How to Make a Chinese Dragon for a Parade

Written by jennifer volino
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How to Make a Chinese Dragon for a Parade
(Hemera Technologies/ Images)

If you are passionate about the giant, colourful decorations and animals on display at a Chinese New Year parade, consider creating your own dragon to be toted around and animated by a group of family or friends.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Cardboard box, 24 by 36 inches
  • 4-by-6-foot sheet of foam, 3 inches thick
  • Green fabric, 5 by 12 feet
  • Red fabric, 2 by 4 feet
  • 2 tennis balls
  • Poster paint (green, red, black and white)
  • Glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Long scraps of different coloured fabric
  • Safety pins
  • 5 hula hoops
  • Needle and thread

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  1. 1

    Cut the foam into two pieces measuring 2 by 3 feet each. These sheets will be the upper and lower jaws and the teeth. Cut a row of pointed, triangular teeth along the longer sides of the foam and one of the shorter sides. Hollow out the inside part of the jaws so that the teeth can be raised and more defined.

  2. 2

    Place the box upside down so the open side rests on the floor, with the flaps extended. The box will be the dragon's head and the flaps will support other parts of the costume. Attach the foam jaws to the narrow end of the cardboard box with a glue gun.

  3. 3

    Place one end of the green fabric to cover the box and remaining flaps and secure with a glue gun. The remaining fabric will trail off as the dragon's body and tail.

  4. 4

    Attach the tennis balls to the head as eyes, above and on either side of the upper jaw.

  5. 5

    Glue the red fabric to the bottom inside jaw, trimming away any excess material that might cover the teeth. This is the dragon's long, fiery tongue. Shape the tongue with scissors to flare out at the end, similar to the forked tongue of a snake.

  6. 6

    Paint the appropriate colours on the head you have just built: green for any visible part of the dragon head that has not been covered with the cloth, red for the inside of the jaws, white for the teeth and black for the details of the tennis ball eyes.

  7. 7

    Cut circular half-moon shapes 6 to 8 inches in diameter from a variety of fabric colours. These are the scales of the dragon's body. Secure them to the extended piece of green fabric in a layered fashion, using safety pins.

  8. 8

    Cut a variety of 2-inch wide fabric strips that will hang from the sides of the dragon body. These strips will cover the animators beneath the dragon and create a delightful rippling effect when the dragon is in motion. The fabric should be slightly longer than the people holding the costume. Secure these strips to the edges of green fabric using safety pins.

  9. 9

    Place one hula hoop at a time beneath the green fabric of the dragon body, and sew the top part to the covering fabric with a needle and thread. Space the hula hoops out in equal measurements to evenly distribute the weight. The hula hoops will allow the dragon to remain upright when carried, and will enable the operators beneath to stretch out, scrunch together and make rounded turns.

Tips and warnings

  • If possible, build your dragon outside where there is more room to lay out all of your supplies.
  • An adult should supervise and assist in any steps that utilise a hot glue gun, needle and scissors.

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