Artistic challenges can sometimes make me hard to live with. Just ask my husband.

Throughout my career these challenges have caused more sleepless nights than I care to remember. That being said, I must admit I loved creating this commissioned piece, “Brilliance Afire.” This was a gift for someone who loves dragons, but not any old dragons.
“My husband likes the ones more like Harry Potter and less cartoony, “ said Marcia Zeinner.
I explained that while creating the entire creature was possible, it would be more dynamic if I cropped it just above the shoulders. This would create radiance and give the eye significant expression. She sent me one of his favorite images from a pattern book used in making tattoos. He had tabbed it years ago and forgotten all about it. It was the perfect choice, and with her willingness to give me complete artistic freedom, I was anxious to start. Now the fun began.

As you can see by this animation, the process included wet-felting, raw-appliqué, beading—or should I say “scaling,” custom thread work using water-soluble stabilizer, and needle-felting. The final art is 11” x 14.”

Materials: craft felt, merino wool, tussah silk, angelina fibers, cotton fabrics, metallic scales, banana fibers, and cotton threads.

Application: In order to create the look and feel of something magical, and to make the dragon stand out, I chose a night sky of purples and blues for the background, and added just a hint of shimmering, angelina fibers. I cut a piece of black craft felt 18” x 15” for the base and wet-felted the fibers into this.
(You can learn more about the process of wet-felting by doing a search—or better yet enroll in one of my workshops!)
Wet-felting can often dull the vibrancy, so I needle-felted additional color to the flames, adding back the luster, but only after I had completed my free-form sewing. Sewing on felt must be approached slowly because the thickness can break the strongest needles.
Using a light box I traced the drawing onto thin fabric and adhered it to the background using Misty fuse. I selected fabric prints that illuminated the mythical creature’s face and neck, and snipped and pinned them in to place.
I then thread-painted the collage using Aurifil 50 wt. cotton threads. Next, I hand stitched the metallic scales, carefully overlaying them using Nymo nylon beading thread. This added the armored look I was going for and luckily I had found just the right color to create drama. The mane could have been created using a variety of techniques such as thread painting, cut-up lace, hand embroidery, or couching with cords or ribbons. I couldn’t find the right colored embellishments, so I decided to create the mane using thread stitched onto organza with water-soluble stabilizer. I then hand-stitched the mane onto the dragon’s back being sure to cover the top edges of the metallic scales.

The entire process took me almost a week and luckily I was able to ship it to the happy client a month earlier than she had expected. Talk about magic!
And how did her husband react?

“I was pleased with surprising my husband and thought his first reaction was priceless. He traced the entire length of the design with his finger and was enamored with all of the different colored material and stitching…the scales, the background, and the flames. The original artwork was just a shell. Lorraine was able to breathe life in to the dragon with the flames radiating from his mouth.”

It was such a treat to bring joy to Marcia’s husband, as creating with a passion of purpose is one of my greatest joys.
In closing, I hope you will be inspired to apply my techniques to your own creations. For more instructions, please consider my upcoming webinars and workshops. If you would like a commissioned piece for YOUR special someone, please contact me.

Here is where I purchased the dragon scales.

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Photographs on this site are property of Calico Horses © and may not be reproduced in any form without written permission of Lorraine Turner.

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