A child’s stories and musings should never be forgotten, but it’s often hard to manage and store years of your child’s work without having it just sit in the basement. Nobody is going to see it or appreciate it there.
Wendy Ellertson’s Leather Dragon Book gives you an opportunity to not just keep your child’s stories, but show them off. Let’s be honest, who isn’t going to want to look inside a leather book shaped like a dragon? Even non-mythical stories can find a fitting home within the pages. It’s just that cool.
Still with us? I thought so. See our captivating interview with Wendy, where we discuss her leather dragon books in more detail, below:
Q: How did you come up with the idea of combining this concept of dragons and literature? A brilliant idea, if I might add.
A: Seemed like a logical connection… for what are dragons but story creatures? Dragons
have always captured the imagination of humans. They have certainly filled my dreams as they
have for myriad of writers, storytellers and artists across the world.
Q: How long does it take to create a Leather dragon artist book, from start to finish? What is the process?
A: I’ve never actually timed myself… especially since I tend to do them in stages. The actual process:
1– Create the wire armature (I use Almaloy Armature Wire in various thicknesses…main body is 1/4″ thick wire)
2– Sculpt head using Aves Apoxy Sculpt embedding glass or acrylic eyes.
3– After Apoxy Sculpt has hardened (one day), I wrap the head and tail with leather which also stabilizes the wire support for the wings.
4– Cut out leather wings, sculpt them attaching them to artist paper in chosen color. Let dry.
5– Using overlap of top edge of wings and extra leather, adhere wings to wire wing armature and attach via glue and stitching to “belly” of dragon.
6– Cut out dragon book wing pages from 16″ x 20″ paper (made from Gampi fibers) – Usually 4 which allows for 12 pages with text. More if needed. Also cut some a couple sheets into 8.5 x 10″ pages for printing title and text of story.
7– “Age” the Kitakata papers…. involves cooking on my stove top with various teas, then “frying” on bottom of oven shelf to dry.
8– Stitch book together, burn edges and glue onto leather wings and body.
9– Choose computer font and size for title and song. Print onto aged Kitakata sheets.
10– Cut out words and/or phrases and singe the edges
11– Glue words onto pages. With ink delineate the wing spokes.
12– Add paint (acrylic) to wings, tail and pages (usually painting with my fingers).
Q: What types of stories do you most often get asked to write for this commission?
A: Most people choose a brief story which involves a youth reading a book and looking up and seeing a dragon and asking to join the dragon… they are easily personalized to mention the name of an individual and or change the scene to rural, urban, or seaside. One couple asked me to fill the pages with their favorite song. I’m always open to a story written by a customer.
Q: What are some tips/advice you would give to someone looking to commission this work?
A: Think about whether you would like to create the story, or see the text of one I have written and ask me to personalize with setting, names etc. Decide preference for colors of the dragon – reds, greens, blues, browns? And size… I tend to make the large dragon book with a wingspread of about 24″ (larger is possible but creates some problems… smaller is always possible. I make small dragon books which can “perch” or “fly” with an 8-10″ wingspread – which a customer can write in)… or if the customer is REALLY a dragon lover – consider commissioning one of my “Great Book of Dragon Names” with 480+ alphabetized proper names of dragons from myth, legend, movies, books, web games etc. … names printed in various fonts and each individually tipped in… needless to say… this is a more ambitious project, takes longer, and is more expensive than the story books… but has created some wonderful times for customers and their dragon loving friends.
Q: There are many different types of dragons. I know that you have a version of this book that contains over 400 actual names for dragons. What is your favorite name and type of dragon and why?
A: I’m careful not to show favoritism… Just as with people, I love diversity in size, shape, and personality. It’s one of the awesome aspects of dragons – they can look however you or they wish. When creating the books, I have a preference for dragons with wings (for obvious reasons), but when sculpting enjoy letting the dragons emerge as they see fit… with wings or not, heads large or small, bodies lean and elegant or sturdy, friendly , mischievous, or a bit fearsome. I love playing with themes or incorporating items which customers have collected. A ten foot leather dragon’s belly was made from textiles the customers had collected in the Far East – the dragon was designed to attach to a metal spiral staircase in the “dragon” corner of their home. Not long ago, I had fun creating a dragon librarian and rider duo called “Pagaente and Roland” – The dragon held miniature illustrated books between its spokes and on it chest. (I’ve done a lot of thinking of how books might arrive in areas where children don’t have access to libraries and have created quite a few traveling librarians.) I’m always eager to see who are the next creatures who will emerge in the studio… and to “listen” to the stories they tell.