was tough as nails. Several rehearsals and three ‘bursting’ performances later it was retired with full honors. So for large projects, chicken wire can be very useful especially if weight is a concern.

  4. Jonni, I keep thinking about that dragon you are making. Can I ask you where his home will be when he is done? He looks so big for a house, but if you put him outside how will you deal with the weather? I think your weather is a lot like mine. Snow, ice, wind in winter and hot and humid in the summer. You might have to build a glass case for him!

    • Good question, Gussie. I don’t know where he’ll live when he’s done. I’m thinking about contacting the local high school to see if the art teacher or drama teacher could find a use for him. Still haven’t decided yet, though. His final skin goes on today, and I should have a new video up in a day or two.

      • But on the other hand— Jessie says I should put the dragon on my front porch, so people could see him through the windows. That does sound kind of fun. This is a college town, and the kids might get a kick out of it. Put a few led lights under it, to give it a glow…

  5. We are making a dragon for the high school after prom party. My husband is working on it now and hopes to have it done before Christmas. We need it to be triple the size of the one you are making so your tip on the chicken wire was great. Pleeeeez keep us posted and offer any suggestions. We’d be lost without you. Looking forward to the finished product. I’m sure he’ll be fantastic.
    Y. Bartlett

    • Yes, definitely make it hollow! I’m going to need help moving my dragon out of the house, it’s now so heavy – and it isn’t even done yet. Be sure to post photos of your dragon when it’s done. (Is the dragon related, in some way, with a Christmas celebration?)

  6. Your Dragon looks great. I was thinking of playing around with clay but only played last with it in high school and I am now 44 so yeah. ^.^ But your dragon looks wonderful. I have been only drawing things. I have not worked with paper mache yet. I can’t stop saying how much I love your dragon so far. ^.^

    • Thanks, Patty. He’s almost completely covered with paper mache clay now, and he’s looking much better without all that ragged duct tape showing. Are you thinking about making one?

      • Yes I am . You inspired me to work with paper mache. I did a zombie for Halloween. Everyone says it turned out ok and all but I guess being the one that made it felt it looks blah. lol I reall hope to see some pictures of the new work done to the dragon. ^.^ Can’t wait for that update!!

  7. Make sure you make its nostrils open and large enough to breath fire. Right now its head is too giraffe-like. Also you said “he”. Does he have any manly under parts?

  8. web site offers visual examples of using multiple layers of cardboard that are strong enough to make chairs, etc. Local companies that sell large appliances (refrigerators, etc.) usually have large cardboard boxes that can be cut and glued together for very strong structural elements (and are free). Fitting intersecting structural elements together can be accomplished using the same method that is used to make lightweight wood model airplanes. Using these methods will make a very strong supportive structure for sculpture, and is not excessively heavy. This technique will probably require an accurate template in order to cut out identical shapes to glue together, and lots of cutting with a sharp blade. Contact glue (spray or brushed type) is water resistant and very strong. Waxed stencil paper, which comes in large sheets works great as a template.

  9. Such a big job, but he is looking great. When I do big pieces, I use clear packing tape to wrap them, while padding out. its much cheaper here in Australia than masking tape, then I put a layer or 2 of just newspaper and flour. The Jonni clay sticks to that great. I use
    much thinner steel rods, down to less than a eighth inch, but its not re bar, very easy to bend and cut. I get it from the hardware store here, I am sure you should be able to get it there.

  10. Wow. Thank you for sharing. I’m sorry you’re not too enthused with the dragon, but I think he looks so awesome! I bet he is heavy and only will get heavier with all the paper mache clay. Can’t wait to see more.

    • I really like the dragon. my friend and I are making a Pegasus, and I was wondering if you had any advice about how we should go about doing that. thanks so much!!!!

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