With June fast approaching, I was really taken by the idea of making full dragon sculptures with Pride-themed paint jobs. We'd made a gay pride dragon before, and I wanted to take the idea further and make it into a full series.
Unfortunately, with everything going on and all the house projects Theresa and I were trying to get done while she's working from home, the time got away from us. I realized we wouldn't be able to complete these dragons before June, but I had another idea. Since I’ve been exploring the idea of adding some reliefs to the shop, I suggested that we make a relief of a dragon that we could paint with different pride flag colors instead!
Lucky for me, Theresa was on board with the idea, and helped me draw up some designs for a template. This is what we landed on
I tested some mock-up paint jobs with it, and, satisfied, traced it onto some printer paper. (We don’t have a printer, so I have to do that with any templates we make for design ideas.)
After that, and the trial of getting the traced version as symmetrical as possible, it was a simple matter of painstakingly sitting at the table for 8 hours while I got increasingly more and more frustrated with my creation. True story.
I shared the process with friends along the way, but mostly it was a painful and lonely slog. I've also misplaced my small carving tools, so I had to figure out ways to work on the little nooks and crannies of the design where my tools wouldn't fit. I did have to make a couple alterations to the design, like the mouth, but did my best to stay true to the design we’d agreed upon.
Finally I was ready to give it an acetone wash and call it a night. This was on May 30th, because I’m a master procrastinator. My plan was to block-mold it the next morning, and then get started prepping the casts for Pride paint jobs. Now, in my experience, even the most straightforward of plans are usually subject to the most obnoxious, preventable setbacks. But not this time! The silicone I planned to use for the mold has a cure time for 4 hours, so to give myself as much time as possible to work on the casts, I planned to get up early and pour the mold right away!
Yeah, that thing about preventable setbacks? I slept in until around 10:30, and by the time I was ready to pour the mold, it was 11. Between my late start and other household responsibilities, by the time I actually got to demold the master and start casting, it was nearly 4pm.
But! Thankfully our resin actually cures very fast - it has a pot time of 4 minutes and a cure time of 10. Before the day was out, I was able to have 6 cast dragons. Cleaning up these casts was also a lot faster than cleaning up our full, 3D figurines. Not only was I able to cast 6, but they were all sanded and ready for base coating within an hour or so of demolding. Plus I had time to insert magnets into five of them, and use the sixth one to test out the design’s potential as a pendant. (I think I'm onto something with that, but it needs more testing first.)
Having all these cast, paint-ready dragons also gave me an excuse to finally try out an airbrush that a friend lent us, and it made the whole process so much less painful. I loved being able to just spray and go - no worry about getting my fingerprints all over the drying paint, or covering up the texture with thick brushstrokes. I definitely hope to do a few more tests with it before I have to return it - if it saves me time and saves my hands from paintbrush cramps, it might be worth buying one for ourselves. But I digress. Back to the actual creation of the dragons!
By now, it’s about 10pm on May 31st, and I need to sleep. So I set aside the actual painting until the next day. I wanted to have these babies done by the start of Pride, but like I said, I’m a procrastinator.
Waking up June 1st, I cleaned the litter boxes, ate some cornflakes, and sat down to work. The first two paint jobs happened after no small amount of pestering my friends (again) for opinions, especially when it came to the finishing touches. There were just so many options, and I was feeling a bit flummoxed. Black wash? Metallic sheen? Glitter???
In the end though, the only thing you can do is pick a path and follow it. And how else are you supposed to figure out what works?
I’ll probably do things differently next time, but the first two dragons came out well enough, and the others are coming along! I’m super excited to try doing more of them, but I have to wait until more magnets come in the mail.
I have no idea what their reception will be or if people will like them, but I’m tickled pink by them, honestly, for more reasons than the pride paint jobs. Any long-time followers of ours will know that workflow has been a major issue for us - it takes forever for us to get from one stage to another, for several reasons. But these dragons are different. In three days, the master was made, molded, and then multiple casts were made, cleaned up, and base coated. That kind of speed is alien to us! Even though they aren't available for sale yet, I think they will be soon, with how fast they're moving along.
To me, these dragons represents a way that I can do work quickly, and on my own if need be! I hope that you guys like them too, and that they also come to represent a viable new path for me to explore in the future!
(In the meantime, if you want to check out our other Pride stuff, it's here!)