Every year I try to make a handmade gift for each of my (3) daughters and my husband. I love making stuff, and I want to put that joy into things for them, but it also shows my girls that you don't necessarily have to spend (much) money to be a generous person. By making stuff for them, I think it also demonstrates that we (my husband and I) value the stuff they make for us. There's so much joy to come from creating with your hands, and adding a gifting element multiplies that joy!
My daughter was (and still is) big fan of the Wings of Fire book series. She had been the character Moonwatcher for Halloween that year, so I thought I'd use some of our paper bag and cardboard hoard to build her a Moon sculpture to sit on top of her bookshelf (The final build is comically to large to fit on that shelf - we have no idea where she's going to live permanently!) The first step was to find some reference images from with Wings of Fire Fandom Wiki. From there I was able to break the character down into simple shapes that I could make with balls of paper and tape.
After covering the pieces with paper maché, I was able to assemble them like building blocks to make my dragon's body. Then came the arduous task of building all her body armour.
I struggled with finding a way to build a set of wings with the level of craftsmanship I desired. After trying to make them with cloth and wire and not being happy with the result, I opted to sandwich some heavy-duty paper between layers of cardboard. I bulked these out with some aluminium kitchen foil and paperclay to get an organic looking result, and the extra work was worth it!
I achieved Moon's dragon shin texture by stippling over the entire sculpture with a homemade modelling paste of drywall mud and glue tinted with black paint. This gave her some great bumps and she no longer felt like cardboard. I sprayed her down with several coats of Plasti-Dip , which gave her a rubbery, reptilian feel all over! Dry-brushing with a bit of emerald green and grey highlighted all the texture and brought in some colour dimension.
The book series says that Moonwatcher's scales change from greenish to purplish black in sunlight, and I was able to achieve that effect with this product called Dragonfly Glaze from FolkArt brand. It was my first time using this stuff, and I was really impressed with how it was shimmery, but not glittery. I used a big makeup brush to just barely dust it on, and used less than half a bottle! (I used colour 44383 "Violet-Blue-Green") As a final touch, and at my daughter's request (this gift was several months late and no longer a surprise at this point), I made Moon her accessory neck pouch and several scrolls!
My daughter loves her dragon despite it being late! We have no idea where to put this huge monster, but she's guarding the empty top bunk in her bedroom for now. You can watch the full build video here!