Sunday, August 18, 2013

How to make a Paper Mache Dragon (Part 1)...

Well, you start with a few quiet minutes to yourself...
*maybe with a nice cup of tea, in your favourite mug, alongside your work area

* some mental inspiration; doodles, drawings, stories, other art

* even a snack, if you're really stuck for artistic inspiration (if you don't know where/how to start apparently chocolate works wonders for inspiration - at least if you ever had the chance to ask my late aunt Ruby; the first and only paper mache dragon she made was created in the wee hours of the morning along with nibbles of inspirational chocolate!) Not healthy you say...well, here's some homemade crepes with fruit, still a bit indulgent, yes, but they do look inspirational - don't they?

* your favourite tools

*including your hands! (Take care of them! Moisturize between paper mache sessions; working with paper and glue can be very drying to the skin of your palms.)

* and fun materials (I sometimes find embellishments like pretty ribbon, lovely textured paper, shiny bits and baubles, etc. are inspirational in themselves.)

*plus, just a little bit of pixie dust!

(All of my pixie dragons involve some bling at some point - what would a pixie dragon be without a little touch of sparkle!?)

Seriously though, because I am often asked how I make my dragons, I've finally decided to start photo documenting the process of bringing one of my pixie dragons to life. Now this may not be the most logical order but I'm going to start with the feet. Yep, dragon feet can be quite tricky and tedious - so let's get the hard part out of the way at first!

*All you need for this part of dragon making is some wire and needle-nose pliers (use heavier gauge wire than pictured below if you have a large dragon in mind; all my pixie dragons are 10 inches or less!)

Cut lengths of wire.

And bend them in half.
--always cut the wire a bit longer than you think you will need--
(you will need the extra for legs, and you can always trim it back if too long)

Pinch the wire together at the bend and gently twist a couple times.

You've now created a single dragon digit!

Continue making dragon toes (reference bird's feet or dragon illustrations for more visuals).

Don't forget to twist your excess wire into dragon legs that will attach to the body! (In a later post.)
Now, continue this for each foot - will you make 2 feet, or 4 feet? Depends on what species of dragon you plan to create! As you may already know, Wyverns have only two legs:

Happy Dragon-making :)
 Check back for future dragon "how to's"!

Edited: October 28, 2015 - Since this blog post has been become crazy popular (thanks to Pinterest!!) I thought I'd post a link to my board on Pinterest that has more pics of behind the scenes of dragon-making! Tea time with a Dragon: dragon-making how-to's by Lilac Grove. Also, you might be interested in the additional blog post: How to make a dragon, Part 2b.

August 3, 2016 - Because this post is getting so much traffic, I thought I would also post a behind-the-scenes video of me - it is a bit like hanging out in my studio with me and shares some tips!


  1. Awesome! Happy to have you back on your blog and I look forward to future classes!

  2. Thank-you! Please let me know if something doesn't make sense in my instructions :)

  3. Very interesting....I am going to Pin this to look at more closely later.