Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The story of Lucy the Dragon

This is Lucy, minus her wings. How do I happen to have a dragon residing in my art room? Here's the whole story: I've been a freak for dragons for as long as I can remember - I began drawing my version of a dragon when I was a kid. (I think it's cool to know I was born in the Chinese Year of the Dragon.)
Anyhow, about 1/2 dozen years ago I decided it was time to build my very own dragon. I do a lot of papier-mache with kids at school, but I wanted to build BIG so it needed to be stronger than newspaper and goo. I recalled a really cool book, "The Simple Screamer", by Dan Reeder that I had bought in the '80's. He does what he calls "cloth-mache" using old sheeting torn up and then dipped in a thinned-down Elmer's Glue-All for the outer shell of his creatures. Here's what that book looks like, plus another of his that looks really great.
So during a summer vacation, I set up shop on a bridge table in the backyard. I built the basic dragon structure using chicken wire, duct tape, and whatever else seemed appropriate. I used sheeting for the first layer of cloth-mache, and then used a heavier cotton duck cut into the shape of scales, which I individually dipped in the glue and applied to the dragon. It was a laborious and time-consuming process but I loved it. When it rained, I covered her, and each winter I brought her to stay in my classroom as she is too big to go in my home. Here she is as a work-in-progress:
It took me a long time to figure out how to make her wings - I knew how they should look, but I didn't have a clue how to start. Once I completed the wings, I realized they had to be removeable or the dragon would not be able to be transported. Her body is about 5' long, and her wingspan was about 5' wide. Not easy to fit in the back of the car. (I considered putting her on the roof rack, but she's not particularly built to withstand the 30 mile commute at 70mph. Though she would have looked great going down the highway!)
So - I made wings without a plan to attach them, and then painted everything. From start to finish I spent almost three years constructing and painting Lucy, who is named after the Beatles song: Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.
However, I still had a BIG problem. I had wings but still no plan; but I had an opportunity to exhibit Lucy and her baby (yes, there's a baby, forever newly 'hatched' - the students have named her Sparkle - that's her below) in an art show. They had to be ready to deliver the next day.
In a panic I consulted the very creative technology teacher (formerly known as the 'shop' teacher - he's the guy with all the power tools) for an idea. He borrowed Lucy to devise a plan, and returned her a couple hours later with her wings on, without first checking to see that I approved of his solution. Big problem - I had designed her wings to curve forward and downward to envelop and protect the baby, but he had put them on upside down and backwards so they curl up and back. Even though the wings are removeable, they unfortunately are not interchangeable due to the way they are attached, and therefore could not be fixed. To this day, Lucy's wings are sadly wrong. :-(
Here is Lucy resting without her wings.


  1. what a fantastic dragon I want one tooo lol

  2. I might have to look for that paper mache Monster book. It looks like great inspiration.

  3. I really like your blog
    Thank you for liking my paintings
    if you can show my blog there in the USA
    I appreciate it.
    Look at the buttons of translations are the banners
    clik on any flag and the flag traduzirar
    that is clicked

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