How to Make a Korean Fan: A Korean Art Project with Kids
Traditional Folk dances in Korea are often ‘fan’ dances, using large, intricate and beautiful fans measuring two to three feet across. In Korean it is called buchaechum (boo-chay-choom). The dancers use the fans to imitate nature like butterflies, birds and flowers. Several dancers will coordinate together in a colorful display that will wow children and adults alike. To see a sample of those dances see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWdwizX9LDg, which is a lovely representation. Make sure you check it out before you try to show the kids to make sure the link is still active!
Image by np&djjewellvia Flickr*Photo shows a troup of dancers with traditional fans.
Creating one of those fans in your classroom or home is actually easy to do. They won’t be made out of exactly the same materials and won’t have the master level skill that the professionals have, but they will be fun for your kids and lovely to display.
Materials: A roll of white paper (like butcher paper) that is at least two feet high and can be cut off in three foot chunks. Thin wooden sticks, like bamboo skewers, 7-9 for each fan, 2 popsicle sticks for each fan, yarn in various colors, thin feather boas (can be found in 6 foot or better increments at craft stores), pencils, paint brushes, tempera paint, scissors, clear tape (a roll for a pair of children to share), and a heavy duty stapler.
- Cut off three foot pieces of paper off the roll of white paper, one for each child.
- Have the children draw out floral designs on one side of the paper starting about six or seven inches from the bottom. I usually have them measure the space with a hand or two (depending on how small the children have). Doesn’t have to be perfectly measured, as art is infinitely forgiving. Have them write their names on, small on the edge.
- When they are finished drawing pass out tempera paint in bright colors and have the children paint the flowers. They don’t need to do the background, unless they really want to.
- Turn over the paper when dry (in a school setting this might mean the next session with that class), and repeat steps 2 and 3.
- When the paint is dry, have the children fold the large paper into a paper fan, like an accordion. With small children I usually do this with them on a small paper first and then the big one when they get the hang of it. You might have to help some kids get started and demonstrate it a couple of times, just to make sure.
- When it is all folded pass out the scissors. The children will then cut a rectangle out of the bottom (the five or six inches with no flowers) about six inches on one side of the folded whole. This might be hard for little fingers to cut through, so for younger children this step might have to be done for them.
- Using the bamboo skewers, tape one on one side of each fold, with the end coming down one to two inches on the rectangle that was cut out. One piece of clear tape on the bottom, one piece on the top, one on one side of each folded ‘mountain’ in the accordion folds. These will support the fan so it doesn’t collapse under its own weight.
- Staple the handle together on the bottom of each fan (teachers might have to do this as it is hard to get a staple through all that paper.
- Tape two popsicle sticks on the handle, one on one side and then the other, so that the handle doesn’t collapse. They should start roughly where the bamboo skewer did.
- Wrap yarn around the handle, over the popsicle sticks, and into the rectangle for a soft and attractive grip.
- Spread out the fan and check it out. Does it fall over? Do the sticks need to adjusted?
- At the top of the fan staple (or hot-glue) the feathered boa, about 3 feet per fan, adding a staple at the top and bottom of each ridge. Older children will be able to do this step themselves if you can find enough staplers.
- To be authentic, they need to have two fans, but that’s a lot of work! Only do that if your group is super into it and wanting to imitate some Korean dances.
- Now comes the fun part. Have your group imitate the Korean dancers. Can they make butterflies? Flowers? Birds? What else can they do with their fans? Can they do more things with a partner?