We both became interested in dragons well before we had even met each but it was the same dragon that inspired a life long love of fantasy. The dragon from “The Hobbit” known as “Smog.” When I was a child I drew every dragon that I came across, around the same time Tanner was doing the exact same thing. Tanner’s friend introduced him to “The Hobbit” and it changed his whole interests from then on. The poetry in the book and when he later read the Lord of the Rings Trilogy inspired Tanner to write thousands of poems, draw hundreds of pictures and write several unpublished short stories.
I came across “The Hobbit” a year before it was assigned in school to read it (grade 4 or 5 I think) and ended up reading it at least 10 times since then. To me what stuck out, besides “Smog,” were the parts about mounds of treasure which inspired my love of jewelry and stones. Since then I knew I wanted to make jewelry that looked like something “Smog” kept in his treasury; like long forgotten adornments antiqued by time inscribed with ancient symbols and designs.
We wanted to make a 3-D sculptural version of some of the dragons we had drawn over the years so we began the long process of prototyping and creating a dragon mask.
This dragon mask was first sketched out on paper and then we decided where we wanted the folds. We picked a 5/6-ounce (the thickness of the leather) piece of leather so it wasn’t so heavy that it was difficult to sculpt and too heavy to wear. Once the piece was cut out and carved, we sculpted it to what you see in the picture. Sculpting this mask took around 4 hours and over night to completely dry so it could be coloured. We dyed part of it to make it look like textured dragon scales and the blended acrylic paint to do smooth areas on the snout and horns. When the paint was completely dry (it can take up to 24 hours) we then painted the inside of the mask, let it dry and sealed it to protect the inside and make it easier to clean. When that was complete we sprayed the outside with an acrylic spray which makes it shiny and acts as a protector. We then added finishing touches like metal horns, spikes, etc. The whole dragon mask from start to finish can take up to 6 days to complete! Many of our other masks take the same amount of time depending how many colours, layers or extras we add to the mask.
The mask was historically inspired by our travels, as well as, by “Smog” and dyed a deep red. The horns on this dragon were created by a process called fold forming. It is basically a forging technique that can create really interesting shapes. We used a fairly thin copper for these horns so they can be worn without adding weight to the mask and at the same time are fairly large. The blue colouring on the horns is a patina which took over 20 hours to form over the metal. If you are interested in this technique just leave a comment below and we might be able to do a video of the process in the future. Once the patina is completed an acrylic was spray over top to seal the patina and the horns were attached! Now the mask is ready to display or wear. On this post we have several of the dragon masks in different colours.
Our large dragon book with copper shield front and the Archangel Michael hand carved on the back of the book. This book is sold.
Our historic version of a dragon on one of our shield rings.
While traveling we have came across dozens of different styles of dragons with different meanings. One image that has really stood out for me, which we have seen in several museums, cathedrals and churches, was the image or sculpture of St. George fighting the dragon or in some cases it’s the Archangel Michael fighting the dragon. In a simplified version of the legend of St. George he saved a town from a dragon that demanded the villagers sacrifice their family members to appease it. The story behind the archangel Michael and the dragon, seen in iconography, describes the battle between Michael and his angels fighting the dragon and the dragon’s angels. You can usually tell the difference between the two, Michael and St. George, because Michael occasionally has wings and is not on horseback.
While going through our pictures we found dozens of historical dragons. We chose several that we based our items on. In this post we also feature some of our items that we made inspired from these photographs.
Beautiful hand carved wooden icon based on St. George fighting the dragon. Unfortunately there was no date tied to this piece. It was photographed in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Incredibly beautiful handmade dragon chalice. This chalice, from my understanding of our tour guide, is several hundred years old. To me this looks like a modern fantasy dragon. Photographed in Rostock, Germany.
Tanner photographed this dragon from our first trip to Rome, Italy on the roof of a building. The date of the carving is unknown.
Another stylized version of the dragon, but found on one of the old wooden stave churches. We were told by a credible source that the dragons were on the churches as a form of protection. That with the cross it was considered twice as strong of protection as opposed to just having a cross. Photographed in Oslo, Norway.
There are hundreds of dragons in viking culture. Many of them are so stylized and different from the modern fantasy style dragon they are almost unrecognizable. This one was found with a viking ship and is on display in Oslo, Norway at the Viking ship museum.
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