Make a fantasy dragon journal
Craft artist of all things mythical and mystical, Heather Robertson has created this amazing journal using Katy Sue dragon moulds. Watch Heather's video and follow the instructions to make your own – a journal that guarantees to fiercely protect your secrets (or just somewhere fun to write your shopping list!).
WATCH: Dragon Journal by Heather Robertson
Moulds and materials to make the journal:
• 6 inch square plain journal
• Glue stick, strong universal adhesive and craft glue
• Small stick-on velcro pads
• UV resin and lamp (or, gloss varnish or clear nail polish)
• Acrylic and watercolour paints and brushes
• Brown ink pad and distress pad (or brown acrylic paint)
• Charms, ribbons and embellishments
Step 1 – Cover book in fabric
To cover the 6 inch square journal with fabric Heather has used tea stained muslin, but any thin natural fibre fabric will work.
What you'll need to cover your journal:
• Glue Stick
• Fabric measuring 8 inches x 15 inches (cover)
• Fabric measuring 8 inches by 2.5 inches (spine)
• Fabric measuring 12 inches x 3 inches (clasp)
• Scrap Card
• Small Velcro stick on pads
• Strong all-purpose adhesive
Wrap a piece of fabric neatly around the journal ensuring that you have at least an inch all the way around.
Using a glue stick, stick the spine fabric strip to the centre of the large piece of fabric, so that it will run the length of the book spine. Put aside to dry.
To make the book clasp, glue the strip of fabric to a piece of card measuring 6 inches x 2 inches, making sure to stretch out any fabric creases and set aside to dry.
Use a liberal amount of glue stick on the journal cover and stick the fabric cover to journal, stretching out any creases. And repeat on the back of the journal.
Using a sharp pair of scissors trim the fabric at the corners and the spine of the journal, and secure to the inside of the back and front cover with glue. Trim off the excess fabric at the spine and distress by ripping and fraying the fabric with scissors and a needle.
Hide the fabric edges on the inside of the book covers using decorative papers. Heather has used the Digital Distressed Pastel Advertisements which can be downloaded and printed. Measure and cut the paper to size approx. 5.5 inches x 5.75 inches and glue into the back and front covers.
Position the clasp onto the book and attach the Velcro pads to the front of the journal and the clasp. Then using strong universal adhesive stick the clasp to the back of the journal. Leave to dry. The dragon claws will be attached to the front of the clasp once they have been made.
Step 2 – Aging the journal
To give the journal an aged look, use a light brown ink pad and brush to distress the edges of the journal. Heather has used Sepia Archival ink pad. This can also be achieved by dry brushing brown acrylic paint around the edges.
Step 3 – Front dragon skin cover and eye
Lightly dust the Dragon Eyes Mould with cornflour and tap out the excess. Press some Hearty Air Drying Clayinto one side of the mould to create one eye, wrapping it around the edges. Carefully remove from the mould and gently tear of the excess clay so that you have a thin and ragged edge.
Carefully place the eye onto the front of the journal to see if you are happy with the size and direction that the eye is facing, and place to one side.
Measure a piece of card that is slightly smaller than the front and back journal covers. This will be the measuring template for the textured covers.
Roll out some Hearty Air Drying Clay to the approximate size of the journal cover and press into the Dragon Skin Mould that has been lightly dusted with cornflower. Alternatively press the mould onto the rolled-out clay. Using a cutting wheel or a pair of scissors, cut the clay to the desired size for the front cover, making space for the clasp. Press back into the mould to soften the edges, being careful not to stretch it too much.
Check the size against the journal and place the eye on top. Carefully cut around the eye and remove the excess clay from underneath. Join the edges of the eye and skin together wish sausages of clay and disguise the edges by using the Dragon Skin Mould to add texture.
Poke holes into the brow bone above the eye. This is where we will add horns later.
Extra scales can be added to the dragon skin by pressing the Continuous Dragon Scales Mould into the skin.
Create horns for the brow bone by pressing Hearty Air Drying Clay into the tips of the Dragon Claws Mould, and pressing into the holes on the brow bone.
Use the same mould to create the horns for the cheek bone, using part of the fingers as well as the claws.
Roll a sausage of clay and press into the Dragon Skin Mould to create a cheek bone and trim off the excess with scissors. Press in place and hide the joins by using the Dragon Skin Mould to add texture. Add further texture and smooth joins with a clay tool.
Trim the excess clay from the edges of the dragon skin cover if it starts to stretch and become too big, or trim to a more desirable shape. Then soften the edges again by pressing the Dragon Skin Mould into the clay.
Check the fit on the journal.
Note: Making the dragon horns in advance and leaving them to dry will make it easier to secure into place without distorting their shape
Step 4 – Back dragon skin cover
Lightly dust the Dragon Skin Mould with cornflour and tap out the excess. Press a rolled-out piece of Hearty Air Drying Clay into the mould. Gently remove and use the mould to add texture the edges.
Using the template from the front cover trim the clay to fit the back cover. Check that the size is correct then soften the edges with the Dragon Skin Mould.
Use the Continuous Dragon Scales Mould to add extra scales to the skin by pressing it carefully onto the clay.
Add battle scars to the front and back skin by cutting into it with a cutting wheel or knife.
Set aside to dry.
Step 5 – Dragon claw clasp
Lightly dust the Dragon Claws Mould with cornflour and tap out the excess. Press some Hearty Air Drying Clayinto each claw and carefully remove from the mould.
Place each finger onto the clasp and then gently bend each one so that it follows the curve of the clasp, being careful not to distort the shape and texture too much.
Leave to dry on the clasp so that it retains the bent shape.
Step 6 – Painting the dragon skin
Base colour: Once all the clay pieces are dry, paint everything with a base layer of green acrylic paint and leave to dry.
Paint all the claws and horns using black acrylic paint and leave to dry.
Dry brushing: Dry brush the skin using white acrylic paint, so that it picks up all the raised detail and texture in the skin. This will give a nice bright base layer for additional painted colours.
Once dry, dry brush yellow acrylic paint over the white and add different shades of red acrylic paint into all the cuts and scratches. Use a light touch and gradually build up the colour.
Use a little bit of dry brushed red/red orange acrylic paint to add a glow to the brow and cheek bones.
Once dry, add highlights using gold and copper acrylic paint. Use silver acrylic paint to add highlights to the dragon claws and horns.
Aging: Give the skin an aged look by dry brushing some dark brown acrylic paint around the edges of the skin, into the creases and shadows of the eye, brow, and between the claws.
Leave to dry.
Step 7 – Paint the eye
Paint the eye with layers of yellow, orange and red. Heather has used watercolour paints for this. Paint the pupil slit with black acrylic paint and leave to dry.
Once the paint is dry, soften the lines in the eye with a little water and leave to dry.
Step 8 – Gloss the eye
Once the eye is dry, add some gloss and shine to bring it to life!
Heather has used several layers of UV resin to add some gloss and to build up the thickness of the eye.
Pour a little UV resin onto the eye and spread it evenly with the help of a toothpick. Give it a quick cure with a small UV torch and then add another layer of UV resin. Repeat until you have the desired thickness of resin, then cure under a UV lamp until completely set.
Clear nail polish or gloss varnish can also be used instead of UV resin.
Step 9 – Assembly
Once all your pieces are dry, glue everything to your journal using craft glue.
Heather has also added a strip of green ribbon to the spine to compliment the colour of the dragon skin.
Leave to dry.
Step 10 – Finishing touches
Once the journal has been assembled, paint a little extra red acrylic paint into the dragon scars, and dry brush some dark brown acrylic paint around the edges of the skin to add some age and shadow to your journal.
Add charms, bookmark ribbons and tassels to your journal by attaching them to the spiral binding using knots or jump rings.
Enjoy your new journal and let the dragon guard all your secrets!