How I Make my Dragons


I am often asked how my dragons are made. Folks also want to know how long it takes to make one. I’ll answer the latter question first. Making a dragon takes between 10-12 hours depending on its size and complexity. Once it’s made it must dry very slowly or it will crack–at least 2 weeks, most of the time under plastic. Then it is fired once, glazed and then fired again. So the entire process usually takes at least 3 weeks.

As for how I make them, I’ve taken photos of my process and will go through it step-by-step. I will show how I make a dragon teapot but the process is the same for all my dragons.

Melinda O’Malley

Melinda discovered she enjoyed working with clay when she served as nurse at her children’s school camps and assisted with pottery classes there. She took a year of ceramics at Shoreline Community College and was able to build a studio at home.

She makes some traditional pottery but specializes in sculpting dragons. Most of her dragons have a job, such as serving tea, hiding treasures, or holding flowers. Each dragon takes about a month to make from start to finish. 

Melinda has always loved fantasy, especially dragons. The dragon appeals to her because of its strength, but she also endows them with personality, warmth, and playfulness.  


A Step-By-Step Process For A Teapot

Step 1: The body and neck are thrown on the wheel.

Step 2: The head is sculpted and hollowed out.

Step 3: The head is put back together and holes are made through the nostrils for the tea to
pour. The other components are assembled.

Step 4: The body is placed on a flat surface while still slightly damp to flatten the bottom
for sitting. A hole is made in the top for the opening and a lid was thrown on the
wheel (previous photo). I used the orange cap as a guide for both the opening and
the lid. The hole in the front was created when the body was thrown.

Step 5: Some of the components are placed on the body.

Step 6: And then I begin the job of scaling. I cut a roll of clay into diagonal pieces and smash
them before placing them on the dragon. I begin at the back and work forward.

Step 7: When the scaling is done, the piece is sponged off during the time it is drying to eliminate rough spots and to refine the details.

Step 8: After drying completely for at least 2 weeks, the dragon is fired to 1926° F over 13 hours. When it is done, it has changed color and is much less fragile than when it went into the kiln. This is called bisque and it is very porous at this stage.

Step 9:  Glazing is next. The clay’s porosity is really important because the piece will soak up glaze like a sponge.

Step 10: Once glazed, the piece is fired again to 2165° F. During this firing the glaze components melt to create the color and the glassy surface. 

And now I have a functional dragon teapot.