Introduction: Make a Chinese Dragon Head

Materials used:

wood glue
contact cement
pex tubing for hoops( big box lumber yard has this- 1/2 inch)
cardboard boxes
roofing foam board insulation( big box lumber yard)
duct tape red white and yellow
2 clementine boxes
wood for the pole box
wood for pole - i used a square pole that I cut to fit the box and hand planed to make it round down below the box
fabric: colors of your choice I used a polyester "china silk for $2.99/ yard. I used 30 yards of yellow, for the body and head.
     I used about 5 yards of orange polyester satin and  3 yards red poly satin. I had some black polar fleece and some lt gray 
     linen scraps for the eyes.
5 feet of 3/4 inch foam
scraps of 1 inch foam for teeth
 Wonder under- this comes from a fabric store. It is an iron on glue.


drill and bits
utility knife
rotary cutter
sewing machine
hand sewing needles
electric hand plane

Step 1: Make the Skull and Pole Box.

I know you will ask this - it took 31 hours to make the head. I will show how I made the body in another instructable.
Here's the start of my process to make the dragon head.  I needed to make the skull and pole support. I used two clementine boxes,  some wood scraps, and pex tubing to make the skull. Any of the big box lumber yards carry pex tubing. I used 1/2 inch. I  made hoops using the pex tube. I used 1/2 inch dowel cut into 2 1/2 inch lengths to hold the tube in circular shape.

I removed the bottom in one of the clementine boxes. I cut two 1/2 inch plywood scraps to fit inside the box. I glued and screwed the board to the boxes to hold them together.

I chose to make a box to receive the pole. I used a 7 ft square 1/1/2 in board for the pole. I left the pole square where it would fit into the box and planed the board to a round below the box. In the picture where I am gluing up the box, one of the pieces inside the box is just a spacer, which I remove because the pole needs to fit in. The other is glued in to act as a stop for the pole. I glue and screw the pole box to the skull. I put the box at the front of the skull hoping to balance the weight for the person holding her up.

I wired the hoops to the box skull. Note the different size hoops.

Step 2: Make Lower Jaw

I used cardboard from a sturdy box for the basic bottom  jaw. I cut the shape as I wanted. I put  a fold where I wanted the jaw to flap.

Basically the construction I use throughout this process is to cover foam with fabric, add stitching to get texture, use contact cement to attach the component to the cardboard and then sew it togeher. I make each component separately. For the lower jaw the components are:  fabric covered foam, stitched triangles under jaw, lip components, the lower palate, and the tongue.  The elastic bands are there to allow for jaw movement. The bands are to be attached to the skull later on.  The square cut out is for the pole box.
For the lower palate I used red satin and added black fleece for the gums.
For the tongue, I used roof insulation sheet foam. It is about 1/4 inch thick. pretty flexible and not very  breakable. I just made a sleeve,  then I slid the foam board into it. I don't like to use foam core bard  because it seems to crack easily. The teeth are just upholstery foam that I cut and hand stitched into the jaw.

I hand sew the components together. Sometime I use a curved needle. I hand sew the under jaw to the jagged lip , then I flip it over and sew the lower palate to the lips and sew in the teeth.

Step 3: Make the Upper Jaw and Head

Here I am using the same methods that I used to build the lower jaw. In the second picture, I am holding the upper jaw cardboard base. I made it slightly longer than the lower jaw so the upper teeth would stick over the lower jaw. You can see the fold from the box. I bend that up and use the flap to wire it to the skull box later on.

The third picture shows the parts of the upper jaw. I cut and bent more cardboard to create 3 dimensions and then duct taped the flat cardboard jaw to the 3- dimensional addition. You can also see the rest of the skull in back.

The fourth picture shows more of the parts for the head. The newspaper piece on the right is the pattern for the foam skull. I cut three of those out of 1/2 inch foam and sewed them together on my sewing machine. I also used the pattern to cut the red fabric to create the cover.

The 5th picture shows the components of the upper jaw: The first piece of foam will be used to cover the outside of the jaw. the second piece of foam underneath the newspaper pattern is the foam for the palate inside the upper jaw. There is a piece of jagged cut foam on the front left hand corner of my desk that I use to make the upper lips(this is the leftover piece from when I cut the lips for the lower jaw)

For the upper palate I cut fabric to fit over the foam  and added appliques. Then I sewed the fabric to the foam adding stitching to give some depth.  I added  a strip of black polar fleece to be the gums.  See the palate sandwich.

For the outside of the upper jaw, I use the same method of making a foam sandwich. I  applique my design on to the fabric before attaching it to the foam. I interface the red fabric with some iron on fleece interfacing that I had. I wanted it to add texture.
Then I stitch it to the foam, and then cut  the extra foam off,

The last four pictures show how I made my lip sandwich.  I use wonder under on the inside of the pieces to help hold it all together while I sewed and cut. When I sew around the jagged parts, I sew around twice with a straight stitch and then go around once more with a zig zag.  The poly fabric frayed a lot.  I used this same method to make the lower lip.

Step 4: Put It Together

Here I put it all together.  I add  black polar  fleece to the bottom of the red skull to cover the rest of the clementine box skull. I don't stitch up the front where i will slip the upper jaw.The polar fleece only goes to the bottom of the box, because the lower palate will cover the bottom.

Before I put this together I added a sleeve around the fabric skull  that is same size as my hoop. There are 3 hoops inside the skull. The one at the back is the same size as the hoops in the body.

On the piano bench are the three components plus the eyes, I put the upper palate on first, hand sewing wherever it is needed

Then I put the lower jaw on. Before attaching it, I feed the elastic straps to the top of the box skull, feed them thru some holes in the clementine box and safety pin them.  Then I stitch the lower jaw to the bottom of the box , inside the jaw and at the throat by hand.

I make the eyes out of 4 pieces of covered 1/2 inch foam.  I used scraps of fabric for the whites.  The eyeballs are styrofoam balls I got at a dollar store and covered with black fleece which I appliques red pupils on.

The cheeks are made of various pieces. I made shapes I liked and covered them with fabric and stitched.  Two of the pieces are made of the roofing insulation with duct tape covers.  The yellow horns are made of roof insulation board, wire, 1/2 inch upholstery foam, and wrapped in duct tape. I added the wire to prevent breakage.   I wired the cheek pieces and horns through the fabrics and into the box.