I found a nice looking mug at a thrift store nearby and had another go at a dragonskin mug. It had a broken handle that looked like it had been hot-glued back on, but I figured it would hold (and I’d be reinforcing it plenty with pistachio shells, hot glue, and polyurethane). I used a mug so that it would hold liquid normally and would be food safe.
Then I continued building up overlapping layers of shells
The handle just required some creative layering, but worked essentially the same. I brought the shell layers all the way up the handle, but left space around the lip for ‘gems’ to top off the shells and for lip space.
Base-coat everything with black acrylic paint. I decided against trying to spray paint it, as I didn’t want to get spray paint where I wanted to leave the normal colors of the mug (and also so I wouldn’t have to try and seal that paint, which didn’t work out well last time).
With everything based black, I layered up progressively lighter mixtures of a dark green and black. I did this until I was using the dark green mixed with a grey instead of a black as the final highlighting.
For a cool acidic effect, I took a neon green and lightly splattered it over the shells by lightly pulling back the bristles and letting go. The acid breath of this dragon left plenty of little droplets…
To finish painting the scales, I tipped every shell with that same neon green.
To compliment the green I chose to do a red gem this time. I copied this gem painting tutorial. Basically it is just layering up progressively lighter shades to simulate a gemstone, starting with a 3 to 1 mix of your base color and black. Eventually finishing it off with a 3 to 1 mix of the color and white, and topping it off with a white glare mark.
I wanted to try out a 3D paint tube I got on clearance to close off the top part of the gem, but it didn’t really make a noticeable change.
With the painting done, now all that was left was to seal the paint against spills, peeling, and chipping. I did that by brushing on two coats of water-based polyurethane. Make sure your paint is completely dry, or this will make it run.