Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dragon mobile

Last year, my dear friend Ryan requested a dragon mobile. I was flattered by the challenge and opted to make this custom creation a 30th birthday gift. The mobile ended up being a much belated gift, since it took 13 months to put together. It's a true one-of-a-kind creation, and no, I will not be selling anything like this in my shop!

Last March, I sat down to draw the three dragons, after Ryan said that he would prefer classic/medieval dragons to the Asian variety. I researched dragons online, sifting through page after page of dragon drawings, anatomy texts, toys, and literary illustrations. I chose three that I could draw myself and simplify into templates for the mobile.

I then sketched the dragons, enlarged them on a photocopier, traced them on vellum multiple times, and cut the individual parts (wings, limbs) to create the templates. Next, I traced around the templates on carefully selected scrapbook paper, which I'd chosen to appeal to and represent Ryan's taste and interests. After I traced the various dragon parts once, I flipped the templates over and traced them again so I could glue them together, thus creating dragons with two similar sides.

This dragon is based on an image of a toy. I was drawn to his upright posture and ferocious combination of teeth and tongue. I made him out of scrapbook paper that had subtle paragraphs about music. His wings are cut from paper decorated with reproductions of vintage advertisements. I selected an ad for a sewing machine as a nod to Ryan's wife (and my best friend), Sarah.

This was the first dragon I completed. He's based on a line drawing I found on a random website. His posture appealed to me -- he seems to be a particularly agile dragon. He's made out of pirate-themed paper. When I traced this one, I intended to use the subtle, parchment-colored side of the paper, but the brown side with the pirate design was much more exciting as exotic dragon skin.

Natalie named this one "Dragon and Dragon and Dragon." (My 3-year-old is into repeating things.)

This is Smaug, famed foe from 'The Hobbit.' I don't remember from which edition of the literary masterpiece this illustration came, but he is the quintessential dragon. He was also a creative challenge every step of the way, and I wanted to crumple him up and throw him out the window more than once. And even after I finished his body and wings, he wouldn't balance properly. I had to create a special wire harness to keep him still.

The paper had dragon scales/chain-link fence patterns behind a collage of text about music. I intended to have this dragon breathing fire, but I glued his mouth shut before I could engineer something to look like fire. Instead, his whole body is reminiscent of fire. I colored the wings myself using inks and texture brushes. The wings' paper is a reproduction of a vintage map of North America. I selected California and included Ryan's hometown and our current city of residence.

I added the ram horns to Smaug's original horns.

My husband Bret was a great help, encouragement, and engineer as I made this mobile. He also served as my background holder when I was ready to photograph the finished project.


deetles said...

Wow - that is wonderful!

goshery said...

Holy Smokes Andrea! What talent! I can't believe that you were able to draw such amazing dragons, and then that you had the patience to cut them out. I'm sure that your friend will love it! Consider me impressed.

Anonymous said...

That is amazing work girl! So intricate...I can see why it took you so long.

Jamie :)

Regina said...

this is jaw-dropping-amazing!!!!!!
I can understand why you wouldn't be making these to sell, but for enough $$$$$$$$ - could finance a trip back to the Midwest ;-)

Ryan said...

I'll repeat here what I wrote as a comment for the previous post: The. Dragon. Mobile. Is. Amazing.

My wife noticed that I make a proud face whenever I look at it. I'm proud to own it and proud to have such a talented, generous friend!

Jen Smith said...