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Ramble: "Dragon Tender" How A Project Comes Into Being.

02-14-05: Dragon Tenders Index

The Dragon Tenders project was made of different
elements. This page has links to the demos where these
elements were reviewed.

For those who are new to clay, to building mini
scenes, new to Raising Cane, there's some thoughts I'd
like to share with you.

When I made the separate components to this scene I
didn't have anything particular in mind other than
making a zebra cane or showing how to do wood grain. I
do demos and set aside what I made as examples of a
technique. These pile up.

There's experiments that went wonky so there's color
coded piles of canes and scraps and that's what made
the green first layer of the dragon.

The idea for the dragon came up because at the time
the list was discussing dragons. If memory serves me
correctly, there was a short order for a dragon to be
done in demo.

It was in demo when I made effort to recapture the
feather cane, that remains elusive, and the results of
the experimentation went into making the dragon's
wings. The wings are hardly noticeable with all the
figures around it, but I know the wings are there,
blending into the wood grain. Part of this dragon's

Then in demo I reviewed sculpting bodies. Each time
I'd continue the review there were new ClayMates who
wanted to see the start of the process. I ended up
with four bodies, all wrapped in plastic like they
were stand ins for CSI.

The cane designs, the nude bodies, the topic of the
dragon, none of these were my ideas. I'm just
following short orders in demo.

One thing I did want to do with my dragon is to
capture a reptile feel. I wanted to have the Dragon to
look like it could run fast, leap quickly, it still
needs "grabby hands". I wanted it to look like it was
resting and then began to rear up to take a look at
something, with that cool reptile way of asking "Do I
eat you or do you eat me?" My neighbor from Uganda,
Jollie, said "It really looks like it would bite me if
I got close to it." Now that's a positive response. I
wanted the dragon's strength to be suggested rather
than shown.

After the dragon was created I thought, scales. It
needs scales. But what I had was Holly Leaf, wood
grain, flower petals. Then I thought why can't this
dragon have those things as scales? The canes are made
after all. But what would the story be behind it?

Then the idea came to me. This dragon can be invisible
in a forest. Invisible so well that its friends would
think it was gone. What would happen if its friends
"found" it again, when it wasn't really gone in the
first place? It's sort of how love goes missing when
folks are busy, when they "find" the love again they
are all happy. It never was missing, it just was

Then I thought how would I feel if a friend of mine
showed up when I thought it was missing? I'd be so
happy. I'd be relieved. How would I feel if my pals
were relieved? I'd be happy for them. What do we do
when we're happy and relieved? We share the feelings,
we chat happily, laugh, sigh with relief, feel
compassion for our pals. So That's what I aimed for
with the posture and poses of the figures.

I always had a desire to do wings differently than
what we are normally used to. So I thought I'll do
wings of Zebra, Tiger, Leopard and Flower Petals. The
cane that was made in demo became their clothing as
well as their wings.

Remember when I mentioned that I wanted to push past
my own inhibitions? That I found myself becoming
conservative because the demos were for teaching? That
I found myself not tapping what meant something to me?

This is why this Dragon Tenders came into being. It
wasn't planned from the beginning. It became what it
is by using what was made in demo and then turning the
project into something that allowed me to express

Now many of you have cane experiments, scrap and trim,
bodies you started. Now you are wondering what on
Earth are you going to do with them? I say take all of
them, add them together. The canes you made, the
colors and designs you used pleased you, so why
wouldn't those canes make good covers for your

There's some feeling inside of you that needs
expressing. For me it was one of friendship. Recently
I've been feeling a greater appreciation for the
friends who have been in my life for decades and had a
luncheon inviting the women who have been my close
friends for over 30 years. When they showed up it was
as if no time had passed with us, just catch up
details, seeing pictures and videos of our grown
children and grandchildren. But I felt like that
figure hugging the Dragon's head. I was so relieved
they are still part of my life. I wanted to cherish
them as much as I could, while I can.

There's feelings we have that are universally true. A
couple holding hands means closeness in any country,
during any time in history. I saw a picture of two
Masai tribes people, a young man and a young woman,
they were walking in the African savanna, holding
hands by linking their little fingers. It was so
sweet. So immediately understandable. It touches the
heart for it is an expression of something heartfelt.

To create a scene that will touch the heart of the
viewer it is important to reach inside of yourself,
find the topic that touches your heart, let that be
your guide to building a scene.

But the only trick I have is I made canes that please
me, use colors that make me happy, have "spare bodies"
laying around, so when an idea strikes me I can slap
the different elements together and get a scene that
looks like there was a plan to it.

Now what I need to do is smooth the exposed skin area
that got mashed a bit in the posing process. Do some
face work, get in the eyes. Detail the hands so they
have fingers, do some toes. Then the whole thing goes
into the oven. If I do the refining work now it'll
save me time afterward, otherwise I'll have to file
and sand and do TLS Spackle work and I'm not rushing
this thing. It's taken over 6 months of creating the
separate parts that I can take time to do the detail
work. That's something you can do with polymer clay
that you cannot do with any other media.

The last thing I'd like to share is don't be afraid of
TIME. "Oh it's going to take so long to learn how to
do canes.", "Oh it's going to take a long time to
learn how to sculpt."

Are you late for a hot date? What's the rush? Do we
have a deadline as to when we're to master the skill
set we are facing? Is someone standing behind you with
a stop watch saying, "When are you going to get good
at this so we can sell this junk and at least make some
money back on the investment?" If so, tell them to put
down that stop watch and take a turn at it themselves
and they'll shut up.

This ain't instant noodles. It's more like pulling off
a holiday dinner on your own. It takes time, planning,
prep work, prioritization and patience.

This dragon scene is an example of just putzing along,
making this and that and then slapping it all together
once an idea hits home.

Take your time, there's no deadline except in your own
head, be as patient with yourself as you would to
anyone learning a new thing under your care.

Read that last paragraph again. Thanks.

You would be patient, kind, nurturing, encouraging and
hopeful to anyone you're teaching something to. Well
that person is you.

Hug yourself like that relieved Zebra Man hugs the
Dragon. Love yourself enough to make the time sweet as
you learn how to get a grip on your clay.

One can learn the craft of a medium in "X" amount of
time. There are a limited amount of colors, a limited
amount of things you can do with those colors. Each
medium has its limitations, like the walls of a play
pen, it keeps us within the boundaries of what is

Now what we do is up to us. Inside the playpen of the
limits of polymer clay what fancy dance are you
wanting to do? How much do you love the topic so the
practice time you must go through is the happiest time
in your life?

That's the trick of it. For you will do things out of
love that you wouldn't do in your right mind. Stand
out in the rain and rend your T shirt bellowing

CUE: Movie buffs snarf soda on keyboards 


Love what you create isn't just some catchy jingle
thunked up in CITY-Central. It's a way of approaching
everything we do. Nothing is done in a hurry,
resented, with rolling eyes and audible sighs. Not
peeling a potato, changing a diaper on young or old,
taking out the trash. All onerous chores can be
breezed through if it is done as an action of love.

Now take that action of love and turn it to something
that's not smelly or difficult. Like Polymer Clay...
who'd a thunk?

Create what you love, love what you create. No matter
what your skill set is, early works are prized Grandma
Moses Primitive artworks. It's not the skill set
that's makes an effort ART, it is the expression that
comes from within a human.

This is where I will differ from any other art teacher
you'll encounter. I say "We Got To Be Sassy!" We have
to take time out and ask ourselves what do we want to
say? We got to just listen to our own sensibilities as
to what colors, designs and topics we will explore. We
can't feel guilty in indulging ourselves totally. It's
a necessary process in becoming the artist all of you
have as a right.

Art is a right. We got the right to express ourselves.
We got a right to reach out to others and make them go
"Whoa" or "Wowsers". What gets said resides in all of

Need help in a technical wrinkle, hollar out. I'll be
here with you wandering around in my own selfish
artist's head space, encouraging you to do the same.

rabble rouser me




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