Dragon Chronophage

'Can you design me a dragon?' is easily one of the most unusual design requests Marble has had from their clients. Of course we rose to the challenge and undertook our most unusual engineering and design challenge to date!

Dr John C Taylor commissioned Marble to work with him to convert a static clay sculpture into a colourful, glitzy, animated kinetic sculpture. The dragon was designed to sit on top of his existing gold chronophage clock base to provide a fascinating piece of modern art, illustrating the Harrison escapement mechanism and celebrating the hour with oriental chimes and trickery. The clock was installed (and stole the limelight) at Design Shanghai 2015 by the Marble and Fromanteel Team and was featured on BBC news. It currently resides in the Isle of Man.

The eyelids and lashes were built in sintered titanium and are 0.3mm thick in places. The eyelashes were the cosmetic element of a clever eye blink mechanism that randomly operated on the release of a mechanically driven spring. Marble designed, engineered, built and tested all of the mechanisms within the dragon. The mechanisms were designed to articulate at specific points in time and included tongue extension, head nod, jaw opening, pearl rolling, articulation of the back spines in a Mexican wave and rotary tail motion. The dragon's scales and body panels were designed to accommodate these articulations in a natural manner without exposing any of the internal mechanisms.The dragon was developed in 6 months to the strict deadlines of the show.


Marble created an articulating virtual 3D surface model of the dragon and from this evolved the cosmetic vision. Marble's industrial designers developed the technique for manufacturing and decorating the scales. Each scale is unique and textured to ensure it follows the contours of the body. Marble also sourced, commissioned and managed 3D surface sculptors, engineers, jewellers, enamellers, guilders and painters throughout the detailed design process. The end result was a unique and stunning piece of engineered art which will last for generations.