Dragon Exhibit 2018

Dragon Exhibits Natural History Museum

Dragons at the Museum!

On October 20, 2018 we will be at the Natural History Museum Smithsonian in Martinsville VA with our booth and exhibit. The exhibit will be a sculpted life size 5 foot dragon head, seamlessly combined with an 18 foot mural of the dragon's body. The tail will be sculpted to finish the piece! We think it will make a great photo opportunity for festival goers!


The frame of the dragon is being welded and designed by Michael Buckingham using a small model sculpted by J. Leigh. The sculpted original model was scanned by Dr Bernard Means from the Virtual Creation Lab in Richmond where he is a Instructor of Anthropology. Bernard was kind enough to hold a 3d imaging class and scanned this and several other dragon heads for me! You can see in the above picture digitally building the frame inside of the mini model which was then scaled to the dimensions of the actual project.


The body or mural for this project will be done by David Husser. David is a local artist and friend who graciously agreed to design and create a digital image of the dragon body and background scene to accompany the head and tail which will be sculpted by J. Leigh. David is skilled in sculpting as well and will play a supporting role in the sculpting or detail work process. We are super happy to have him on board!


J. Leigh will be sculpting the head and tail of the dragon. Her head will come out from the mural roughly 5', we included a decent amount of neck into the sculpture to get those tiny details we hope to show you. The tail will come out from the opposite end (of course) of the mural making roughly a 30' dragon.


All this is possible because Dr DB Poli and Lisa Stoneman's work on the myths of dragons and how they relate to plant fossils from the carboniferous era. We hope to compliment their work and bring their research to life! The first dragon is to get you all thinking of dragons in relation to botany. She will be a forest dragon that we will use bark, trees, and other aspects of the forest you would see today. The second dragon project will be based directly on their work and publications. It will in contrast be streamlined and while being made from renderings of actual fossils will look nothing like the forest of the world today!

This installation will also be seen in January 2020 at the Olin Gallery, located in Salem Virginia at Roanoke College. It will stay at the college gallery for roughly a month then be moved to the museum for the Dragon Festival!
So if you can't make the festival you still have plenty of time and opportunity to see this exhibit!

Meet the people involved in the dragon project

J. Leigh

Project lead/Artist

J. Leigh is a self taught potter and sculptor.  With 25 years experience in sculpting.  For 20 years it was all clay sculptures, in the past 5 years recycled material sculptures have been the focus, though she still does sculptures on pottery. 

For 4 years she has been the owner, operator and artist for The Color of Mud.  

David Husser


David Husser is a mostly self-taught artist, utilizing many media to explore his love for fantasy and science fiction. For the last few decades, his main artistic outlet has been painting miniature soldiers for table-top games such as Warhammer 40k, WARMACHINE, and Confrontation. In addition to his personal collection, he has painted models for private collections all around the world, with pieces featured in White Dwarf magazine and the 2016 documentary The Dwarvenaut.

Most recently, he has returned to school pursuing a Major in Game Art and Development from Southern New Hampshire University. He is currently pursuing several personal sculpting and painting projects as well as contributing creatively to projects at The Color of Mud studio. Together, they will have several installations on display during the Virginia Museum of Natural History’s Dragon Festival.


Michael Buckingham

Technical Guy

Mike is our go to technical guy, husband extraordinaire, he is also our engineer and welding guy. OK so Mike is the go to guy for all the things. He doesn’t Art but he does everything else us artists need to accomplish the things.