Introduction: Giant Armature Dragon Puppet

Picture of Giant Armature Dragon Puppet

Hello members of the interwebs, 

Have you ever wondered what your life is missing? 

Is it potatoes? Dirty dishes? Famine? Meteors? An understanding of string theory?

No, it's none of THOSE things. What your life is missing is more GIANT DRAGON PUPPETS. But fear not, for now you too can build your very own giant dragon puppet! Think of all the uses! Haloween props, putting on a play, scaring your friends, entertaining at children's birthday parties, washing your car*, mowing your lawn**, ending world hunger!*** The uses are endless!!!!!!****

*Dragon puppets can't do this
**Nope, not this either
***Also no. 
****Uses for a dragon puppet are not actually endless. 


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YOU WILL NEED

PVC Pipe (1 1/4inch width, 1/2 inch width)
PVC connectors
Fabric (two colors)
Styrofoam 
Gorilla glue
Hot glue
Hutspa
Scissors
A sewing machine (or just a lot of time on your hands)
Gumption
A card table
Paint

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Ready now? then off we go!!! 

Step 1: Making the Head

Picture of Making the Head

You are going to want to make your dragon head out of something light-weight. We carved ours out of styrofoam, but you can form it from any method you choose. (other good options would be carving it out of felt-foam or sculpting with caulking foam.) 

Make sure that it is sturdy and has a flat surface at the back of the head where the neck will attach. 

Earlier designs had the head and jaw be separate pieces to allow the mouth to open. Based on how skilled a sculptor/electrician you are, you might want to add LED lights for eyes or a fog machine to make him breathe fire. 

Step 2: Make the PVC Skeleton

Picture of Make the PVC Skeleton

The basic framework of your dragon is going to be made of PVC pipe. The easiest way to do this is by making a sort of teeter-totter structure. 

The base of your structure can be any shape but we opted to make it a half-cube of 1 1/4 inch w PVC. 

The main up/down pivot is made by screwing in the smaller pipe (1/2 inch w) across the top of your base. Before securing both sides, slide another 1 1/4 inch w pipe so that it fits loosely around the 1/2 inch pipe. This should spin freely (kindof like a paper towel roll)

The neck of your dragon is made with two parallel PVC sitting across your pivot point. The complete neck should be longer than the neck of the dragon because it also must include the handle on the back (ours totaled to around 9 ft.) Once screwed in completely to the pivot, attach another pipe parallel to the pivot bar. This bar keeps the neck and head from falling too far forward. 

If you want to add extra pivots to make the dragon sway/crouch etc, you can, but the easiest way is

Step 3: Making the Neck

Picture of Making the Neck

The neck of your dragon is going to be made primarily of fabric. We chose Red (main fabric) and Gold (accent fabric) but yours can be whatever color you like. 

The basic shape of the neck is going to be similar to that of a windsock. First cut your main fabric into two right triangular shapes. (keep the excess, you'll need it for the wings.) Next cut the tip off of the farthest end (see diagram) Put them together and it should look like a large trapezoid. sew the straight edges to each other. 

Next, cut the accent fabric into strips of jagged flame-looking pieces. (keep the excess, you'll need it later) Lay these strips along the trapezoid neck facing inward (see diagram.) 

Fold the fabric trapezoid in half over the gold accents. Sew both ends. 

Turn the whole thing inside out and you have your dragon neck tube-sock.

At the largest opening, sew a hula-hoop along the lining in order to secure its shape. 

Step 4: Making the Wings

Picture of Making the Wings

Using the excess material from the neck, cut out a bat wing shape from the fabric (see diagram)

Attach a length of 1/2 inch w PVC along the long edge, and a piece of thick wire to the other edge. Sew in. 

Step 5: Painting the Head

Picture of Painting the Head

Use acrylic or craft paints to paint your dragon head. If using spray paints, make sure to only use "Design Master" brand spray paint. Any other kind will cause the styrofoam to shrivel up/disintegrate. 

Step 6: Attaching the Head

Picture of Attaching the Head

Carve two holes into the back of the head and fit PVC joint pieces into them. Secure with Gorilla glue.

Use hot glue to secure the small end of your fabric neck to the head. 

Once dry, attach the head to the teeter totter system and drape fabric over. 


Step 7: Attach Wings

Picture of Attach Wings

Secure the wings of the dragon onto the PVC structure either with screws, duct tape, or hot glue (it really doesn't matter as this part will be hidden behind the neck fabric. 

Step 8: Elevate and Perform!

Picture of Elevate and Perform!
For our dragon, to give him extra height, we set the whole structure on a card table that we covered with fabric. 

To perform, simply hide behind the dragon and push down on the handle to make the neck go up and down. Add some smoke and your mightiest roar and viola! You have a dragon! 

Ours was used as the climax in a medevial scavenger hunt for a 5 year old's birthday party. Everyone loved it and the kids were in awe. Can also easily be used in theatrical settings (The hobbit, Shrek The Musical, Wicked, etc) and for halloween decor. 

Whatever you decide to use him for, have fun building and bringing to life your own giant dragon! 

Comments

BillyW24 (author)2016-05-22

How were you able to carve the head out of the styrofoam? Is there a special tool that I need to use?

violetp (author)2013-05-21

Turned Out Great!!!

grt57 (author)2013-03-03

Too Darn Cool... ! I love it just the way it is!

woofman (author)2013-03-03

Nice design but definitely not fire breathing. I was expecting a clever introduction to some pyrotechnics. Looks great though!

jonikam (author)2013-03-03

Hey great job well done, as a costumer, I can see many possibilities for this as a prop. May I ask whether the styro-foam you used was the smooth stuff because the regular stuff with the rough texture from holes, doesn't carve well.Where did you get a piece that large?
Once again, thumbs way up for this.

eschneck (author)2013-03-03

Right now my life is missing the "fire breathing" part of this instructable ...

meritsetgo (author)eschneck2013-03-03

with oil at $107 a barrel the only fire coming out is the dragon is the curses at the gas station when it needs to fill up....but remember we are trying to keep it classy and green here so it is fueled by your imagination for the time being :)

GorillazMiko (author)2013-02-26

Incredible job. Can you guys perform at my birthday party?

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