Where to now?

I’m finally done and dusted with the Choi Sik Guan Gong lion (rainbow lion). So where to now?

I’ve decided to use this blog to document all my other little projects that I do relating to lion dancing and lion heads and to the lion dancing scene in Sydney (from my miniscule perspective). Just check the My Other Projects tab in the menu for updates.

I’ve got a couple of projects lined up already.
– There’s two more lion heads from the Dragon Style School that have taken a heck of a beating. Outwardly they still look good, but I’ve had a good inspection of them both and they’ll need a fair bit of work. One’s a Liu Bei and the other is a Zhang Fei. They’ll be a good start.
– I’m keen on making a golden/bronze/ orange coloured lion head, not too dissimilar to the Golden lion that Yun Fook Tong used in that 1986 lion king competition.
– I also have another rainbow lion tail sitting around which needs a head to attach itself to so maybe a fresh faced Liu Bei lion head at some point.
My kung fu Senior in Hong Kong has also been kind enough to save me another battered lion head from a charcoal ending so I can see it out to its former glory. (I don’t know how I’m going to actually fix him especially with the lion being an 8 hour flight away. Maybe I’ll carry him home on my next visit that way).

To kick things off. I’m going to take you back in time to the the old black and white Zhang Fei head that I restored a few years back.
Zoe’s had a look at it and isn’t too impressed with my shaky paint job so she’s decided that she’ll give him a one over to sharpen him up. She’s still in the process of doing so. I’ve also ordered a black and white tail for him and it’s arrived so here is the complete lion minus a second coat of painted love from Zoe.

Front on view of lion. sitting on its new tail

Front on view of lion. sitting on its new tail

The tail in all its glory

The tail in all its glory

The original neck piece

The original neck piece

Neck piece reunited with its head and new tail

Neck piece reunited with its head and new tail


Rabbit fur and eyelids

It’s been a long while since my last post.
I’ve moved houses and gone bush for a work stint hence the delay.

I’ve come home for the weekend and managed to work on the eyelids and stick on the rabbit fur. The thickness of the rabbit fur is different in the various areas of the lion. I wanted it to be as sparse as possible to give the lion’s furry bit an uneven almost unclean look. At the back of my mind as I was gluing it on was a scene early on in Jet Li’s Once Upon a Time in China part 3 when Wong Fei Hung’s father grabs a hold of one of his student’s brushes and gives him a tip on how to paint the lion heads face. His main message was along the lines of the strokes shouldn’t be too clean because no face is ever perfect or even.


Painting finally completed!!!

It’s done!!! I wish I could say I painted it all on my own but alas, it’s was all Zoe’s brilliance and hard work which has gotten us to this point!!!! What a relief to finally get the painting done and I must admit, I’m a very happy man.
To start off with, here is a picture of my lounge room which I doubled as my workshop. One corner ceiling was converted to display my completed items. Just a little bit of motivation to keep me going every time I sat down to watch TV….. ……..I would plonk myself on the couch and call out “Zoe, you haven’t finished painting the lion” before proceeding to relax and watch TV while supervising Zoe =D Here is Zoe hard at work putting on the final touches
You can just make out the bottom of my little TV above her head. I took this picture, sitting on the couch. BEST Thanks to the guys on liondancing.org/forum for advising me on the use of varnish. I ended up with a Josonja’s Polyurethane water based gloss varnish and applied 3 coats to give the lion a heck of a glossy look.

And without further adieu, here are some of the photos

This is what the eyes ended up looking like. A combination of the previous two eyes we had earlier. 

And …………………………. here he is!!!

And the lovely Zoe with our painted lion head.
Picasso in the making.

Hope you like the look of it so far

painting progress

More colours go on and the lion is starting to take on some life.

I should note that the painting was a bit all over the place. Zoe got excited and started going ahead painting the details in before she got the base colours right. There’s a few bits which you can see which look quite messy, where she’s painted over sections roughly in prepartion to fix it up afterwards.

Note along the cheek, zoe had initially painted in the black spikes but painted over it to get the base blue colour right

By this stage, Zoe had decided that she would put the detailing in a bit later and get the colours right so you’ll see certain sections like the black swirls around the nose and the spikes along the top lip with unclean lines. 

We had to improvise for the bit on the side of the eye. We ended up with a simple stripe pattern.
Front shot with cleaner lines.


Step 22 and so the painting begins

I thought I’d use this post to thank my girlfriend Zoe for volunteering to do the painting.
It’s probably better that she does it because she’s much more of a perfectionist so I know that the lion will come out much better than anything I could have produced.
My little contribution was to sketch on the lion all the patterns and to explain to her what needs to be painted what colours and to orientate her to the various screenshots I have taken. My other little contribution was to paint the ears so I can say that at least I painted a part of the lion myself =D

Check it out
This was my contribution with the painting. I suspect Zoe will repaint it. She thinks I did a rushed job and my lines aren’t clean enough. 
And now back to Zoe’s painting
The left and right eyes are different. She was experimenting with shading and blends

Zoe thought it would be cool to have an aqua nose. 
I got her to change it back to green. 

Keep your eyes peeled for more to come

Step 20 part 2- sketching the design

Ok, so managing to get screenshots of lion head is one thing, translating that into clean lines and a design with definite colours is another.
I managed to work out a fair bit of the design but I had to make up certain bits.
I’m glad that this lion had bristle fur so that I could appreciate the painting.

My sketches on paper
Sketches on the lion

Step 2: The main body

My lion head was going to be a replica of the model lion head I had, as such,

The main body consisted of three strips of bamboo bound together (I didn’t have a single thick bamboo piece) that took on the main structural support of the main lion body. For the long section, I used 3 bamboo strips fasted together to make one strong sturdy strip and tied it to the base.

For the second shorter one, I ended up using a rattan/ cane ring which I found at an arts and c rafts store (probably used as a base for other arts projects) separated the join and stretched it out to form a large curve. The length was perfectly matched to the original.

From this it was a bit tedious measuring each bamboo strip before tying it on to the main supporting strips to start forming the main body.

As you can see, my measuring wasn’t all that up to scratch and the head was a bit lop sided.
Hopefully it doesn’t affect things too much. I’m hoping with the finished product that a bit of the fur, pom poms and mirror will hide some of the imperfections.

Feelings so far

So far I’ve found making this lion head quite relaxing. It’s like a giant puzzle!
As a young kid, I’ve always enjoyed making lego bits, or gundam models and giant puzzles. This feels exactly like that. A lot of the time, I find myself sitting and staring at the model lion head and then at my skeletal lion head and think, wow! I have such a long way to go but as I start figuring out which part of the lion I should add on next and then length of the pieces and their positions starting coming together, then it becomes a great feeling as I can see progress.

Hint on binding
In my first project, I experimented with different ways of trying to tie the bamboo bits together. I’ve tried twine, paper ties, hot glue and finally thin metal wire. I’ve found thin metal wire to be the easiest to use by far, producing both strong joints, quick tying times and little mess.
I’m not too sure how the joints will do in the long run, especially being stressed through all the bends in the wire as well as the vigorous shaking that it will be put through but in the meantime, it’s the easiest medium to use.

Snapshot in time- a close up view of my wire handiwork

Step 1: The Base 21st February 2011

For those of you who aren’t familiar with lion dancing or lion heads, the base is bade of a large D ring with two bars cutting across the flat art of the D to form handles

The only types of bases I’ve seen are either made using thicker pieces of bamboo or a thin metal bar for the D part and either wooden or PVC handles

I opted for the metal bar for the D ring after failing to find anywhere that sold bamboo strips.
They’re quite easy to find at any hardware store.  Bending it wasn’t too hard either. I used the base of my existing lion as a template and bent the bar around it to get the right curvature. Then fold the remain parts to get the flat surface. The two ends were joined together with some thick metal wire. I’ve seen other people drill holes into the bar itself and use that to tie the ends together but I didn’t have the necessary tools at hand.

For the handles, I decided to fashion them out of a wooden broomstick handle I found at the hardware store .
I sawed it as best I could to get both ends level. I ended up sawing the tips of the handles to flatten it out so they would sit on the bar snugly without rolling around and then using thick metal wire to fasten them to the base. (Without too much woodwork knowledge or proper equipment, it was quite difficult getting the planes of the flat bits equal on both ends of the handle. It ended up being a trial an error job)