Here Be Dragons (Artist’s Way Week 7)

Dragon 1

Don’t be scared. You are looking at my latest project: dragon masks that I made for my church’s birthday celebration. It is tradition to mark the occasion with a religious pageant depicting portions of the book of Revelation. When I decided to direct this year’s pageant, I knew that I wanted to portray the dragon from Chapter 12.

But how could I depict something that fantastical and frightening in a live performance? I didn’t want it to look silly, but also didn’t want to break the bank. And I needed seven dragon heads. Seven! Why couldn’t it be a one or even two headed dragon? I turned to Pinterest for help. I love searching through this online pin board and collecting compelling ideas. I almost always find treasure buried in the myriad images. This time, Wintercroft was my choice gem.

This company designs and sells beautiful, affordable mask templates that you can download, print, and then construct using simple, recycled materials. Eco-friendly and user-friendly? Count me in! As soon as I saw the dragon template, I completely lit up and thought, “Eureka! That’s exactly what I want.”

Now, here’s the thing. I’ve never made a mask before. Not to mention seven masks all consisting of twenty-three pieces. Each. And even with the very simple instructions, there was this nagging part of me that said I was crazy. The church has simpler versions of dragon heads in storage, it said. Why not use those? It would save a lot of time and effort. Why bother taking this on?

I hate that part of me.

It’s the part with the ever-present sneer. The part that’s always telling me that I shouldn’t try things if I might fail. And I hate how often I listen. But not this time.

Dragon 5This time, true to the focus of Week 7 of the Artist’s Way, I decided to take a risk. Not only did I make the choice to go for it, but I did it gently. I committed myself to the mask-making project and set myself the goal of making seven dragon head masks. But I also allowed myself to make lower tiered goals, in case it wound up being too much. If seven heads weren’t reasonable–and they might not have been, I had no idea what I was getting into–I could look into making three or four and coming up with simpler options for the remaining heads–such as using the pieces already available from previous pageants. If even that was too much, I could just make one “master” dragon head mask and do something else for the rest. Besides giving myself different levels of goals, I also asked for help.

And I got it.

I had cardboard donations by the bagful and cheerful teams of volunteers came to my house to cut, paste, re-paste, score, and fold cardboard for hours. They did most of the prep on the pieces, and then I put them together. Still more volunteers came and played with my daughter so I could try my hand at spray painting for the first time.

There were plenty of hiccups. Glue that didn’t stick well enough. Realizing that I had actually gotten people to fold the pieces backwards, so the first mask was technically inside out. A paint can that took five people and some online research to figure out how to get it to spray. More glue not sticking the way it was supposed to. Hot glue burns.

But there were far more successes than snags. In fact, some of the snags turned out to be Dragon 3successes. Making the masks inside-out–at least from the way the instructions said–was actually better because they were more durable that way. And I got to have some good laughs with friends  and strangers alike as we problem-solved.

We we wound up with seven exciting, fire-red dragon masks.

I’m glad I took the risk. I’m glad I took the time. I’m glad I asked for help. The dragon was a huge hit at the pageant, and my idea to have it played by three people wearing masks and holding the remaining four worked beautifully. (Photos of the masks in action later).

This risk was a gift and it will keep giving. The church now has seven cool masks to use in future years. I have new mask-building and spray-painting skills and a new level of confidence in myself. I’m already day dreaming of making more Wintercroft masks for future Halloween extravaganza’s and plays and church pageants. I love the idea of making some with my daughter one day. And I just might have the wherewithal to take another gentle, creative risk not too  far down the road, come hell, high water, or even dragons.

Dragon 2



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