How to Make Simple Paper Chinese Fans

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Things You'll Need

  • White paper, 3 feet long by 8 or 9 inches wide

  • Watercolor markers and pens

  • Narrow masking tape

  • Wooden craft sticks

  • Glue

Create your own Chinese fans from paper and popsicle sticks.

Chinese fans were invented thousands of years ago. Originally invented to keep flies away and produce a cool breeze, fans picked up popularity in the higher classes. Fans made of silk didn't just keep faces cool--they became part of dances and ceremonies, as well as a silent mode of communication. Teach your children and students about these traditions by helping them make their own Chinese fans.


Step 1

Spread the paper out on a clean, flat work surface and plan your design. Traditional designs include birds with long, elegant feathers; cranes; koi fish; butterflies; weeping cherry trees; bonsai trees; and pagodas.

Step 2

Sketch an initial design with a fine-tipped black pen. Color in the details with larger watercolor markers. Start with the lightest colors, and add shading with darker colors. Allow the details to dry for about an hour.

Step 3

Turn your paper so it's a long, vertical sheet. Fold up the last 1/2 inch of the paper. Flip the paper over and fold the folded edge of the paper up another 1/2 inch. Continue this way until the entire paper is folded into an accordion.


Step 4

Push the folds of the accordion together so you have a thick rectangle of paper. Wrap the bottom 1/2 inch of the rectangle with a double layer of masking tape.

Step 5

Glue a craft stick on either end of your paper accordion. Position one end of each stick right above the masking tape wrapped around the bottom of the paper accordion. The opposite end of each stick should stick out at least 1 inch beyond the untaped end of the paper. Allow the glue to dry overnight.

Step 6

Open your fan by pulling the craft sticks away from each other. Fold the sticks downward toward the floor and press them together. This should create a circular fan shape.


Use stencils or a light desk to trace perfect designs onto your paper.

Use paper with a light-colored design already in place. Draw your additional figures over the design.

Tuck finished fans behind mirrors or pictures, hang them on the wall, or slip them into vases for homemade decorations.