Chinese Dragon Lantern

Chinese paper lanterns are often made to resemble butterflies, birds, dragonflies, and other animals, and are used for weddings, celebrations, and decoration. Ring in the fiery new year with this festive how-to.

Chinese Dragon Lantern

Photography: Rob Tannenbaum

Source: The Martha Stewart Show, January 2012


Resources: Red paper lanterns in a variety of sizes (we used 12-inch to 20-inch lanterns) available from Pearl River Mart. All other tools and materials available from your local crafts-supply store.


  • Tissue paper (black, red, and gold)

  • Masking tape

  • Craft knife

  • Pencil

  • Scissors

  • Lanterns

  • Elmer’s white glue

  • Water

  • Foam brush

  • Hot-glue gun and hot-glue sticks (optional)

  • String


  1. Download dragon templates, adjust size as desired, and print out.

  2. For head and tail, attach templates to sheet of black tissue paper with masking tape and cut out with craft knife.

  3. For scales, place about five sheets of black tissue paper together and fold in half. Place scale template on fold, trace desired number of times with pencil and cut out with scissors.

  4. Assemble desired size and number of lanterns.

  5. Mix one part water with one part Elmer’s white glue and, using a foam brush, apply mixture to paper lantern. Place cut-out tissue paper pieces onto lantern and brush again with water and glue mixture. Let dry.

  6. For tassel, fold full sheet of tissue paper in quarters. To create fringe, starting nine inches in from one short edge of paper, use craft knife to make lengthwise cuts every 1/2 inch.

  7. To create loop at top of tassel, roll and twist uncut portion of tissue. Fold roll in half and twist again. Secure with hot glue if desired and tie to lanterns with string.

  8. To store for future use, carefully remove tassels and collapse lanterns.


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