The Arcane Dragonry

24th September 2017

Ysera the Dreamer

Hi everyone. As I have pointed out a few times recently, I’ve been working on a new dragon and I must say I’m VERY excited about it. Some of you might know who it is I’m honouring by reading the title. For those who don’t know Ysera, she used to be the Queen of Dreams before her ever so tragic passing. Rest in peace, you’ll be forever in our hearts.

As you can see in the picture above, Ysera was known for having glowy cyan eyes. So what I’m doing with this project is install lights inside, so both the eyes and mouth illuminate. It will run on easily replaceable 2xAA batteries and will have an on/off switch. Cool,  huh? Don’t worry, I will document all of this as I go for you to see.

I got myself some copper-coloured Fimo polymer clay and started making her jewelry. I made steel wire frames to go inside to both provide support and easier application later on (especially with the crescent crown, since it’s “floating”).

Once baked, I gave it a nice aging treatment with some bitumen of Judea. Looking good! I also included the eyes in the picture for you to see. I made them as I usually do, but leaving a large black rim around them.

Did you notice all of those teeth I baked along with the jewelry? Well, I tried using a new product for those as an experiment. Instead of glow in the dark Fimo, I used Fimo professional doll art (porcelain colour). It was tough to work with and a bit crumbly, so it  made me wonder if they gave me an old block or if it’s always like that. Regardless, I made a big batch of teeth and baked it. I let everything cool down, and I checked to see how good or bad it was. I always have to be super extra careful while working on a dragon so I won’t break the fangs. They’re very strong, but if the tip gets caught anywhere and you pull, they can break quite easily, so this is something I normally struggle with. To my surprise however, this clay is EXTREMELY flexible, almost like rubber! You can bend as much as you want: it just won’t break, but not only that, it will go back to how it was before and not leave any marks whatsoever. It’s incredible! Totally worth the price in my opinion. Check out these pictures, I got proof!

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There will be another update soon. Stay tuned!

10th September 2017

Evakyl’usk

Hi everyone! After a long summer break full of camping trips, I’m back with news! Evakyl’usk is finished now. He’s up for sale for £580.00 on Etsy, or £550.00 on my website (plus £30.98 shipping). I’m quite pleased with the paintjob, although (as usual), pictures are not that great. His dimensions are: 27cm (width) x 42cm (length) x 32cm (height) / 10.6″ (width) x 16.5″ (length) x 12.6″ (height), and he’s 1.6 kg / 3.5 lb. If you’ve got any questions, please feel free to email me: info@thearcanedragonry.co.uk

Stay tuned for the next post, where I’ll announce the dragon I’m working on now… she is very famous, but sadly, she passed away recently. Can you guess?? Hope you like it and feel free to comment!

Evakyl'usk top - by The Arcane Dragonry

Evakyl'usk side - by The Arcane Dragonry

Evakyl'usk front - by The Arcane Dragonry

 

28th June 2017

Woodwork

Hello hello! No, I haven’t painted Evakyl yet, but no one has bought it either. In the meantime, I’ll show you how I made the shield for the next dragon (which has been decided and I’ll be announcing it very soon!). It’s not going to be a long post, pictures are pretty self-explanatory, really. Basically, because of two bad experiences with the last two shields I ordered, I decided to get some equipment to try and make my own. I’m not unfamiliar with carpentry, so I just had to buy a router and little else. I’ve had a small stack of very hard red wood shelves for some time, and I thought I’d try and make shields with those. It was very tough to saw, and even moreso to route. The wood was so hard, it tended to burn very quickly, so I had to work very slowly. I’m glad I got some really high quality stuff though, I don’t think cheap alternatives would have cut it for this.

Now, I’m not sure what kind of wood it is exactly. I thought it was some sort of hard wood conifer because of the small pinhole knots, but once I sanded it thoroughly, I realised it was red wood. As you can see in the pictures,  it’s a pale pink timber with very deep red veins… smells lovely too! Perhaps it’s some type of aromatic tropical tree? I really don’t know. But I felt almost guilty for giving it a teak-coloured varnish. It was so nice as it was! Oh well. I think it turned out alright, and the best thing is that it’s bigger than the one’s I’ve been using up until now. There’s been this size limit imposed by the craftsman because of reasons, and I always thought the shields looked a bit too small for the dragon heads. So we will see with this one!

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17th June 2017

Feel like painting?

Hi folks! Evakyl’usk is looking pretty good. I finished two days ago and now it’s only missing the paint. A friend of mine saw it and he told me it makes him want to paint it really badly. I can understand that. So I thought I’d give him a chance to find someone who would like to paint him. So during the next week or so, while I prepare things for the next one (which by the way, it’s going to be amazing, just you wait!), Evakyl will be for sale without a paint job for £490 (plus shipping). The shield is solid oak with a reddish varnish like the one I used for Odrajux; you can see it if you click here. So go ahead and contact me if you’re interested before it’s too late!

Anyway, I’m showing you today the last finishing touches I gave this dragon. Basically, the only things that were missing (aside from a few fixes here and there) were some scales in the top part of the neck and the horns, doing the forehead with clay and leveling the gap between the eyebrows and the horns. For the big scales, I just used DAS and basic tools. For the little horn scales I just used the same stuff I made the skin with: an extremely thin textile blend and PVA glue. I just cut it in different square sizes and placed them carefully. It was actually a bit tricky, I am pleased with the results though… it looks as if they sort of blend with the horns. The whole forehead/eyebrow situation was simple enough, but it made a big difference. Oh! and I also made the horns look a bit more realistic by giving them a super thinned coat of bitumen of Judea. The bitumen was actually absorbed by the fabric, so I had to paint it white so avoid problems later when painting it. Scroll down and judge for yourselves!

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Evakyl'usk without paint - by The Arcane Dragonry

16th June 2017

Introducing Aika

She’s slender and long. Veeery long. She looks like a tiny little thing when she’s curled up or sitting, but when she stretches, she defies the laws of physics. Really. It’s like some sort of extreme version of those human instruments called accordion. I’m talking about Aika, by the way; one of my cats. I’ve had her for a bit over two years now. Today I’m going to tell her story. I will highlight it, so if you’re only interested in the dragon tutorial, feel free to skip the whole cursive text. It’s funny how I got her. She just… happened. One night around 11pm, one of my neighbours knocks on my door telling me to let Hoshi (my cat) in. He wouldn’t believe me when I told him my cat was just chilling with me on the bed, so I walk to the street door to check “my cat”, only to find a tiny clon of Hoshi. She rushed towards me and started rubbing hardcore against my feet, purring like bananas. My neighbour left, so I found myself wondering what to do with her. It was a very cold november night. The streets were all covered in snow and slush, and this kitten was thin as a rake. I decided to keep her inside for the night, and think about what to do the day after.

The night went by peacefully. I didn’t know how Hoshi would react to her, but he was ok enough. I took her to the vet and informed them of the situation. She was filthy, malnourished, full of parasites (inside and outside), and they told me they thought she was a 3 weeks old “discarded” litter runt. They gave her some shots and anti-parasitic meds, and told me to come back in a week for more vaccines. I contacted my local lost and found pet charity. They took all the information and they advised me to do the most bizarre thing. So basically, they told me to get collar with an ID tube thing (one of those that contains a little piece of paper with your address, in case your pet gets lost), and write my phone number there. Then, I was to let her outside again, and wait for her to return to her home, and then her caretakers would ring me. Just… what? Can you believe that? I don’t know what this person was thinking, but I just agreed and hung up. I mean, what kind of logic was that? I just decided to do things the sensible way.

I opened the window, as Hoshi normally goes out for a few hours a day, but she was terrified of the outside. She never even attempted to go out at all, so adding that to the fact that she was so tame, I came to the conclusion that she did belong to a household. So I paid to put an add in the local newspaper for two weeks, I put a few posters up in my street and also I contacted yet another pet charity. Needless to say, I also told my neighbours, friends and co-workers. Time passed, day by day, and nobody would ring asking about their beloved lost kitten. I grew worried, as I really didn’t want another cat. I tried by best not to grow attached to her either, I didn’t even name her anything in those weeks.

I took her to the vet again for her second round of vaccines, and they told me that if by the time the newspaper notice expired nobody got in touch, they would arrange a pick-up van to come and take her to a shelter. Now, that broke my heart right there. I used to volunteer at a shelter and I know how appalling conditions can be at shelters, and how miserable animals live there. So I spent that last week wishing that somebody would call to reclaim her… but it didn’t happen.

I knew aaaall of the cats in the neighbourhood. She looked nothing like any of the ferals, and no other female cats had had any litter recently. I never saw more kittens her age around. She was so tame, even the vet thought she was a house cat… yet, nobody wanted her, or nobody cared enough to look for her. Why? Maybe she was born in a household with non-neutered cats, they had a litter and they wanted no responsibility… so they just dumped them/her outside. Who knows, maybe she was the only survivor. Maybe her baby brothers and sisters died in the snowy streets. Maybe someone purchased her life to present her to their children as a surprise toy-thing, and other household members were not ok with it. And with lives being non-refundable, she ended up in the street. I really don’t know. Despite how passionate I am about humans and their ways, sometimes they do despicable things like this. It’s a very common thing among the human race not to have any respect for other life forms, or have respect only for some… depending on their own judgement and/or upbringing.

The time came for the shelter to pick her up, and she did return to the veterinary… but not to be taken away, but to have her spayed. Even though it was incredibly inconvenient for me to have a second cat, I had to keep her. I couldn’t live with myself knowing that I sent her to a shelter. Who knows what kind of life she would have had. So she was “kitten” no longer… she became “Aika”: a beloved companion that still remains with me to this day, and is friends with Hoshi. They fight sometimes, but they normally play and chill together. Remember I said at the beginning of the post that she was a clon of Hoshi? Well, she’s actually like a mirrored copy of him. Check these pictures out and see for yourself!

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I just realised the massive wall of text I wrote. I apologise, it took a lot longer to tell the story than I had planned! I hope you did enjoy it though. If you’re interested, maybe I can share Hoshi’s story some other time. Anyway! I’ve worked a lot of Evakyl’usk and the only thing missing now is the paintjob. It’s been a lot more work than usual, but boy oh boy, has it been rewarding! So basically, instead of using regular cloth mache to do the face, I made it mostly out of extra-lightweight air-dry clay. Mind you, I also used cloth for the bottom layer (as you might remember seeing from the last post), but it’s only visible around the eyes and the forehead. There’s not much to explain about the process, since it was all just moulding the clay, really. I used very basic tools, nothing fancy. It took me a while because I did bit by bit. I would let it dry and continue on the other side, and so on. The cracking was minimum, but it did happen. I still need to fix some of the deep cracks, but that’s done in a minute.

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Now, this is not all of the progress, but I’m going to end this update here because it’s turning out to be an extra-lengthy one. Expect another update soon!

 

6th June 2017

Cheeky!

Cheeky! I discovered a trick to make some mache stuff not stick to things. Why would you want to do that, you ask? Well, I decided to do the mouth side membranes with this new material I spoke about a few posts ago, but the thing with that is… it’s very fragile. After some experiments I realised that it just breaks if you try to pull it loose after it’s dry. So what I did was put some masking tape where I wanted it to be loose, and it worked great. This way, I was able to paint inside of the cheeks without ruining the mouth (breaking fangs, painting things accidentaly…). Check out the pictures!

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After the paint was dry, I glued both ends and it was done. The mouth is looking pretty good, don’t you agree? I don’t have pictures of this, but to give the face a bit of shape, I used an experimental mix of PVA glue, paper pulp, flour and gypsum. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t the best either… the “recipe” definitely needs some tweaking. I also made the horns with Fimo -as usual- and I shaped them in a way that would fit the piece perfectly. If you look at the pictures you will notice they just follow the lines of the “flesh”. Normally I glue the horns after I do the skin, but I decided to do the opposite this time because of how I made the horns “click in”. I thought it would look a lot more natural doing it this way. I hope I’m right!

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27th May 2017

Today

Today I’m showing you in detail how I make the tongue of a trophy. I don’t think I will need to explain much, since all of the pictures are pretty self-explanatory. I always cut a bit of galvanised steel wire and cut it to shape. This helps me stick to the right size, and if I don’t do this, there’s a chance the tongue will be too big or too small. This is going to be a very fleshy tongue, so I made the chunky bit that goes underneath by wrapping a ball of newspaper in tape, and then wrap more newspaper all around the wire. Once this is done, I secure everything with tape before covering it all up with paper mache. Then, all is left is just to paint it and varnish it. I made a very elaborate post on how I paint tongues while making Odrajux. Click here if you’re interested in checking that out.

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I hope that helped. Now moving onto the eyes! After some testing, I found a little trick that will help if you paint or print eyes and then glue that to cabochons. The problem with this is that it’s very easy to ruin them due to all of the moisture that filters in while applying glue or paint. BUT! I found this material I bought ages ago and barely used and did some experiments. It’s Mod Podge’s Dimensional Magic. It’s a very runny white fluid that dries clear and keeps a bit of volume. So what I did was lie the paper eyes on top of a single laminating sheet, then apply the Dimensional Magic to the back of the cabochon, and then press it down on each eye. It worked like a charm! Also, I don’t know if it helped much, but I did give the black areas a layer of acrylic paint so it would be extra-dark. So maybe that helped the ink stay in place? I’m not sure. Anyway! I’m pretty happy with the results. I will publish another update soon. Working with clay, paper pulp and glue is a nightmare when it’s this hot. What a hellish week!

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25th May 2017

Tadaima~

Hi hi, hello! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? As you may have read, my computer broke down fatally very unexpectedly. It’s amazing the amount of attachment one slowly develops around bits of inanimate materials put together if we use them often. Luckily, what broke down didn’t affect the hard drives, so I didn’t lose anything. And also, it was the perfect excuse to upgrade, so I got myself a brand new shiny piece of that human technology that I so dearly missed having. A bit fancy, but not super fancy. It looks pretty cool though, judge for yourselves:

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Now, regarding dragons… I’ve made quite a bit of progress on the new one, so expect some more new posts soon! Now, let me tell you a bit about the dragon I’m making now. His name is Evakyl’usk, or Evak for short. He was a friend, a loved character among us. He was quite the chatty fellow, always cheerful, ever so wise and kind, always willing to listen and brighten up your spirits. He… changed though. Over the years he became colder and distant, and his once bright orange skin started to turn darker. He once told me when I visited him that he was struggling with some inner turmoil and that he felt he was changing. I offered to help by consulting higher powers or magic, but soon after that he announced he was leaving… and so he flew away to never come back. It’s been many a century now, and I don’t even know if he’s still alive, but I still remember him fondly, and so I decided to make a sculpture of his head.

I started by making paper mache balls, as usual, and hollowing them afterwards. This time, instead of using both jaw pieces as they were, I cut a bit off, because paper mache is not as flexible as Evakul’s jaws and I wanted to achieve a dramatic angle, hah. In the picture below, you can see the sketch I made of the head before I began working on it.

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First, I cut some normal cotton fabric to size and dipped it in PVA glue. This makes a nice “mouth skin”.  This time I didn’t have to make new teeth, since I made so many in the last batch. But if you didn’t know, I make them with Fimo (the kind of polymer clay you need to bake). As usual, I just hot-glued them to the jaws and wrapped them in PVA fabric. With a twist this time, though! I found this new material which is a very lightly woven blend of cotton and rayon fibers which is very tricky to work with, but it looks great and is a lot less temperamental than normal cloth when trying to make it stay in place. Also it’s so thin that overlapping layers are almost invisible to the eye! Check it out:

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Now, I know I always talk about how great of a thing bitumen of Judea is, but apparently the vast majority of people doesn’t even know what it is, so let me enlighten you. Bitumen of Judea is a liquid consisting of basically a bit of oil and a chemical component found in asphalt that  had a very deep and rich dark brown colour. It is mostly used for wood staining and other wood treatments, but I love using it on anything that will take it. I don’t think I’ve ever shown you exactly what it looks like when used, so I put together both jaws after coating the teeth of one of them with bitumen of Judea, so you can see the before and after. Amazing, isn’t it? It makes those fangs look a lot more natural, more like real bone.

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Now, let me wrap up by saying that if you’re interested in making one of these dragon trophies of your own, I recommend Dan Reeder’s “Paper Mache Dragons” book -which I own- where he explains his technique step by step with pictures. I’ve taken inspiration from there to make most of the initial steps to put these trophies together. Anyway, that’s all for now. As I said, I’ll be posting again very soon. I hope you’re enjoying a warm week of spring wherever you are. Bye bye for now!

23rd March 2017

Odrajux

I promised yesterday to post pictures of finished Odrajux… and I’m delivering! I experimented a bit with things here and there while making him, so it was quite fun. I wholeheartedly hope you like it as much as I do and spread the word so he can find a home! His measurements are 29cm wide, 35cm high and 48cm long, and he weighs 1.3kg. He is now for sale for £520 (£550 on Etsy). Shipping cost to mainland UK is £30.98 with insurance covering up to £100. If you want to extend that to a full cover, it would be an extra £19.80. Contact me for options to ship outside of the UK.

If you want to see these pictures in full size, click here to go to the gallery. If you want to visit my Etsy shop instead, click here.

Thank you all for the support and have a fantastic day!

Odrajux front - by The Arcane Dragonry

 

Odrajux side - by The Arcane Dragonry

 

Odrajux top - by The Arcane Dragonry

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22nd March 2017

Augh!

Hello humans! Odrajux is finished! In this post I’ll just quickly show you the process of painting him, but I’ll be taking proper pictures soon to show you. Odrajux has been the dragon that’s taken me the longest time to paint so far. I tried a different approach: instead of painting with “bright” colours and then black-washing to add depth, this time I went for a very dark base and slowly added layers of lighter tones until it was just right. This is true for the red/brown areas of the dragon though. I still black-washed the neck plates and chin.

So I decided to start with the lighter colours: white and ochres, and then gave the rest of the dragon an umber coat. It looked pretty good already! Once dry, I started giving it layers of plain red. Loads of layers. Even more than you think. But eventually, it became opaque enough to look red. Time consuming as it was, this actually gave the whole thing a lot of depth. I also blended in a tiny bit of blue and sienna here and there to add to the richness. Once the colours were pretty solid (that would be the last picture), I proceeded to black wash the lower neck, and then I worked on dry-brushing all of the details, highlights and shadows. Again, this took quite a bit of time due to drying times (using that much retarding medium didn’t help!), but it looked great in the end. Also, I used significantly more paint than usual, but it looks pretty nice. I’m not showing any pictures of the finished thing on this post, but I will soon! Stay tuned!

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