Dragon Head and Mural Project


Dragons at the Museum!

On October 20, 2018 we premiered our first dragon of two at the Natural History Museum Smithsonian in Martinsville VA. The exhibit was a sculpted life size 5 foot dragon head, seamlessly combined with an 18 foot mural of the dragon’s body. The tail was sculpted to finish the piece! It made a great photo opportunity for Dragon Festival goers!

October 15-16, 2021 our Dragon Head and Mural as well as our 37FT Dragon will be on display for the Virginia Natural History Museum’s Dragon Festival.

The frame of the dragon was welded and designed by Michael Buckingham using a small model sculpted by me, J. Leigh (Jennifer Buckingham). The sculpted original model was scanned by Dr. Bernard Means from the Virtual Creation Lab in Richmond where he is an 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 was created 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 were sculpted by J. Leigh. David is skilled in model painting and took on the painting of the sculpted head/tail. We are super happy to have him on board!

Leigh sculpted the head and tail of the dragon. Her head comes 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 comes 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 complement 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 (Tiamat) 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 (Tiamat) will also be seen in January until March 2020 at the Olin Gallery, located in Salem Virginia at the Roanoke College. It will then make an appearance at the museum for the Dragon Festival!

Meet the people involved in the dragon project

J. Leigh
(Jennifer Buckingham)

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 11 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.