How to make a dancing dragon costume

Updated November 21, 2016

Parades and festivals play a big part in the Chinese New Year. The dragon dance, in which a large and elaborate dragon is powered by the people inside it, symbolises good luck and success in the coming year. Though these costumes look complicated, you can make one at home. It takes a little effort and lots of supplies, but can be worth it, especially if you intend to use it during a celebration of your own.

Cut a cardboard oval with broadly rounded ends about 4 feet long and 2 feet wide. Spray paint it red on one side for the inside of the dragon's mouth, and fold it in half so that the red is inside the fold.

Slice a 4-foot cube of styrofoam, so you have a 1-foot-thick piece and a 3- foot-thick piece. Glue the 1-foot piece to the underside of the cardboard mouth, and glue the 3-foot piece to the top. Carve both pieces with a serrated knife so that their edges line up with the edges of the cardboard and both pieces resemble domes.

Draw rows of jagged teeth on a piece of white cloth. Cut them out and glue them to the edges of the mouth, making sure you have enough teeth for the top and the bottom. Use more colourful fabric to cover the foam and make eyes. Glue white or bright faux fur around the eyes and mouth.

Glue cupboard handles to the back of the top section of styrofoam to make it easy to carry. The head of the dragon is finished.

Make the body by bending two 5-foot pieces of heavy wire into large U shapes for one section. Turn the U shapes upside down and connect them with two 3-foot pieces of wire wrapped around the tops of the curves and two more pieces connecting the arms of the U's at the bottom.

Toss a wide piece of fabric over the wire U's, and glue it to the wire at the edges. Glue fur over the edges to mask the wire. The wearer can carry the section by the bottom two wires.

Repeat steps 5 and 6 to make as many body sections as you like.

Things You'll Need

  • Heavy-gauge wire
  • Colourful fabric
  • Faux fur strips (white or bright colours)
  • Large styrofoam cubes
  • Cupboard handles
  • Cardboard
  • Paint
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Serrated knife
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