Chinese Fan

Ideal for a hot day or to accessorise, a fan is an essential part of China and its culture. Ancient Chinese fans were delicately painted or embroidered with natural imagery like flowers and birds. Sometimes called ‘moon fans’, they were beautiful circular designs shaped like a paddles.

Chinese Fan

Skill Level

Beginner. Adult supervision needed

Time to Make

2 hours + drying time for paint and glue

Adult Supervision Needed


How to Make

  1. Draw around a small cardboard plate onto a piece of papyrus paper using a pencil to mark out a circle. Lightly outline a simple design inside the circle. Keep the shapes simple, for example, you could draw an outline for some flowers, branches, a bird or a landscape.
  2. Mix up some paint colours in a tray. Make pastel shades by adding white to a small amount of some darker colours. Paint over the outline in the circle, keeping the brushstrokes loose and light. Try to keep the paint fairly dry, so the paper doesn’t crinkle. Leave to dry.
  3. To make the circular fan border, paint the reverse (white) side of a small cardboard plate in black then leave it to dry. Make a cut 4-5cm towards the middle of the plate then cut around the edge, using the raised patterns as a guide for cutting off a 6-7mm border. Tape over the join in the border with masking tape then paint black and leave to dry. Save the left over painted plate for Step 8.
  4. Cut out the circle with the painting on papyrus paper. Glue the thin black border on top. The border should fit exactly over the painting, if there is any overhanging paper, trim around the edge.
  5. To make a back section for the fan, cut a 3cm long a 1.5cm wide slot in the edge of another small cardboard plate, cutting the slot towards the middle of the plate. Glue the plate face down (white side up) onto the back of the fan; glue around the edge so it sticks to the border.
  6. For the fan handle, fix a wooden craft stick inside the slot using double-sided tape. Stick another craft stick overlapping first one, to make the handle longer, 10-11cm. Wrap masking tape around the handle and over the slot on the back of the fan. Check the handle is securely fixed and not pulling on the papyrus paper. Paint the handle black and leave it to dry.
  7. Wrap an 80cm length of coloured embroidery thread several times around the top of the fan, then wrap it along the handle, around the base then back up the handle in the opposite direction to make a crossing-over pattern. Tie the thread at the top.
  8. Glue the left over piece of plate to the back of the fan and fill in the remaining unpainted areas in black.
Chinese Fan Chinese Fan Chinese Fan

Top Tip

Experiment painting with coloured brushstrokes onto some scrap paper before painting on the papyrus.

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