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A skilled Carpenter
Pictured is the Chinese dragon made by Tommy Carpenter that claimed second in the state and fourth in the nation.

Here’s one project that’s a fire-breathing success.
Warren County Middle School student Tommy Carpenter has earned second in the state and fourth in the nation for a plastic sculpture he made of a Chinese dragon. The awards were given during two separate Junior Beta Club conventions, both held at Opryland Hotel.
“I knew I wanted to do something to enter the sculpting contest, but I couldn’t figure out what,” said Tommy, 13, a rising eighth-grader at WCMS. “Once I finally settled on a dragon, I kept thinking of ways to make it better. That’s when I decided to add a samurai warrior with a sword and I decided to give it antlers because they’re different and unique.”
Carpenter sculpted his dragon from InstaMorph, a type of plastic that comes in pellets that can be molded when heated by boiling water or a hair dryer. Carpenter used both methods and determined he could focus the heat of the hair dryer to specific areas if he used aluminum foil to narrow the air stream.
“Each time you want to change or alter or add to it, you have to boil it again or heat it with a hair dryer,” said Tommy, who used a butter knife and screwdriver to give the dragon’s skin some texture.
He perched the dragon atop a cedar branch he found in the woods. As for finishing touches, Tommy had the dragon breathing fire and clutching a crystal in one of its claws to signify magical powers.
The project took about three weeks from start to finish. Carpenter entered the project in the state Beta convention in November and claimed second place. That earned him the chance to compete in nationals, which were held last weekend in Nashville.
“We really lucked out that both conventions were held in Nashville this year because the site rotates around,” said Tommy’s mother, Michelle Carpenter.
Students from dozens of states competed at nationals with Tommy saying most states in the region were well represented. He said participation was light from students in West Coast states, likely due to travel requirements.
Carpenter gives thanks to WCMS teacher and Beta Club sponsor Amanda Gibbs for her encouragement during his project. Tommy is the son of Michelle and Josh Carpenter.