Building the Dragon Part 5

It has been a very long time since my last post but since my last post, my Dragon is now FINISHED!! Her name is Ayra- a name suggested to me by a young talented artist Abira Harvey.

Meet Ayra the Dragon!

The scales on her neck , body and tail are done using Prairie Triangles and every single one of them is hand sewn onto her body. I had to custom make the fabric skin that is sewn onto her paper mâché body (under the scales). The trick with custom making the body skin is that you cover the body in a plastic shopping bag then wrap it with packing tape all over. You then cut the plastic off along the spine and belly and cut darts into the plastic to make a flat template. This is the link I used

Fitting the fabric “skin” around the Papier Mache body
Fitting the wing structure onto the body. The wings are made from lengths of wire covered in paper and hardened fabric.

The mechanisms in her head do everything I planned except I was not able to get her eyes to open wider. So her mouth opens and closes using a trigger on the handle and her eyes blink using a separate trigger on the side of the handle. Her handle was carved from Rosewood by the amazing puppet carver Wez Champion and the control rod is a length of PVC pipe that has been coated in a black rubber called plastidip. The legs are made using the techniques I linked to in the previous post.

Making the feet using telephone book paper and masking tape. The knuckles on the joints have not yet been added to the foot on the right

Front legs of the dragon showing how the legs were cut open to remove the plasticene. They have not yet had the fimo claws added to the toes. The pvc pipe is the bone of the leg to allow the movement mechanism so that her legs can ‘walk’.
The almost finished front leg- just needs the top section put back on and the scales added down the leg. You can see how the leg pivots through the pvc ‘bone’ and the black fimo claws.

Her neck works by attaching a slinky between the head and body. This not only allows for fantastic movement but the slinky also supports the fabric of the neck so that it does not collapse.

Attaching the Slinky to the body
Attaching the slinky to the head before I attached the neck fabric.

Because of the length of the control rod and handle, it was necessary to make a base for Ayra to sit on. I decided to make her a foam ‘rock’. The rock is made of 5 layers of 1 inch foam glued together then carved to make a rock texture. The whole rock was coated in multiple layers of pva glue and in some places tissue paper to give a smoother weathered look. The whole rock was then painted with acrylic paints and I used green flocking to simulate grass and moss.

Planning the layers of the rock using 1 inch upholstery foam.
Carving the foam to look like a ‘rock’.
Coating the rock in multiple layers of pva glue and tissue paper.
Painting the “rock” using acrylic paints.
Adding the green moss using Summer flowers flocking.
The top layer of ‘grass’ (green summer flowers flocking) to make the rock nice and comfy for Ayra

Overall Ayra has been a wonderful and sometimes frustrating learning experience. I have never built anything like her before but I really want to build more paper mâché puppets with or without mechanisms. She took 5 months to build but in that time, she has really extended my puppet making skills.

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