If you know anything about my paper mache art, you know that I like to make trophies.   Not because I approve of animal heads hanging on the wall.    Truth is, I would never kill an animal (not even a dragon) in order to make a decoration out of the head.   I’m sure I’ll get in trouble here, but I’ll say it anyway.    A real animal trophy represents a very one-sided affair.  Humans with their high powered rifles…animals with their….hmmm…..with nothing.   Now, I would feel differently if there was some sort of law that said that you could only hang trophies of animals you killed with your bare hands.    Then I’d be impressed by that bear or lion (or even deer) trophy over the mantle!    But I digress.  Making a trophy allows me to create bigger sized dragons, even close to full sized, without making the entire animal.   Not that I’m opposed to whole dragons.   But making one full dragon would fill my entire studio.  Two, and my house would be full.  Then I’d have to make art in my front yard.   Since I make a lot of trophies I decided to make a post on just that topic.  Here it is.

As I mentioned in another post, the first trophy I ever made was the one pictured below.  I called it “Igba agondray.”  I made it because I wanted a mother for the very first dragon I made, little “Punk.”  I displayed them together in the little apartment I rented near the Seattle zoo many years ago.   It is a really large dragon head.  And heavy.  I made the teeth out of “baker’s clay”, flour, salt, and water, baked until they split.  Then I covered them with clear casting resin (more about that later).  They looked great, but weighed a ton.

Paper mache Igbay Agondray

Paper Mache "punk" dragon

Punk Dragon

After that I made a lot of dragon trophies that just hung on the wall.   Here is a sample of a very early trophy.  They were fairly easy to make.  I couldn’t make them fast enough to sell at the art fairs I attended.

paper mache dragon head

My trophies got more sophisticated over time.  I really like the one below.    This was the trophy in my first time-lapse trophy video.   You can see it here if you want (although it’s really hard to watch.  Very grainy)(but the music is nice).

Paper Mache Dragon Trophy

I didn’t just make dragon heads.  Check out this crazy beast!  I’m talking about the head on the wall.   This was circa 1980-ish.  I have no idea what happened to this thing.  It was actually pretty cool.   This photo is really faded.  It was very colorful.  Lots of colored washes.

Crazy paper mache trophy

Then there is the occasional offensive trophy.  Can’t help it.   It has to be done.

paper mache baby on a plaque


After a while I started using wooden plaques with my trophies.   I think it looks better overall.  I buy these plaques online from various taxidermy stores.   Below is “Maleficent” from Disney’s classic movie, “Sleeping Beauty.”   I made this as a commission for a Disney fan.    You can read more about that in this blog post.    Actually, this blog post provided my first viral internet experience.   This post got passed around the world, several times over.   It was re-posted thousands of times.   I got hundreds of requests to buy her.  But I only made one.   I never make duplicate commissions.   It is a promise I make to my patrons, that if they buy a piece of my art, it will be unique.    Here is Maleficent with the l.e.d. lights turned off.

Paper Machemaleficent- lights off -dan reeder

Here she is with her lights turned on .

Paper Mache Maleficent-Dan Reeder

The attention Malecifent received did convince me to make her “son”, a variation on the theme.  Below is “Son of Maleficent”, first with the lights off, then with the lights on.

Paper mache Son of Maleficent

Paper mache son of Maleficent-eyes on

Funny thing….. Even though I made the son more fierce, with more horns, and many more led lights than his mother, it wasn’t nearly as popular.   People liked him, but there wasn’t the same frenzy surrounding his making.   Personally, I like him better than his mother.  Such is life.


Then there is the trophy whose video went truly viral in December of this last year (2014).  The “reach” of that video on Facebook hit over a hundred million per week for a month!  Bizarre.   I taught math for many years.   I taught many lessons on “geometric” growth.   This would have been a great example.  I traced the beginnings of the explosion to just a few people sharing with their friends on Facebook, who shared with their friends, etc., until I was getting emails from relatives in Austria saying that they’d just watched my video.  It was unbelievable.   All that has died down.  I am very relieved.   Between the hundreds of emails and messages I didn’t have time to do any art.   If you are the one person on the planet who didn’t see that video, and you want to see what all the fuss was about, then you can watch it here.   I’m not sure what pushed this video over the top.   Maybe it was Eddie making a cameo appearance at the end. Or maybe it was the music.  People seemed to like both.

Paper mache dragon trophy-red

The video that SHOULD have gone viral is of the trophy below, my paper mache Zombie dragon.  It is a much more interesting trophy I think.

paper mache Zombie Dragon-

I am particularly proud of the muscles showing through the neck.

paper mache sinew

While I’m a bit disappointed with this side of the trophy.

Zombie paper mache dragon- side2

If I had it to do over, I would have make him much more radically rotten.   Originally I wanted to maintain enough of the dragon to show what it might have looked like while alive.   So I left this side much less dead.   It just didn’t work.   But it was too late to fix once it was done.   I also have to say that the color scheme made him look much more pretty than ghostly and rotten.   I would change that as well.    What is the lesson here children?   What’s alive should look alive and what’s dead should look very dead.  If you want to see the time-lapse video of this dragon, click here.

Someone recently asked me, “What is your favorite project?”   My answer is always, “The one I finished last.”   This is my most recent trophy.   It is my Paper Mache Drogon- Young Adult Version.   So it’s my favorite paper mache dragon trophy to date.   But I just know that the next trophy will be even better! (It really will be.  Trust me.)

paper mache Drogon Sometimes I add “drool” to a project.   It is a really messy process, and dangerous.   It will also stink for a good month after it’s applied.   I use “clear casting” resin.   It is basically liquid plastic.  You need a catalyst to start the reaction.  This is the really dangerous stuff.  I’ve heard that it will blind you if you get it into your eyes, whether you get prompt medical attention or not.  That’s probably not true.  But it sure sounds dramatic.  I wear eye protection.  And I work outdoors.    I always add much more catalyst than the directions demand.    Then the resin will stay liquid for about ten minutes.  Then it will quickly start to congeal and the drips will begin to harden.   During this hardening, too much resin will slowly drip off.  Too little and it won’t drip enough.   But if it’s just right, you get beautiful little drips of drool.

Paper Mache Drogon- drool