How to Make a Paper Dragon

Create a gigantic papier-mache dragon for a playful indoor or outdoor accent.

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Materials and Tools:

sketch pad
black permanent marker
plastic jars
glass jars
chicken wire
wire and wire cutters
gravel or small stones
cardboard and cardboard tube
masking tape
wallpaper paste
white glue
carpenter's glue
container of water
brown craft paper
broken glass
gesso acrylic coating
acrylic paints - purple, metallic emerald green, metallic periwinkle blue
protective gloves and safety glasses
nail polish
glow-in-the-dark white paint
polymer clay


1. Draw a sketch of the dragon, noting the dimensions.

2. Build the armature of the body by first cutting an oval-shaped piece of cardboard. Cut a piece of chicken wire and wrap the end of the chicken wire around the perimeter of the oval-shaped cardboard.

3. Tape the base in place using masking tape. When working with chicken wire, wear protective gloves.

4. Fill a large jar with small stones for weight and tape it to the cardboard base inside the chicken wire.

5. Form the neck and head shape of the dragon with the chicken wire. Use pliers to connect the ends of the chicken wire together to form an enclosed tube form of the dragon.

6. Create cardboard ears shaped to add dimension by folding the triangular shapes down the center and taping them to hold the dimensional shape. Tape the ears to the top of the head and loop the tape through the chicken wire.

7. Cut triangle shapes out of cardboard for the spines along the dragon's back. Tape them to the chicken wire using masking tape.

8. To make the eyes, break a glass jar using a hammer and select two broken pieces of glass similar to the shape of an eye. With a black marker, draw the eyeballs onto the glass. Color the center of the eye opening with the black marker. Apply nail polish to the glass for the iris of the eye and the area surrounding the eyeball. Let dry. Apply white highlights to the eyeball with white glow-in-the-dark paint. Let dry. Tape the two eyes to the front of the head.

9. Cut short pieces from a cardboard tube to shape the nostrils. Attach them to the chicken wire portion of the snout on the face with masking tape.

10. Form a cardboard mouth and tape it in place inside the chicken wire snout.

11. Mix wallpaper paste in warm water and add white glue to strengthen.

12. Tear strips of brown craft paper in appropriate sizes. Soften them by placing them into a container of water.

13. Wring the excess water from the torn paper strips and spread the glue mixture onto the paper strips. Begin layering the paper strips on the armature. Start at the bottom and work up to the top. When the first layer is dry, apply a second layer, placing subsequent paper layers at 90 degrees to the previous layer wherever possible to strengthen. Let dry.

14. Add more layers of paper, usually six to eight layers for a piece this size. Let dry.

15. Form the eyelid and facial features of the papier-maché dragon using dry paper towels, which can be molded like clay.

16. Apply a coat of white acrylic gesso sealer to the entire outside paper layer. Let dry.

17. Paint the dragon in final colors, metallic emerald green for the body and metallic periwinkle blue for the spikes. Let dry. Apply a second coat and let dry.

18. Make a tongue from wired ribbon covered with papier-maché. Paint the tongue to match the inside of the mouth. Let dry. Glue the tongue inside the mouth using carpenter's glue. Let dry.

19. Form cone-shaped teeth from polymer clay. Glue the teeth inside the mouth with white glue.

20. Finish with two coats of lacquer, letting each coat dry before applying the next coat.

21. Form the center U-shaped body section using chicken wire armature. Form the tail section from chicken wire. Make the spikes for the back using cardboard triangular-shaped pieces and tape them to the back using masking tape. Cover the body and tail sections with the brown craft paper strips as described above. Apply gesso, paint and polyurethane to match the head section as described above.

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