Cool. I am looking forward to watching your progress.
Cool. I am looking forward to watching your progress.
While waiting for the lower jaw to dry from its first layer of paper mache, I decided to try my hand at making some teeth. I used Model Magic because it's what I had handy, and I rather liked how it took shape! I did this almost 4 days ago now, so they're pretty solid, though a little soft if pressed enough. I think I'll mache them later on and leave outside in the sun so the moisture doesn't seep all the way back into the clay.
I did some cursory image searches for "dragon teeth" and decided that was really was no correct way to have them, so I just improvised....a common theme here. After I had them formed and laid out, I pulled them all off, wrote in a number on the bottom of each tooth, and strung them up to dry my in A/V closet - it gets toasty in there from all of the equipment.
Stacks of newspapers and coupon mailers in hand, I began to paper mache! I'm using the very simple recipe of white glue and water. No additives at this point. The plan is 2 layers of newspaper mache and then 2 layers of shop towel mache with wood glue, then a coating of asphalt sealer/filler (this will act as a black primer coat as well).
This first coat dried remarkably well - not rigidly solid but not flimsy, either! I think having a sturdy core/skeleton helped a lot here, too. I would work on one part of the head, move it to the other room to dry, then do the other part, then switch the next day and repeat. In this picture, the lower jaw has 3 layers and the top has 2 layers. No wood glue has been added to anything yet as I'm still sorta experimenting....but really I've just been lazy and haven't made the trek to the hardware store for the gallon size yet.
I still have to create a row of teeth for the bottom jaw and figure out how exactly I want the eyes to light up. The LED's I installed last week were taken out for the mache process, but I liked the beady red look. Might stay with that...but time will tell!
Sorry I've been so bad about updating this. Truthfully, progress has been sort of...boring. Just lots and lots and lots of applying shop towels with watered-down wood glue. I bought the Elmer's wood glue gallon on Amazon since it was cheap. Also had a bucket handy so I could pour about a 1/4 gallon of glue and barely even a cup full of water to loosen it up a bit. Wearing gloves, I would smear the glue along one of the inner walls of the bucket to create a bed of paste for the shop towel to stick to while I smeared more glue over the face of it. Then I peeled up the towel, laid it in place on the dragon head, and smoothed it into all the nooks and crannies. Rinse and repeat, so to speak...as of this moment, the entire top and bottom halves have 2 coats of traditional mache and 2 layers of shop towel/wood glue mache.
Needless to say, this was a messy process, so either do it where glue can splash freely or put down a tarp!! I've gotten glue on our TV, my stereo equipment, the carpet...and that was with a plastic drop cloth! Also, with glue-encrusted gloves being the main deterrent, I couldn't document much of my process. So, pics will come in delayed fashion. But, I have tackled a couple of other projects while waiting for things to dry ~
While hunting for ideas for eyes for the dragon, I decided to give Gourmet Paper Mache's method a shot with glass half-domes (cabochons, as I would soon learn they were called) and acrylic paint. Then Allen Hopps posted about an eye he created, and I followed the link to the tutorial he followed (which is here). The lady in that video used nail polish, as did Allen, which unfortunately would be too opaque to be lit from behind. So I skipped on the nail polish and went back to the acrylic paint method.
The eye is a 50mm or 2" glass cabochon. You can get these from Etsy, Amazon, eBay...anywhere, really. Prices vary, so just get whatever is most economic since you're going to be painting it (and dropping it...slippery bastards) anyway.
First I painted the pupil and the outer ring with Craftsmart Multi-Surface Black in a method similar to what Yvonne Williams in the video tutorial did. Then I tried just flicking black paint onto the glass to create the spotting. I will also say I played with 4 or 5 different colors before settling on white. I started with green, which was too dark, then yellow and orange, which I didn't like all that much either. I settled on white for 2 reasons - it looks great unlit, and I can choose to light it whatever color I want! More on that in another post, though...
The white of the eye is actually Craftsmart White Pearl paint mixed with a dab of Light Gray. I splotched it on the glass once all the black paint had dried, then dipped the brush in water and dragged it over the wet paint. The idea here was to color the whole eye without it being so solid that light wouldn't pass through.
These will look beautiful once lit from behind!
The other project I did, also along the lines of the great Gourmet Paper Mache, was the tongue. It's basically two long lengths of thick floral wire with newpaper and masking tape, followed by mache.
Only half-complete here with the mache:
I know the tongue is a little too serpentine with the split end, but I thought it was unique. It was always my intention to light the mouth with lights as well, but I wasn't too sure how I would do it, especially since the lower jaw is basically done with the mache procress. So I decided to retrofit the tongue to house the lights:
Those are several runs of 18AWG speaker wire that will connect to 12v LED's. The lights will face outwards into the jaw from underneath the tongue, providing a bit if illumination. I'm thinking of doing orange flicker LED's from Lighthouse LED's that just arrived today. Should blend nicely with the fog effect to simulate a bit of smoldering fire. I will mache over the wires once I have the lighting effect really nailed down. I can still rip out the hot glue holding down the wire if I need to make any adjustments.
I also started teeth for the lower jaw, and I will most likely have to redo the top jaw teeth - I don't see them fitting anymore after all of the shop towels that have been laid down, but time will tell on that one.
They're just Crayola Model Magic that will get paper mache'd over later on...or maybe just a really heavy coating of latex paint? I don't want them to have the slight soft and pliable consistency that they retain once dry. Need them to hold up for more than just a few nights of performances....
I am also going to do some clay mache to build up the areas around the horns, teeth, anything that protrudes or need additional detailing. Everything that is wet, which is mostly just the top half, should be rock hard real soon, then I'll follow up with a layer of asphalt filler/sealer as recommended by jwal - the twisted seed tutorial over on YouTube. Then paint after that!
I'm only a month into this build, but I'm really flippin' happy with the progress considering I only do 2-3 nights a week of work on it. I had basically no plan of attack going into it, and I'm learning HEAPS from the amazing Haunt communities about techniques, so thank you for chiming in and lending your wisdom, everyone!
Til next time <3
Decided to install the eyes last night!
Started by gluing each eye to a couple of pieces of thinner cardboard that would act as "wings" to fill in the empty sockets on the head. I reinforced the back with more cardboard, being careful not to let any obstruct the rear of the eye since it would be backlit.
2 small flat-top 12v LED's shine from behind the eye to illuminate it. I played with tons of different colors, but settled on red and yellow because it seemed the most intimidating. They blend nicely to create a nice pattern of color, especially with the paint job and Dimensional Magic coating on the back of each eye.
Sorta looks like a mini canoe!
The LEDs were just poked through another thin piece of cardboard and glued into place. All wire connections were heat-shrink wrapped together, and they connect via speaker wire that is run through some of the cardboard tubes in the head's skeleton from the first post. I have them running on a 9v battery right now, but they will eventually plug into a Picoboo once everything is final.
The areas around the eye will be filled in with clay or cloth mache most likely. Haven't decided if I'm going to go all out with cloth mache around the mouth, though I do have the materials on hand for it.
I also did some lighting work on the tongue. The are all orange flicker LEDs - the idea was to have it look like there's fire or embers smoldering in the dragon's mouth. I'm not sure what the final product will look like, but I like how this turned out.
I have to say that you're inability to find the dragon you were originally hoping to buy is creating a much more remarkable beast. It really is wonderful.
This is looking great... It's gonna be AWESOME!!!
WOW! The head looks awesome so far and those eyes are outstanding! Keep the updates coming.
Going back to post 13 where I started to play with making teeth, I ended up throwing most of those away, mostly because I was a fool in thinking that the shape of that upper jaw would stay intact once I started adding mache over it. It didn't, and none of the teeth fit after all the layers were done and dry. But that's ok! It's all part of the learning process...make mistakes! It's one of the only ways you learn.
So I started instead with the lower jaw. I had molded the teeth out of Model Magic again and stuck them right onto the final layer of shop towel mache. I let they dry for a few days, then did a layer of paper mache. Again, using the process laid out by Gourmet Paper Mache, I added small cloth strips that were dipped in white glue in between each tooth. I was immediately pleased with how much realism that added to the gum of the tooth, or at least happy that the illusion of a gum was present.
The bed of the mouth is a sheet of the same material that was dunked into a bucket of glue and laid down to create more depth and texture inside. I probably wouldn't do this again with a singular piece of cloth - it took forever to get laid out, it isn't drying very well and I think it would have been less of a headache if I had used smaller portions of fabric.
Here's the upper and lower halves of the head. This was the very first time I'd really gotten to see how the two pieces line up, more or less! I only really had room to work on one or the other, mainly because one half would be drying in one room while I added mache on the other in a different room. It isn't a perfect alignment, but I ain't complaining.
I needed to be able to see how the new upper row of teeth was going to line up with the lower. It was damn near impossible to add teeth from under the head, though, so I flipped it over and worked on it from the top.
I will let the new teeth dry out for a couple of days before I go in and mache around them. Then hopefully I can start sealing everything and painting!