Kyoshi Metal Fans




About: I'm an indie game developer who enjoys making costumes, comics and cupcakes. I like video and board games, halloween, and laser dolphins.

If you're familiar with the Avatar: The Last Airbender series, you know who Avatar Kyoshi is: The oldest living avatar, with the largest feet, who got things *done*. Alright, so maybe some of her deeds didn't work out in the long-run...but still, who wouldn't want to dress up as the fiercest Avatar of them all?

Avatar Kyoshi (and later, the Kyoshi Warriors) fought with metal war fans. I wasn't satisfied with buying (paper) hand-fans and I didn't want to spend a lot of money on real war fans, so I made some out of brass. I sadly didn't do the best documentation of the making of the fans, but hopefully this Instructable will be of some help to future Kyoshi-Warriors-In-Training. (But please do check with any events you will be attending to see if they permit metal props!)

Photo by David Che


Step 1: Gather Supplies

For this project, you will need:
- Brass metal sheet (I used a 17x18" piece of .025" brass. It has to be thin enough to cut through by hand, and to keep the overall weight of the fans down. This size was big enough to make two sets of fans and a headpiece).

- Fan pattern (you can make one or use the one provided!) and pen

- Aviation Snips

- Dremel (you will need a wheel and sander/drinder bit) and File

- Drill

- 2 rivets

- Strong ribbon, needle and thread (and a some sewing scissors and a thimble)

- Safety goggles and work gloves. Safety first people!

Step 2: Trace Pattern Onto Brass

Print the fan pattern out (or make your own) and trace it onto the 'back' of your brass. The metal sheet I bought had a protective removable layer on one side, so I made all of my marks on.

(The 'side notches' in my fan pattern aren't shown in the picture as I cut out my fan first and then traced and snipped those out.)

Step 3: Cut Out Fans

Using your aviation snips, carefully cut out the fan pieces. You'll definitely want to wear work gloves at this stage because the brass fan pieces will be sharp.

Step 4: Drill/Dremel Holes

The fan pieces will be joined together by a rivet near the bottom, and also with a ribbon running through the middle section.

Drill a hole the size of your rivet in each of the fan sections near the bottom. Using a dremel wheel, make a vertical cut (about the size of your ribbon piece) in the middle of each fan piece.

Make sure you're wearing your safety gear, just in case.

Step 5: File/Dremel Edges

After removing the backing on the fans, sand down those edges! I used both a dremel and a hand-file along the edgers of my fans and headpiece. This may take some time, but it's better than having sharp fans!

Wear your safety gear! Nobody like metal slivers in the eye!

Step 6: Rivet Fans Pieces Together

Take half of the fan pieces you have cut out and rivet them together. Repeat this for the remainder of the fan pieces.

I used regular copper rivets, but I recommend using some Chicago Screw Rivets - far easier to work with and you won't need an anvil!

Step 7: Weave Ribbon in Fans

Fan your, well, fans out to their 'maximum' spread (the edges of each piece should just touch one another. The drawing above does not show this. Do as I say, not as I draw). Weave a piece of ribbon through the middle cut in each section; close the fan again to make sure you did this right. Then secure the ribbon in place by looping the ends back around the first and last fan pieces and stitching them to the ribbon in the first/last cut.

Step 8: Open for Display

These fans are not made to snap open with the flick of the wrist...but they do look pretty cool. You may have noticed that your sections are slightly warped after cutting them out, and even though you have the weaved ribbon in place so you can fully open your fans to a maximum length, you may knock them out of alignment, or you can't get them to stay just where you want...BUT lucky for us there are those half-diamond notches in our fan sections! Not only are they a design aesthetic on the "real" Kyoshi fans, they will keep your fans pieces in place. Simple open up your fan, and then overlap the notches of one piece with the piece beside it. Voila!

Photo by Aka Maple

And here's some more Avatar Kyoshi photos.

Now go deliver some justice and/or peace!



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    13 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Thank you! My kid couldn't have metal props so I used foiled cardboard from a party supply/cake decorating place. Now I want to make a brass fan for the wall!

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Oooh, that's a great idea (and vendor to get it from!) for safety/no-metal-prop-allowed-venues. I've recently discovered aluminum tape (to use for swords) - and there's gold tape too! Another good substitute if brass is hard to come by (or, er, is not allowed)


    3 years ago on Introduction

    Ha! I was wanting to make these about 2 years ago when I was on a serious Avatar kick but I could not find anything online showing how to make them.....same case with sokka's boomerang (I actually took matters into my own hands with that one and made an instructable myself). Great work!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I am considering a similar project, and am curious, do you think an eighth of an inch thick sheets would be able to be cut by hand?

    3 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I know very, very little about working with metal but I think for that thickness you would need a saw.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I am trying to make this, and it needs to be a little thicker, but I don't need it to be as thick as it is here. I don't have a saw, Just a dremel. What do you think the max thickness is that I could go to before needing a saw?


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I'm not sure - if it were me, I'd ask the people I'm buying the metal from for their advice.


    4 years ago

    good work! I love the avatar series!