How To Make A Chinese Dragon

Chinese Dragon Head and Tail on a table
Make a Paper Mache Chinese Dragon for a Dragon or Lion Dance. This one was created for a class party as a Cultural celebration for my son and daughter’s pre-school classes a few years ago. It has been used at many Chinese New Year celebrations and the kids absolutely love doing the lion parade with festive Chinese New Year music.

 

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Chinese Dragon or Lion Paper Mache Plan

Chinese Dragon Paper Mache Supplies:

With this craft you can use lots of recycled materials like newspapers, store paper bags, empty cereal boxes, laundry wire hangers, left over fabrics, and any embellishments like buttons, pom poms, feathers, bells, buttons, etc. you have in the house.  If not, they are not that expensive to purchase.  Some basic items you will need:

  • Lots of newspaper
  • Lots of White Glue (3-4 bottles)
  • Water
  • Firm Floral wire
  • Scissors
  • Acrylic Paint in bright colors
  • Paper Carton Boxes (Empty Cereal boxes)
  • Bucket to hold the glue paste
  • Gloves (optional)
  • Hot glue gun
  • 1/8 yard of sheer black fabric
  • 3 yards of various colors of satin fabric in bright festive colors
  • small white boa

Chinese Lion Head Paper Mache Instructions:

  1. Create a big wire frame ball using as much wire as possible.  Basically I made a big ball but made sure the bottom was open so that kids could fit inside the head.  After a ball was created, the holes of the eyes were shaped and the shape of the head was created by bending the ball using my hand.  Sorry don’t have any pictures of that process.  At this point of the project the head has no real distinct shape but keep at it as the more wire you add, the more you will be able to mold the head and see a form take place.
  2. After I was happy with the shape I dumped some glue and water (equal portions) in a bucket and mix well.
  3. Lay out some newspaper on the table and place your Dragon/Lion head on top.  Tear off strips of newspaper and dunk into the paste bucket.  Use gloves if desired. Take the strips of newspaper out and wipe off excess into the bucket with your fingers.  Lay strips over the wire frame and smooth down with your fingers.
  4. Continue until the entire head is covered, making sure to leave openings for eyes and the bottom of the head.  Let dry overnight.
  5. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 with a second layer of paper mache.  The second layer will make the head sturdier.  Let dry.
  6. Take some cereal cardboard and cut into 2 ears.  Use hot glue to glue on the ears.
  7. Let dry again completely.
  8. Get some paint and paint the head in various colors.  The brighter the better.

 

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Construction of Lions Head Starting to Paint
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Side view of the Lion/Dragon Head.

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Construction of Lions Head Starting to Paint Side view
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8.  Take a paper plate and cut as shown in the picture.  This will be part of the eyebrow and ear of the Chinese Lion/Dragon.

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Cutting a plate to make eye brows and ears for the Lion's Head
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9. Glue using hot glue gun onto the Chinese Dragon’s head to form eyebrows and ears as shown in the picture.

 

Paper Mache Lion's Head with eyebrows and ears attached
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10.  Add in eyes by glueing black sheer fabric into the eye openings with hot glue and adding white felt pieces  for the eye balls.  This way the person inside the head can look out without being seen.

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Finished Back of Lion's Head with tail attached with colorful fabrics and glitter
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11. Use hot glue to add in the glitter and fabric onto the head.  Attach 3 yards of fabric to the back portion of the head to form a long tail.  The tail can be made from multiple strips of colored fabric though it is easier to just have one long piece of fabric.
12. Add in colored pom poms, bells, and other embellishments to make the Lion even more festive. Let dry overnight.
Kung Hay Fat Choy!  Happy New Year!  Don’t forget to give your Chinese dragon some cabbage to feast on!
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Finished Lion's Head with tail attached with colorful fabrics and glitter
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