Chinese Parade Dragon

This is a parade type, Chinese dragon made for Girl Scout World Friendship Day (also known as Thinking Day and International Festival, depending on where you are from). It had to be inexpensive, had to be able to travel and be able to have 14 seven year old girls participate in it's creation and be able to be tried out by 100 girls of different ages at the event.

Step 1: Get Supplies

2 boxes - one taller than the other
Glue
2 paperboard canisters

heavy paper (to cover canisters)

permanent markers

zip ties

hot glue gun w/glue sticks

sticky back hook & loop tape (Velcro or generic)

6 (or more) poster boards various colors
Pencil
Scissors
Paints and brushes
Sticky gems or glue on with proper glue
2 (or more) full flat bed sheets
1 matching fitted sheet

grommets and grommet pliers
Sewing machine
Matching thread
Craft paper
Masking tape
2 paper plates
Marbles or rocks for weight
Liquid starch
Flour
Large flat dish
Whisk

Step 2: Design Your Antlers

Chinese dragons have deer type antlers (European dragons have the curved, pointy horns you are probably used to seeing). Use your craft paper to form antlers with at least one branch to make it look like a Chinese dragon. Roll paper into a long cone and a short cone. Use masking tape to hold the shape. Snip about 1/4 inch on edge of short cone and fold edges out to make tabs. Use these tabs to tape the small cone to the side of long cone.

Step 3: Beautify Your Antlers

Once you have the basic shape you can fill the long cone with left over paper for added support. (It gets heavy when paper macheing) Then add a looser cone around base to make the antler the length you need (plus a couple inches for tabs) and wider at the bottom. This is where you get creative to make it more natural in shape.

Step 4: Prepare to Paper Mache

Mix 1 part flour to 2 parts liquid starch in large flat dish. Stir until lump free. Tear craft paper into strips about 1.5 inches wide by 6-8 inches long. They don't have to be perfect. .

Step 5: Paper Mache

Here is where you get really messy. Dip the strips into the mixture, wipe as much of the liquid off as you can with your fingers then wrap your antlers in paper strips until the whole thing is covered. Try to keep the layers smooth, tearing as needed to go around curves. When you have covered them completely, let them dry overnight. Store your starch mixture in a covered container. Clean everything! Repeat paper mache coverage the next day after everything has dried to make the antlers firmer.

Step 6: Make Dragon Body

Sew the 2 flat sheets together end to end to make 1 long piece. Trim threads and remove tags.

Step 7: Make Support Loops

Cut the elastic edge off the fitted sheet. Cut this strip into 3 inch long pieces. I made 28. Note: if you are making a longer dragon you may need to purchase extra elastic beyond what comes on a fitted bed sheet.

Step 8: Place Loops

Starting about 30 inches from the end of your fabric, tape a loop at 1/8 yard and one at 3/8 yard. Then again about 20 inches away. Repeat until you've reached the end. This will leave you abut 36 inches or so between the head and the 1st hoop. Once you have taped these 1st loops on, you can go back and make sure they are evenly spaced - it is hard working with such wide fabric. When you are satisfied place a pin through the fabric at the middle of each loop. Flip the fabric over and tape on the rest of the loops where your pins are. Notes: this dragon is for a young girl scout troop - they are small and can stand close together. The goal was to get as many hoops in the dragon as we could so more girls could participate in carrying the dragon. Older kids and adults can be much farther apart and can support a much longer dragon.

Step 9: Sew on Support Loops

When you are happy with your support loop placement - Open fabric out and sew 1/4 - 1/2 inch from edge of each elastic strip. Make sure you are using a stretch fabric needle to help minimize the bobbin thread from snarling and making a big tangled knot on the outside of your dragon. When you are done, trim the threads and remove the tape.

Step 10: Make the Dragon Head

I looked at several examples of other people's dragon heads and decided to follow the general example of boxyourself on YouTube for shape of the head and how to, but added poster board frills, mustache, nose and cannister eyes.

Glue the flaps of box closed - you may need to weight the flaps with rocks or other heavy objects to get a good glue seal. I did this for the top of the boxes to make sure I had a good, clean sealed top. I also used some masking tape to hold the edges while the glue set.

Step 11: Cut Accent Pieces

Time for more creativity! We wanted our dragon to be colorful, so I chose different colors for each accent piece. I free handed all of these shapes. Draw lightly on the poster board because eraser marks are as visible as pencil! I made a mustache, snoot, and a many layered frill. (There will be teeth too - but I'm going to let my scouts cut those out)

Step 12: Paint and Decorate

This is where my scouts took ownership of this project. I took in my two sealed boxes, dragon body, antlers, a couple sizes of canisters, the cut outs and extra poster board, paints, brushes, tape, stickers and general crafting supplies. (And lots of cleaning supplies) I gave each girl a buddy and a set of matching dragon pieces to decorate.

We sticky gemmed all over the edges of the frills, the mustache, beard, snoot stripe, painted the head, antlers, snoot and teeth. We covered the canisters with white paper and drew pupils onto the yellow lids with permanent marker. We decided to make it a girl dragon and she got eye shadow and eyelashes.

I have limited pictures for privacy issues, but I'm sure you know how to paint and put on stickers. : )

Step 13: Putting It All Together - Cutting

After letting all the pieces dry it is time to make all these parts into one dragon!

I chose to make the side of the box, the top of my dragon head so I could access the inside of the head. Cut holes in the top of the taller box (head) for the antlers to come through and in the front for the eyes (canisters). Make sure you cut the antler holes big enough for the antlers but not bigger than the flat base part. My base was a bit to large to fit in the box so I also had to cut the base down to about 1.5 around the bottom of the antler.

Cut about 1.5 inches from the edge of the shorter box (Snout) around 3 sides to create a mouth. Place the snout up against the head and punch 4 holes for zip ties to go through. (remember I have to take this apart for travel - if you don't you can glue or attach another way)

Step 14: Putting It All Together - Support

I worried that the antlers would be too heavy and over time would tear and pull away from any tape or glue. So I hot glued to hold the box to the antler base, then I taped to hold the antlers to the box top, then I wedged in a pizza box so the antlers couldn't fall down.

I put in the Canister eyes and hot glued around the edges on the inside so they couldn't sink in.

I put in 2 medium mailer boxes at the back and at the front to finish off the support.

You may notice a plastic piece just above the eyes attached to the pizza box and a hole in the bottom in some pictures. We originally intended to carry the head using a dollar store mop. Although we think the concept is sound - we found it too difficult for the girls to do and opted to just carry the head from the outside of the box.

We zip tied the snoot to the head and those zip ties were covered by the tongue.

We did find that after a few rounds of use at the event the jaw ripped - we forgot to put on the lower jaw support recommended in the boxyourself video - definitely add some support to keep the mouth from falling completely flat open. We had do some tape work to close it up so we could see when carrying it around at the event.

Step 15: Putting It All Together - Details

We used glue dots to attach the tongue (plain rectangle of poster board to cover the inside of the mouth), the teeth and the eye lashes.

Again we needed to be able to travel with the dragon so we couldn't have the poster board getting crushed and wrinkled so we attached the rest of the accessories with sticky back hook and loop tape. This way we could remove them and keep them safe to and from meetings and the event. The frills on the side of the head held the open side of the box closed - so if we had used the pole we could have accessed the inside of the box to screw it into the mop head.

To attach the body I punched small holes in the top at the back and side corners and and in the center back of the head. I added small grommets into the sheet matching them to the placement of the holes in my boxes. Note the holes are on each side of the corner so I can zip tie over the corner so that it wont rip through. I used a bent paper clip to help fish the zip tie through the 2nd hole

To carry the body we opened hula hoops from the dollar tree and threaded them through the loops we sewed on earlier. Note: We did have some slippage issues during the event when we had girls of significant height differences but most of the time a small tug would take care of the matter.

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    2 Discussions

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    seamster

    5 weeks ago

    Very cool! Great techniques and the dragon looks excellent : )

    1 reply
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    JacquelineA37seamster

    Reply 5 weeks ago

    Thanks - it was very popular and we are considering using it for an actual parade.