Sunday, 21 October 2012

Dragon skins

Using bubble wrap to create a dragon texture
Creating the dragon skins was an alternative to drawing/painting a whole dragon. We had been on a visit to see the statue of St George and the Dragon and had sketched a dragon there - some of the children enjoyed the experience while a few felt intimidated. This did not feel good - there should be a joy to creating so I wanted to take the stress out of creating something that LOOKED like a dragon and do something a little more abstract - and making a dragon skin seemed to fit the bill.

We had read a book called How to Raise a Dragon - and in there we had seen descriptions of the eggs and the skins - so to create a dragon skin was a natural step for us - and for the children it seemed the right step - they were all very enthusiastic about it.
Testing - the whole process was about testing - here was a test to see if rings could be created by printing them


I had prepared the session by setting out materials that I thought would make great dragon skin prints and patterns - and then just to make it more fun I also put out things that I had no idea what sort of patterns they would make and even things that I thought would probably not make much of a pattern at all. I hoped that the children would experiment - and they did. Only one of the 12 children (in 2 groups) tested everything - and that child tested it systematically - she went through them all and then returned to her favourites. Most of the children kept to 4 or 5 things to make patterns with and one child used only one pattern making item.


It turned out to be easier to create rings directly on the paper


We started with a base colour - they could choose any colour they wished. Several were influenced by their friends choice - but most had a very clear idea of what their dragon colour would be - and asked to mix colours to create the right hue.

Once their paper was filled with colour they had access to the gold paint and other colours to make patterns. Only two of the children used a variation of colours - the gold paint was VERY attractive and was applied liberally by many onto the materials used for printing even if they then did not use the gold on their paper. For many the sensory experience was an important part of creating the dragon skin. It was a time of discovery - feeling the textures, seeing the prints build up on top of each other and then smudging them with hands to start again. There were amazing skin designs that got wiped smooth again before a new skin emerged proudly.


Painting the cardboard to create patterns. It also felt great as the sponge brush danced across the cardboard

The anticipation - will it work?

The joy of lifting up the cardboard and seeing a new pattern emerge - "like magic"


Most children worked at these skins for a long period of time. Only two children (one from each group) made the decision to finish much earlier than the others - I was happy to see that they could leave without influencing the others to shorten their experience... in fact I could have allowed more time - but feeding the children is important too...

This plastic was used in several ways - painting and printing but also using it like a stencil

Cut out kitchen rolls to try and create a scale effect. Whole, half and quarter rolls were available.


One of the children examined everything. He would paint something and he would then examine how the paint looked on the item - he then would print and print and then examine the item again and discovered the paint was almost gone. He did this with everything - he was the only child that put dry things onto his paper to create patterns - or maybe it was to discover how the paint went from the paper to the item?
One of the finished dragon skins

dragons kin detail

another detail

the final offering for today...
It was a great project to witness - and should the interest for dragons, lizards or dinosaurs ever pop up in a group again I will surely give this a go - allowing more time though!


December 2013
Looking back and reflecting on this I realise that this has been one of my favourite projects in the atelier...
Next time though I would love to delve into the world of dragons deeper and start to design dragon eggs and also encourage the children to think about what sort of habitat they live in, how dangerous they are, what they eat and can they be trained etc...
At the moment I canot think of how to develop the actual sessio further - maybe more items and more colours - possibly paint with structure to enable a more 3D effect...

1 comment:

  1. Looks like so much fun! I'm thinking we may need to create a few dragon skins around here sometime. Maybe when it's warmer, though, so they can paint outside!

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