How to Make Chinese Scrolls

Written by fiona fearey
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How to Make Chinese Scrolls
Use ink and a bamboo brush to make traditional Chinese scrolls. (set for calligraphy image by Daria Miroshnikova from

The Chinese have been making scrolls since about 100 A.D., when they invented paper. The Chinese considered calligraphy a purer art form than painting, although traditional scrolls often contain painted landscapes as well. The two formats for scrolls are a vertical hanging scroll and a horizontal hand scroll. Making an Asian-style scroll is a project appropriate for both adults and children. Teachers can include this project in lessons on art history, studio art, ancient history or multicultural studies.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Long sheet of paper
  • Scissors
  • Tea bag, optional
  • Wide, flat paintbrush, optional
  • Iron
  • Matches, optional
  • 2 sticks
  • Glue
  • Ink
  • Bamboo ink brush
  • Scrap paper
  • Ribbon or string

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  1. 1

    Select paper for your Chinese scroll. Rice paper is appropriate but may be difficult to find and can be expensive. White or brown craft paper can be aged to look more authentic. Steep a tea bag in hot water to make a brown liquid. Brush on the tea mixture with a wide, flat paintbrush to give the paper an antique look. Allow the paper to dry flat. Flatten the paper by ironing with an iron on low, if necessary.

  2. 2

    Choose sticks to attach to the scroll. Options include bamboo sticks, wooden skewers, thin dowels and chopsticks.Cut your paper into a strip slightly narrower than the length of the sticks. Burn the edges of the paper with a match to make them look older and worn, if desired.

  3. 3

    Place each stick about one inch in from the edges of the paper. Squeeze out a line of glue next to the sticks. Roll the edges of the paper around the sticks. Place an object, like a book, on top of the sticks while the glue dries.

  4. 4

    Practice a design or Chinese calligraphy several times using ink and a bamboo brush on a sheet of scrap paper until you can execute it quickly and without mistakes. In general, the brush is held almost perpendicular to the paper. Press down on the brush to make a broad line. Allow just the tip of the brush to skim the page to make a sharp, narrow line. Asian brushwork is valued for its lively, fluent quality. You will not be able to fix any mistakes easily. When you feel confident in your ability to execute your calligraphy or design without error, work directly on your scroll.

  5. 5

    Attach a ribbon or string to the top stick to create a hanging scroll. If you are making a hand scroll, there is no need to attach ribbon or string as these do not hang.

Tips and warnings

  • Include both images and writing by illustrating a short Chinese poem.
  • Children should only use irons and matches with adult supervision.

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