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Paper Dragon

The dragon -- the only supernatural creature in the Asian zodiac -- epitomizes strength, endurance, virility, and brilliance. It's also the ultimate good-luck symbol. Create a small-scale version of the traditional Chinese paper dragon with decorative paper and chopsticks.




  • Dragon template
  • Bristol board
  • Scissors
  • Construction or origami paper
  • Pinking shears or Fiskars "Wave" decorative edgers
  • Glue
  • Tissue paper
  • Sponge brush
  • Chopsticks
  • Hole punch
  • Brass paper fasteners


  1. Step 1

    Use our dragon template, or draw your own dragon with a head, two middle body sections, and a tail. If using template, enlarge it 200 percent. Trace template onto two sheets of Bristol board. The dragon will have a front and back. Cut out dragon pieces.

  2. Step 2

    Cut a variety of strips of construction or origami paper. Cut one end with pinking shears or Fiskars "Wave" decorative edgers and the other side with scissors. The strips should be about 1 inch longer than the width of your dragon and about 2 inches wide.

  3. Step 3

    To make the dragon's head, glue a solid piece of construction paper onto each piece of the head. Trim around the outline of the head. Glue some strips onto the neck area. Cut white paper for the eyes, teeth, and nostrils; black circles for the pupils; and a corresponding color for the eyelids. Glue to face.

  4. Step 4

    To make the dragon's hair, cut pieces of colored construction paper using the small flame shape from the template as a guide. Glue these pieces in a flaming-hair pattern around the head.

  5. Step 5

    To make the dragon's body and tail, glue the construction paper or origami strips onto the dragon sections starting at the end of the tail. Overlap the strips to make a fish-scale pattern. Continue to glue the strips on all of the sections. Trim the edges of the strips.

  6. Step 6

    To make the dragon spikes on the body, glue triangle-shaped pieces of tissue paper to the inside of one piece of each section.

  7. Step 7

    With a sponge brush, spread glue on the inside of all the dragon sections. Glue one-quarter of a chopstick to the inside of the dragon's head and tail; these will serve as puppet handles. Glue all the front and back sections together. Let dry, about 1 hour.

  8. Step 8

    Using a hole punch, punch a hole at the ends of each connecting section. Connect the sections of the dragon with brass paper fasteners.

Martha Stewart Kids, Volume 11 2004



Reviews (8)

  • amoreena 25 Jan, 2009

    this was a fun craft. my 8 year old son even wanted to make one. i found it was a lot of cutting though because we did the entire dragon in 'scales'. truly a simple work of art.

  • izzielove 24 Jan, 2009

    do you think this would be easy enough for a 14 year old girl to make? my mom is having a chinese new year party in a week and i would like to contribute to the decorations :).

  • jacsmama 24 Jan, 2009

    The HP site was too hard to navigate...this is the address for the Chinese new years crafts. I think you will like what you find. PS the dragon was great to make and I just used old wrapping paper!

  • jacsmama 24 Jan, 2009

    Go to the HP printer site and I think it was under winter crafts. I just downloaded some beautiful lanterns, they also have door hangings as well as Chinese take-out boxes and fortune cookies that match.

  • CraftyLadyTOO 23 Jan, 2009

    I think I'll try to make these, only smaller version, for centerpiece at a luncheon in May. I'm on the decorating committee and the topic is China. Anyone with any suggestions for decorations send me at barbky at aol dot com.

  • DRae 22 Jan, 2009

    This is a keeper. But I am most definitely using fabric. Might even use it for a kids quilt!

  • amy1963 22 Jan, 2009

    what a great idea. i would add some ribbons and maybe a little glitter.

  • amy1963 22 Jan, 2009

    what a fun idea. i would jazz it up a bit more with some ribbon and perhaps glitter.