Friday, July 21, 2017

We Made A Figment Rocking Horse! Er... Rocking Dragon?

After John knocked out that Death Star shelf last month in just 2 days, he decided to take on another quick little woodworking project.

Over two grueling weeks later, and our "quick," not-so-little project is finally - FINALLY - done. It's more of a prototype, really, since of course we realized all sorts of ways to improve and speed up the process *after* the fact, but it's done and cute and delightfully rainbow-licious and did I mention it's finally done?

So without further ado, here 'tis:


Our Figment Rocker!

(EEEEEE!)


We've wanted to make another rocker since the AT-AT, but figuring out something fun and unique while still being relatively simple was tricky. In the end John came up with the idea (If you're new here, John cosplays an amazing Dreamfinder, and we sculpted our own Figment), which I then sketched out:


From there we enlarged it with a projector so I could trace a full-size version:
 

Next we figured out the layers and thickness so I could make all the paper templates.
 
 
Then I traced the templates onto 3/4" MDF:

 

... and sent John out to the garage to start cutting.

John works fast, so in almost no time he had the basic shapes down:

You can see we started with plywood rails in a completely different position - but they were much too narrow, so the whole thing was a tipping danger. (Thinking in 3D is HARD, y'all.)


Next John routed all the edges to give them that soft rounded look:

He also went on to add sturdier, wider MDF rails.

At this point we were ready for test riders, so we could finalize the foot and seat placement. Enter our friends' trio of children, who conveniently come in sizes Small, Tiny, and Extra Adorable. (AKA, ages 7, 5, and 3.) 

It was pretty exciting to see how thrilled the kids were, eagerly queuing up and arguing over who got to ride next for the 3rd and 4th times. While we adults stood around debating measurements and foot peg placements, little Caleb here just kept happily rocking away...

SO CUTE. 
(The kids are all fascinated by John, of course.)

As you can see the tail spike in the back was a definite poking hazard [snerk], so the final addition was a seat back along with the seat and foot pegs:


At this point we figured we were pretty much done, because back then we were young and naive and thought painting the rocker would be a breeze. 

IT WAS NOT. 

Suffice to say that paint job would go on to inspire a lot of "imaginative" cursing on my part, and I rage quit at least... let's see... twice?

If we were to do this again I would paint the pieces BEFORE assembly, since the hardest part was reaching all the nooks and crannies around the wings, horns, legs, etc. I would also use something better than cheap 88 cent craft paints, since every color other than the purple and blue covered about as well as weak tea, and required upwards of 5 coats. [whimper]

There's also the issue of MDF edges swelling and getting insanely rough after the first coat of primer, requiring all the sanding. All of it.

Again, hindsight being what it is, we NOW know that it's essential to prime MDF with BIN shellac - a non-water-based primer - to prevent swelling. Follow that up with a light sanding, and you're good to go. (Ahh, to have known that three weeks ago...)

 After priming, much sanding, and a little more priming.

The first coat of paint was a relief after staring at that ugly gray for so long:

Then I realized how hard the painting was and rage quit for a few days. :D

Skip ahead a few more starts and stops, and John decided to swoop in with a rather ingenious method for painting under the rails:


With his help I dove back in, and after another two hard days, countless coats, and lots and lots of taping, the painting was done.

More process shots:

Painting these accent lines was the scariest part of all. O.o 
I drew them in chalk first, which helped. (See it on the horns?)

 Taping off the pink belly stripes.

I left the eye pupils til the very end:

I have Figment looking back to make him a bit more life-like. (Looking forward felt static and dead-eyed.) If you're ever figuring out pupil-placement, do what I do: cut out a circle of black paper and use a bit of double-stick tape to try out different locations. Suuuuper helpful.

Time for more beauty shots!


We've had torrential downpours here every day for about 6 weeks, so our backyard has this brilliant carpet of green on it. Doesn't make up for the fact that our whole state is a giant sauna, but at least it's a pretty photo backdrop.

Rockers are never really meant to be viewed from the front, of course, but I think ours still looks pretty cool:


Everything is secured with both long wood screws and wood glue - right down to the horns - so it's as sturdy, heavy, and safe as we could make it.


I really love the rainbow rails (Rainbow Tunnel homage, anyone?), even though they added immeasurably to our painting pain. It's just so HAPPY, and gets me right in the childhood feelz.


Of course, all that said, and after all this work: we're not keeping it.

No, as with the AT-AT rocker, this was something we just wanted to see if we could do, and now we're ready to pass it on to a loving, Dizgeeky home.

The original plan was to auction it off for charity - same as the AT-AT - but on a whim we decided to check with the charity in question, and get this: they want the rocker itself! So I'm beyond thrilled to report our Figment rocker is going to live at Give Kids The World, the charity resort for kids with life-threatening illnesses and their families. This place is incredible - almost a theme park in itself - and they do the kind of work that renews your faith in humanity. (Go see photos here!)

Whatever GKTW ends up doing with our little Figment - whether they choose to display it, add it to a playroom somewhere, or even auction it off themselves - I'm just happy to see our efforts going toward a place we believe in. :)

 

For those of you who want to make your own Figment rocker: we don't have a template ready (yet?), but this IS an easier build than the AT-AT, so we're open to creating one. Let me know in the comments if you'd be interested, since it's a lot of work to put together the patterns and write out all the instructions, and I don't know if that many people are Figment fans.

Then again, if we ever make another one, I think I'll paint it differently so it's less Vintage Epcot-specific. (We could also tweak the horns.) After all, there are lots of other fun dragon themes, from Harry Potter to The Hobbit to classic medieval times! With all that geeky potential, I feel like a more generic color-scheme might appeal to more folks.

So what do you think? Worth it?

96 comments:

  1. I love it!!! The fact that the colors are "Vintage Epcot-specific" is what makes it awesome.

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  2. It's beautiful! Great job you two!

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  3. This just made me smile the whole time reading it. It is so bright and cheerful!

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  4. This is AMAZING! Thank you for sharing! While I never knew Figment as a child (maybe he wasn't as popular on the West coast?), I was HUGE fan of Pete's Dragon and could see how just a few tweaks could make my childhood come alive as a rocker as well. May I ask the age of little Caleb? Just wondering if my little would fit as well as he does :)

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    1. Figment is an Epcot-only character, so it makes sense you West Coasters wouldn't know him! And little Caleb is 3, but his mom tells me he's small for his age. (I'm thinking we might scale the template UP about 20%, so it would work better for slightly older kids, too.)

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  5. PLEASE make a template available - i NEED this for my Figment obsession! I even painted my office Figment purple!
    FIGMENT OFFICE

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  6. It is absolutely gorgeous - amazing job you guys!

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  7. Wow. Just wow. The charity you've donated it to sounds wonderful!

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  8. OMG, that is awesome (enough for me to finally delurk)! I could see that being very popular on Etsy or at craft fairs. Really, though, I want an adult-sized version. I'm ambivalent about Figment, but I love rocking and I love dragons and I love rainbows and I love purple. =D

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  9. This is amazing. If I had an extra adorable-sized child I would dress him/her as Dreamfinder, build this, put it on WHEELS (although the rocker would be way more fun for home!), and pull or push (via handle) my extra adorable-sized child through a Con. Sadly, no children to dress up as Disney characters and parade through Cons...

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    1. Ermergersh, THIS NEEDS TO HAPPEN. Internet, assemble!

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    2. And then (please) share your pictures! The childless among us would love to bask in the major adorableness!

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  10. Somehow I only know Figment (and dreamfinder) from your blog, but a slightly more generic paint job would make this a marvellous dragon rocker for any family!

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  11. I thought you were going to raffle it off. I so want it for my kidbot!

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  12. "our friends' trio of children, who conveniently come in sizes Small, Tiny, and Extra Adorable" hahahahahahaha

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  13. LOVE it! I have to admit that I was disappointed that you didn't make it adult sized, because I totally want one that I can ride. But I am thrilled that the kids at Give Kids the World will be able to enjoy it!

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  14. So beautiful, and what a lovely new home he'll have!

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  15. oooh that would make an awesome maleficent (in dragon form) rocker too... great work as always, you two rock!

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    1. AHA! How did I forget Maleficent?! Great idea!

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    2. Why isn't there a like button! I NEED this!

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  16. This is awesome! You guys did a great job, as usual :)
    Also, I only know Figment from your blog, but I would LOVE a template! A "generic" dragon rocker would be amazing!

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  17. Please make a template and let me know when you have it ready for sale :)

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  18. So monumentally AWESOME!!!!!

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  19. This is so, so gorgeous. It just makes you happy to look at it! I love, love, love the idea of other dragon rockers from Harry Potter, etc. Wow. You guys could make SO much money making and selling these.

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  20. Totally worth it!! A template can easily be edited with a different paint scheme to take this to medieval dragon, harry potter dragon or any other dragon finish! I love your builds and the creative projects you come up with. Thank you :)

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  21. I love this, but I LOVE EVEN MORE the fact that you donated it to GKTW. What an amazing idea!!! <3

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  22. If I was in any way, shape, or form remotely this crafty I would be SUPER into making my own Figment. You did an AMAZING job!!

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  23. I would totally (have my husband) build this for Baby Hulk!!!

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  24. This is amazing!! I grew up with Figment and would love to build this for my children, but alas my baby is 4 now. Maybe I could convince my husband to make it for the playroom for nieces and nephews to play with!

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  25. You two make me want to learn to use power tools....

    I love original Figment so much, this is just perfect! And I love that you did it just to see if you could and then donated it. Awesome on top of awesome.

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  26. I'm happy crying so much. Figment is beautiful and I love knowing they'll be helping kids. You two are too wonderful for words.

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  27. THAT IS AMAZING!!!!! Please make a pattern - I'll buy both and find someone talented to cut that bad boy out!!!

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  28. It's amazing! I would love a template!

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  29. ok Jen, I need need NEED! the plans for this, I am a huge dragon fan and I will beg the woodworkers in my life to make the rocker for me (I might be willing to gift it to my 4 month old niece.... maybe). if you do make the plans and list them for sale I will buy them in a heart beat.

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  30. 😍😍😍😍 I want it. I need it. Pattern! *grabby hands*

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  31. Oh my goodness, just when I think you guys can't top yourselves! This is ADORABLE. The rainbow rails are just the perfect touch. Is there anything y'all can't do?

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  32. I'd love to see it as a pattern. It's amazing!

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  33. I think I need a K-9 one. But my kid is 9. :)

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    1. Oooh, K-9 is SO going on the list. Maybe as a pull-along?

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  34. So beautiful! And extra great that you're supporting such a good cause with it.

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  35. This is so unbelievably epic, it almost makes me want kids. (Almost.) LOL Seriously though, it's AMAZING. And the fact you guys donated it to Give Kids the World is just awesome of you guys.

    *all the feels!*

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  36. I would die for this pattern. My husband and I are huge Epcot and Figment fans.

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  37. Oh my goodness, the AT-AT rocker was great, but this would fit our dragon theme nursery like nothing else! I'd totally be up for purchasing a template!!!

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  38. Absolutely worth it! Beautiful job!

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  39. This is brilliant! You two did an amazing job!

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  40. I would love to see a K-9 or Toothless one. Getting it balanced for Toothless would be difficult since the best option is to have the wings open for effect. On that note Buckbeak would be another cool one. Keep buckbeak though he could be brought out at Christmas. Make one with a box instead of the seat and maybe the cats would like it.

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    1. Oooh, Buckbeak! Great idea!

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    2. Great idea! I think this is a perfect template where you could create a few different center pieces with the same construction. I will buy this pattern & I think this would be an amazing 1st woodworking project.

      Another blogger I love did this with a sewing pattern. She made a base template, then she was able to make tweeks to create many different types of animals. I linked it (Not sure if it's allowed), but I thought it would be a fun idea & for a shop it's nice to have a few different options with the majority of the work only going in once.
      http://www.ikatbag.com/2015/07/menagerie-for-sale.html

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  41. Is anybody else totally awed and gobsmacked that John was PAINTING THE RAILS RIGHT OVER THE BARE HARDWOOD FLOOR WITH NO PAINT CLOTH OR NEWSPAPER NOR NOTHING?!??

    Earlier this summer I built a four-foot papier-mache "wooden shoe" (long story), and I was painting that puppy out on the grungy back porch with a week's worth of newspapers under and all around it, and I STILL managed to get paint on the surroundings :(. MASSIVE props to John for tidy paint skillz.

    And yes, you should abso-total-utely make and sell a dragon rocker template. (By the way, I hate to be that party-pooping person, but since you are giving the original rocker away to an ultimately unknown recipient, have you and John ever spoken to an attorney-type being about contractual language protecting you against liability? It is SUPER impressive how careful and meticulous you two always are about making your builds sturdy and safe, but of course a sufficiently motivated child is potentially capable of having an accident with any equipment whatsoever, and a sufficiently unscrupulous adult can cause a lot of hassle for the makers of said equipment.)

    Kimstu

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    1. That's a good point, Kimstu. We had some legal language like that for the AT-AT rocker auction, so it's a good idea to write something up for this donation, too. Thanks for the reminder!

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    2. Super! And also!!! How about having the template include a few different variants for the head and the end of the tail, to give the dragon a more customizable "look" (because a Figment-shaped dragon head won't really look like Toothless's head even if painted black)?

      The basic body and limbs and vestigial wings would work fine for pretty much any dragon, but just cut off that main template at the neck and tail tip and have a few different head and tail-tip templates that could be mix-and-matched with it! Right?? The original Figment ones and Toothless ones and Hungarian Horntail ones and and and...!!

      (Natch I mean that the entire dragon would still be cut out of the wood/MDF in one piece, of course, just that the template itself would be made of separate body, head and tail pieces that would be taped together for tracing. May not have made that clear originally because exclamation points.)

      (Now pondering how to add retractable teeth to an open-mouthed Toothless rocker with grooves cut into upper and lower inside of jaws, possibly a thin hole drilled through throat to back of neck for discreet wire-operated pop-up mechanism? hmmmmm.)

      Kimstu

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  42. OMG this is amazing and gorgeous!! Congrats again and that's so exciting about the charity! When you asked for other potential dragon interests my first thought was Toothless!!! Our 3yo daughter is obsessed and would love a Toothless rocker to go with the plush Toothless she "rides" and snuggles that's bigger than her! Lol. We'd pay for plans for that for sure!!

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  43. I would also love to have the template, please. Thanks!

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  44. I am interested in plans. My daughter is figment crazy and would love to build one for a future grandchild.

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  45. The high-pitched squeals of joy coming from Winter Park are from me....

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  46. Give Kids the World is an amazing charity - what a great home for your work! Good job and thank you for sharing!

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  47. Wonderful! My only disappointment was realizing that this was kid-sized and not for you and John -- I was just waiting for that picture of John dressed up on the rocking Figment.

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  48. Totally love this!!! Yes, please! Do make the plans available!

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  49. And now I am sitting at my desk at work and can't stop humming "Puff, the Magic Dragon".

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  50. I would be very interested in a pattern. I must admit I would paint it more generic, but it would be awesome!

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  51. Omg this is amazing! I love it!

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  52. This is adorable and would love to have a pattern!

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  53. Random question for you, where did you get your projector? I've thought about getting one for stuff like this but I can't find one that has decent reviews (Most of the ones I've seen mention in the reviews that they're blurry and don't enlarge that well).

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  54. I would build a rocking Dragon. I don't know if it would be Figment or not, but I do love me a dragon of any kind!!

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  55. Love love love this. I didn't realize Figment and DreamFinder were just EPCOT inhabitants, and not Disney. As a West Coaster, it's no wonder I'd never heard of them before I started reading your blog. I thought maybe they were something that came and went in the (many) years between my visits. I loved dragons, though, so this is amazing - and how wonderful that it's going where children will love it and dream.

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  56. Absolutely adorable!!!
    I'd also like to add: eeeeeeeeee!
    You guys are so talented, and I LOVE reading your builds. And I DEFINITELY agree with the quality of 88 cent paints, like Apple Barrel, which I myself call Crapple Barrel. ;) Anyway, so glad Figment is going to such a wonderful home. Showing, yet again, that you guys are the craft/artistic/cosplay/remodel Masters of the Universe. (see what I did there?)

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  57. Amazing as always!!!!
    Did you think about foam or similar for the tail bits (less likely to be a danger to kids, may just need the seat base then, I would have loved this as a child, so glad it is going to. Good place -you guys rock
    (pun not originally intended, but totally appropriate)

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  58. This is darling. I didn't really grow up with Figment. (I probably encountered him when I was very young and going on trips to Disney with my Winter Park-inhabiting grandparents, but I was too young to remember.) But how can you not love an adorable little dragon with rainbow rails? And I was getting through your piece just fine until you mentioned where Figment's new home will be, and then the waterworks started.

    Someone I know (not well--her mother and mine used to be best friends, so we played together as children) has been adjusting to a particularly horrible diagnosis for her younger daughter. She has a degenerative disorder called Batten's disease, which at this point (obviously hoping for a cure!) is 100% fatal. Post-diagnosis, Make A Wish and Give Kids the World worked incredibly fast to provide their family (all of whom are obviously quite affected by the diagnosis) an extraordinary experience that allowed those two little girls (the disease is pretty rough on siblings, too, obviously, and there was an extended period when they didn't know whether or not the older daughter might also have the disorder--she doesn't, thankfully) to just be kids in the midst of a truly difficult time in their lives.

    I knew the resort existed, but I wasn't quite aware as to how incredibly well-executed it is until my acquaintance started posting photos of their trip. They're a really incredible organization, and I'm so glad to know that their magic will now be home to a bit of Yates magic. :)

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  59. This is so cute! I always suspect when there is Epbot radio silence for a while, that you guys are gonna drop a sweet project on us. And you don't disappoint!

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  60. Does he come in adult size? ;) You guys are SO talented! Figgie is awesomatious!!!

    -Zippy

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  61. I had heard of Give Kids The World but hadn't actually gone and looked up their site. Wow. They look incredible, and now I know another place to donate to!

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  62. An Elliott from 'Pete's Dragon' version would work too!
    You guys are amazing!!

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  63. Yet another fabulous project from the multi-talented Jen and John. Figment is beyond adorable. I just wish it came in adult sizes!

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  64. I'm not really familiar with Figment at all, but that this is freaking adorable, and there's no reason it couldn't be adapted into any other dragon one wanted. If I had any need for a dragon rocker, this would totally be my first stop!

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  65. you restore my faith in humanity. xxx

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  66. When my friends' daughter passed away from an accident, we found GKTW. When I go down to Orlando, I'll take a day or two to volunteer. It's an amazing place.

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  67. THIS IS SO GREAT AND I HAVE ALL THE HAPPY FEELS!
    thank you for sharing your work. you make a difference in so many lives.
    xo

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  68. also, all i can think of is my beloved puff the magic dragon and i don't have kids so i don't need a rocker, but kind of want a full, adult sized puff for me

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  69. If you and John ever start a grownup arts & crafts camp you can sign me up for the first session! Or maybe I'll just send the husband so he can make projects at my command...

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  70. Just delightful :)

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  71. I love this and would love to try a project like this with a more generic dragon. My son was born with Dwarfism, he's almost one and half but when he's a little older I'd love to make him a rocker as most standard rockers are too tall for him and the pegs are in the wrong spot. Did y'all seal the paint with clear coat or anything?

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  72. I would LOVE to purchase the pattern!!! Please make it available!!

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  73. THIS IS AMAZING! The tattoo of Figment on my shoulder is dancing with joy.

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  74. omg yes please for the template. I loved your first rocker but had no excuse to make one, but I have one now and Figment is my all time favorite anything. Excellent work! You guys are amazing!

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  75. This is so goddamn awesome I can't even express it! This *may* have something to do with being 11 weeks pregnant and full of hormones, but even so I can't wait to have something like this in our home. <3

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  76. I'm particularly impressed with John's "Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel" pose.

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  77. Eeeeee! So cute, maybe I ought to make a larger one for er ... um ... some totally anonymous big person who always wanted to ride dragons...
    One thing I noticed is that he sits back a little on his haunches (i.e. the rockers aren't level - most people probably don't care, but it's the sort of thing that catches my eye, ya know?) - I had a similar issue with a rocking horse I made, and solved much of the problem by cutting large holes in the belly and haunch of the central layer of MDF (I'm assuming you used 3 layers for the body) to lighten the rear somewhat. If that alone isn't enough, you could also cut a smaller hole in the chest/neck area and insert a lead weight or similar. Kahurangi, New Zealand :-)

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  78. Please, oh please make this a pattern! I'd love to make a 'Toothless' one! It's all in the paint job and facial details.

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  79. forget patterns.... i will PAY you to make me one. or, i would take just a wooden cutout of figment! (p.s. our dog's name is Figment if that gives you insight into our obsession!)

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  80. This looks gorgeous. I'm going to attempt this in the very near future for my godchild. A template would be amazing.

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