Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Modding Part 2 - The Tail

It has taken awhile...

to get back in here.

Getting started after the head modification.

I have lots of different parts and pieces from all of the dolls I have made, so deciding on what to use with the dragon head, that is now Draken, it was time to chose a body and such.  Yes, I have the dragon arms and legs from the CAM kit.  I am not going to use them here.  Instead, Draken's body is a Draculaura body and the hands are from an Abbey.  This is because, Abbey is on her way to becoming Marie Antoinette, and her hands didn't work for that... but they sure look good on Draken.

This is all part of the appeal of modding these dolls.  Even the parts that don't fit perfectly can be made to fit. You can swap and change things around until you are happy with the result.  

So, the first questions I ask myself are these:

1. What kind of dragon is Draken?  (besides female)

2.  What color or colors is Draken?

3.  What kind of tail does Draken have?

Draken is a mountain dragon, and she is going to be black and violet in color.

Now, here comes the tail.

To make her tail, I am using:

                                         1. Wire - galvanized 20 gauge  (.88mm)
                                         2. Wire cutters
                                         3. Needle nose pliers
                                         4. Magic Sculpt - but you can use Sculpy or an air dry clay
                                         5. Thread - heavy  
                                         6. Polyester batting -
                                             you can also use fiberfill, but that is harder to use
                                         7. 2 Way Stretch Fabric and matching sewing thread
                                         8. Fabric glue
                                         9. Mohair or feathers
                                       10. Paint and sealer

Decide what shape you want for the tip of the tail, bend it with the pliers.

Decide how long you want the tail, triple that and then add an inch or 3cm.

Begin wrapping the wire beyond the tail tip around itself.  You want 3 ply of wire when you are done.

Compress the wires at the end, leaving the inch of single wire at the end.

Cover the tail tip with Magic Sculpt or clay of some kind.  If you use Sculpy, you can bake it in your oven- be sure it is baked well so it is hard.

Next, cover the other end with Magic Sculpt.

 This tail is being made in a way so that it can be posed.  Using 3 plys of wire makes it stronger and will allow someone to bend the tail lots of times without fear of it breaking.

The next step is to paint the tail tip and the end that will be close to the body.

I start with green and thin it with flat sealer.  Water does not adhere like the sealer.  If you thin with water, the paint will not bond well with the surface.

While it is unlikely that one will be able to see this part when I am finished, I am painting it just in case any of it does show.  All but the part that will be glued to the body- no paint there.

Next is a thin coat of the violet.  Again, mixed with flat sealer.  I do not want this to look like plastic - so I will not be painting it all the same - notice there is more paint in some places than in others.  I will continue to build my color.

Violet over the green.

I have added the blue wash over the other 2 colors.  The tail tip is starting to have some depth.

I will continue painting, but with smaller brushes to add the detail I desire. I will add black to my palette to mix in with the other colors.  Contrast adds to the realism of a fantasy.

When I shaped the Magic Sculpt over the wire, I used my fingers and some small clay tools to add details.  I did not put details everywhere.  What details I have put into the clay I have used as a place to draw details from with my paint. 
The under side of the tail tip I wanted to look and feel like the under side of  your foot. Soft and fleshy looking.  I always finish painting every side of a sculpture- even the parts you may not see.  In this case, it is likely that one will see under her tail- so it is very important to think about what that looks and feels like.

Next Step:  Wrapping the Tail

                                                   1. Carpet Thread
                                                   2. Quilt Tie Thread
                                                   3. Regular All Purpose sewing thread

You will need quilt tying thread or better for this- regular sewing thread tends to break when you try to tie it off here.  Carpet or quilt thread will make the job easier for you.

Cut at least 4 pieces of thread and have them ready to go.

Cut a strip of quilt batting about 1.50 inches or 3.5cm wide.

Begin wrapping it at the tail tip.

Tie off the first stage in your wrapping.

Continue wrapping and tying the tail.

Trim the threads you have tied.

Use fabric glue on the tail tip and base to hold the batting in place.

I am using a 2 way stretch jersey fabric.

I am using a ladder stitch to close the fabric around the tail.  You might be tempted to use glue- don't do it.  It will not do a good job and it will not move with the fabric and tail the way the thread will.  Take the time to sew this and you won't regret it.

Ladder Stitch

I am stopping here.  The rest of the tail and painting will follow in the next post. 

Don't forget, leave a comment, get another chance to win Bitty Bat :)


  1. I love how you made the tail! I probably would have just made the whole thing with clay, so cool! :)

  2. Hello from Spain: Congratulations to create that queue. Awesome!. Keep in touch.

  3. Your creativity never ceases to amaze me, PB. I'm really looking forward to see Draken completed :) Thank you for such a detailed tutorial!

  4. Aside from watching Draken evolve, I love Bitty Bat.

  5. Cute!
    The tail looks much better after a few layers of paint :)