We bring to you today a preserved egg of the Northern Armored Drake (Dracorexus loricatus), one of the more elusive species of dragonkind. Just right click on any of the photos below to open up the super-sized version in another tab.
This was a fun little project. The egg itself started life as an Easter toy. After epoxying the seam I injected it with expanding foam to give it a nice, solid feel. As much as I like "Game of Thrones" I absolutely hated the scaled texture treatment they gave their dragon eggs. I wanted something leathery studded with bony protrusions. After sanding down the plastic to give it some tooth I applied the first layer of skin with paper clay. The leathery texture was a simple matter of mixing up the paper clay slightly wet, waiting for a "skin" to form while it dried, and then pushing and prodding it to get those nice organic folds.
While the paper clay was still moist I applied the armor studs. They're shells, more precisely the shells of Patelloida Lottiidae, the star limpet. I wish I could take credit for the idea of detailing gaffs with seashells, but it's actually an old technique I stumbled across. Once the skin was dry I added some more texture using paperclay and then gave the whole thing a once over with shellac.
Have I mentioned how much I love shellac? It not only provides a warm, aged finish, but it's amazingly tough stuff. Back before the invention of things like polyurethane and acrylic it was the the go-to sealant for gaff makers working in paper mache.
Once the egg was finished I needed a suitable container. This started life as a box for bath salts painted with the most insipid faux-Chinese imagery imaginable. While they skimped on the art design they invested heavily in getting the toughest, most solvent resistant paint imaginable. I tried sanding it off, but the paint had actually seeped into the unsealed wood. After removing as much as I could I taped off the panels and sponged it with a mix of red, dark brown, and metallic copper acrylic. I followed that with a coat of stain.
With the terrible paint job fixed it was time to tackle the cheap hardware. The original fittings were bargain basement brass-plated steel. I replaced them with leather strapping attached with copper studs. The "dragon tooth" catch is an antler tip that got the once over with a Dremel carving bit to roughen it up.
The final step was buffing down the box and hardware with Schmutz. That's my standby mixture of furniture wax, burnt umber oil paint, and ground up pastel chalks. It fills up any indentations with grime and produces a warm patina on any flat surfaces. Take a look at the large versions of the pics to see how it brings out the grain and every imperfection.
If you like this piece it just happens to be available on Ebay.