Twelve-year-old Kerington Franklin, an Aldergrove student at Betty Gilbert Middle School, loves dragons and art – so naturally, crafting pipe-cleaner creatures has been the perfect creative outlet.
“I have always been fascinated about dragons for as long as I can remember,” she told The Star. “In fact, I am interested in many terrifying creatures – for some reason they grab my attention. Most movies that feature a terrifying creature, I’m intrigued by.”
Her mother, Natalie, said she started showing a keen eye for drawing and creating at a young age.
When she was nine-years old, she was making crafts using a rainbow loom and saw a video of someone who made a small dog out of pipe-cleaners.
“I thought, ‘Hey, that’s cool’,” Franklin explained.
She decided to put her own spin on it and created a pipe cleaner dragon. Now, three years later, Franklin said she has far too many to count.
“We have bags and bags of them in our crawl space from my creations over the years,” Franklin said. “My more recent creations are kept in my office.”
Depending on the complexity of the dragon, the process can vary for each creation, but, in general, she starts by choosing what kind of dragon she wants to make.
“Most of my dragons are based on characters in movies or books, but I usually end up modifying them to how I want them to look,” she explained. “Structure-wise, I start with the heads, as making them first will help me determine how big the body will be.”
From there, she works on the body of the dragon, and then the legs; unless, of course, the dragon has wings.
“I complete those before the legs,” she noted for the sake of proportioning and easier access.
After all the body parts are assembled, Franklin begins to put it all together. All the detailed features like teeth, claws, and scales are made individually before they get put in place.
“For my most recent modified King Ghidorah dragon; each individual tooth was made from my 3-D plastic crafting gun,” Franklin said. “Most of my larger dragon creations have armature made from wire to keep them more stable.”
The length of time to complete a project can vary depending on the size and complexity and subject. The most recent one – a yellow hydra half the size of her – took more than a month to complete.
As enticing as it is to profit with her talents, the dragons are not for sale.
“I want to showcase my creations, we have them displayed at home and I love to share my final reveals to friends and family,” Franklin admitted. “I would consider selling some of my smaller dragons, but never my larger ones. They mean too much to me.”
Ultimately, what crafting her work does for her is help battle anxiety.
“I have personally had my struggles with anxiety over the past few years and especially lately with the pandemic,” Franklin admitted. “I have used my ability to create these pieces as a way to escape the stresses around me. I have found that focusing on creating has helped me a lot.”
Franklin is Hollywood-bound after high school. Not to craft pipe-cleaner sculptures, but to learn and work in special effects with Computer Generated Imagery (CGI).
”I watch many animators on YouTube and it really interests me as to what they can make in 2D, I want to be able to create these creatures in 3D and make them come to life on the screen,” the artist explained.
Of course, the best and most priceless part for her throughout the entire process is the grand finale of showing it to her family.
“I don’t let my family see my progress while making these creations – it’s top secret until I’m done because I love to see their reactions when I bring them out,” Franklin said. “That makes it all worth it.”
People can check out more of Franklin’s creations on Instagram.
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