Category Archives: Lion Dance Equipment

Ace is coming together!

I spent the last few days painting Ace, and it’s finally coming together! Just a few more parts to paint and I can finally start putting on embellishments. I’m hoping I can finish painting in a week.

Check it out!

Lighted eyes!

Pillow made by my girlfriend and mom. Thanks!

Finished painting the remaining half of the left side.

Painted the gold trim on side.

Front gold trim painted too!





Chris Low Cont’d

Two nights ago, I went to visit Chris Low at his house for the first time! I also brought along Ace for him to see. It was an awesome visit. 😀

At approximately 8:30PM, my friend and I arrived at his house. Chris walked outside to greet us, and soon after, his youngest son Davy came out to greet us too! We brought Ace inside his house, but oops, I realized I was interrupting his dinner! Sorry Chris! His wife Sandra and the kids Danny and Ally continued to eat while we talked about lions.

I soon noticed one room with three lions sitting on a shelf. The first one was a pretty battered up Guan Gong lion that is Chris’ next project. It was originally from his club and had thin wooden dowels in the frame. That was the first time I’ve seen anything like it! But like he said, they weren’t flexible enough to be used in a lion head.

Next project!

Wooden dowels as part of the lion frame

The second lion was the Lo An Kee lion restoration that was previously mentioned on my blog. Click here if you haven’t read about it. I never got a chance to take a picture of the lion after the eye-dotting ceremony, but here’s the horn with all the accessories!

Awakened and accessorized!

The third lion is a really special one – the first lion he built from scratch that was posted on Lion’s Cave with step-by-step instructions! I remember seeing it back in the early 2000’s when I was just starting to lion dance. It was one of the most amazing projects that I’ve seen at the time. Even now, that lion is extremely sturdy and practically looks unused even though Chris had used it numerous times back in the day. The frame was made with bamboo strips taken from window blinds. I also vaguely remember reading something about free USPS shipping bags that were used as a layer of paper mache. If I also remember correctly, thin strips of packaging tape were used as the binding medium. Cool stuff!

The lion that started it all.

Inside the lion. See the USPS logo?

Two more potential lion projects were taken into the living room for me to see. Meanwhile, Danny pulled out his lion and started dancing it around the house!

Danny lion dancing around the house.

Soon after, Ally decided to join too!

Ally joins Danny as she plays the tail!

Danny’s lion is actually featured on Of Course Lion Source as a Can Do Lion Builder project. If you haven’t seen it, click here.

Later on, Ally even took out her pet caterpillar to show me. Most people are scared of critters, but she loves them! I asked her when it will turn into a butterfly but she didn’t know yet. What she did know was that it ate a lot and slept a lot, hence its name, “piggy”. Hahaha

Anyway, back to lions!

It turns out that the Lo An Kee restoration that Chris completed last year also had a sibling. He got both lions together, but hasn’t started on the second one yet. Can’t wait to see it started!

Another Lo An Kee frame waiting to get restored.

The last lion is a blank that was supposed to be a Bak Wan replica. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite match the Bak Wan shape. It’s ok though, because the shape isn’t very typical either, which gives it a uniqueness of its own. Can’t wait to see this project started too!

The intended Bak Wan replica.

That was it for the lions, but we continued to converse and converse. It felt good to speak to such an experienced lion dancer! It was only ten years ago that I thought I would never meet this guy. Next thing you know, I’m standing inside his house!

A little sadness came to me when I had to leave. I was just about to start the engine and get going, but Ally came running outside with two Easter eggs to wish us a happy day-after-Easter! Thanks Ally!

A gift from Ally, filled with candies!

Oh yea, if you guys didn’t know, Chris is writing a book on how to build a lion head from scratch! I was able to flip through it and let me tell you, that thing is AMAZING! So many detailed pictures, diagrams, and instructions. He started on it over a year ago and is still working on it! Click here for more information.

Vincent Nguy’s Finished Lion!

A fellow Can Do Lion Builder just finished building a lion head from scratch! Click here to check out his blog. Here’s a sneak preview:


Vincent Nguy is what I call creativity at its finest! I visited his blog often to check out how the lion is progressing, and from step 1, I was already amazed! He started with a broomstick handle and a metal base rim! For the pillow, he used a doggy bed. Also, instead of the traditional paper bindings, he used thin wire. Rather than building the frame with all bamboo strips, he also incorporated rattan strips. I’ve always thought about using rattan strips for the parts of a lion that has really tight curves. Now that I’ve seen it done, I’ll probably incorporate it into my next project. So cool!

Great job, Vincent! Congratulations! 😀

Reunited Dragon Tail

I’ve returned the dragon tail and it is now reunited with the body and the head! Exciting!


Dragon Tail and Stuffs

Hello again my fellow lion enthusiasts. It’s been a really long time! I’ve been pretty busy with school and Alex disappeared off the face of earth. Just kidding 😀

I haven’t finished painting Ace yet, but I hope to complete the whole project by the end of 2013. Didn’t I say that in 2011?

Anyway, several months ago, I helped restore a dragon tail for a friend in LA. It was just finished last night!

Here’s how the dragon tail looked originally. I’d say it was still in decent condition.

Dragon tail before restoration

A closer look showed damage on the fins. Removing the paper actually revealed that most of the fins were snapped from the main frame.

Fins were pretty banged up

The fins were repaired and reinforced.

Repaired dragon tail frame

After the frame was fixed, a layer of gauze and paper was put on the frame. The papering process wasn’t finished but it was time for my winter break! So I brought the dragon tail back to SF to work on.

Paper mache completed

After two layers of paper, a coat of white was painted on the dragon tail. Then I sketched the patterns and started painting!

Upside orange raindrops on the base coat of white

Most of the patterns were pretty simple to paint. It was similar to coloring within the lines, much like a kid’s coloring book. The most complicated part was blending colors on the fin, but that wasn’t too bad.

Scales completed and blended colors on fin

I couldn’t finish painting the dragon tail during my winter break, so off it went back to LA again.

Paint almost completed. Just needed white shadows on flames

After painting, the entire dragon tail was coated with a glossy varnish. Velcro was hot glued back on, and the project was complete!


Hope you guys enjoyed this much needed update!

Another Update on Ace

It’s been a while since I’ve given an update on Ace, so here it goes!

During winter break, I was able to paint most of Ace’s right side, including his cheeks, gills, and all the corresponding fins.

After winter break ended, I didn’t get to see Ace until my spring break, which just ended today. I was able to paint a little bit more during this short week.

I also painted a preliminary Zhao Pai. The two characters are Ai Si, which just sounds like a Chinese pronunciation of Ace. Thanks to my fluent Chinese friends for helping me with this one.

Notice that there is a lot of white space on the sides of the characters. I want to fill this white space up so the Zhao Pai doesn’t look too plain. Also, the gap between the two characters is huge. I already started the process of fixing this before the break ended. If you guys have any other ideas on the Zhao Pai, leave it in the comments please. Thanks!

Chris Low

Many lion dancers from the late ‘90s to about ’05 have probably heard of his name. He is the youthful,  paparazzi-chased, and handsome creator of probably the largest lion dance resource website on the internet – Lions Cave

Around the time when I first started lion dancing, I came across the Lions Cave website while surfing the internet. I couldn’t believe it; there was so much information about lion dancing that I’ve never known. At the time, the internet wasn’t as well developed as it is now. Communication between large numbers of people occurred through mailing lists that worked using email addresses. I still remember the ecstatic feeling running through me when a new response from the mailing list arrived to my email inbox.  Oh, the memories…

I’ve always known of Chris, but haven’t met him in person until this past Saturday. We’re usually at different parts of California, so it wasn’t likely that I would magically bump into him. But after confirming my acceptance letter to UCLA last year, I realized it was finally possible to meet him in person. After all, who wouldn’t want to know a stud like him?

Last year, he took on a restoration project of an old Luo An style lion head. I was excited when I heard about this project because Luo An style lion heads were some of the most beautifully crafted pieces of art from Hong Kong. After one long year of hard work, he finished the project just in time for the New Year.

Chris invited me to the Hoi Gong ceremony for his newly finished project. This was my chance to meet the celebrity! Anyway, the lion was dotted at one of the Immortal’s performances. It was danced by two of the younger team members, and the honor of dotting was done by Marty Chiu, the original donator of the lion.

I arrived at the location about the same time that Chris did. As I walked toward him with excitement, I saw the expression that he recognized me! After the handshakes and small talk, he went to set up the performance. The Hoi Gong ceremony was nice and simple – red paint substitutes the cinnabar/chicken blood, artificial green onions and golden flowers adorn the horn, and the red ribbon ties it all together around the horn. Unfortunately, the ribbon wasn’t tight enough and the adornments weren’t affixed well. Many of the attached items came loose immediately after the lion awakened. The show still went on though! After the lion cleaned itself, it ate its first meal consisting of lettuce and a red envelope. The ceremony ended with the new lion greeting some older lions from the Immortals.

Dotting the Ear

It has awaken!

Greeting of the Lions

I’m glad I was there to witness the whole ceremony. Well done on the lion, Chris!

A brilliant idea for two toned fur outline of the mirror.

A side view.

Yogi posing with the lion.

Update on Ace

The original due date for this project was the end of August, but apparently, I couldn’t finish him on time.  I was hoping I could finish him before I moved down to Los Angeles for school.  The truth is, I’m not even half done yet.  In fact, the due date was quite unreasonable and naïve.

Here’s what I have done so far.

Ace's blank ZhaoPai

Ace's side

How Ace looks from the front.

Hopefully, I can finish him during my winter break.  Until then, ciao!

Painting Lion Ear

I got a new camera (Panasonic Lumix DMC-S1) recently and decided to film a short duration of a lion ear getting painted. Unfortunately, my camera only records in 2gb segments and it doesn’t let you know when it reaches the limit. That explains why there’s a small chunk of the video missing, if you pay attention really closely. This is also my first video I’ve made (since 8th grade, the Windows Movie Maker days) using Sony Vegas. It took me about 6 hours to figure out everything…all for a 45 second video.

There is 24 minutes of footage condensed into about 30 seconds. It may seem like a long time for me to take almost half an hour to paint just the red portions, but my hands were shaking and I was worried about my hand touching freshly painted portions. That actually happened once but the smear wasn’t too noticeable. I fixed it right away and it’s not there anymore.

Anyways, enough words. Time for the video! Enjoy!

The Story of Ace

About four years ago, a good friend of mine brought me an old lion head named Ace.  He mentioned to me that Ace needed some minor repairs and honored me with this task.  I gladly accepted without having even seen the lion yet.  At a first glance, Ace looked fine to me.  It wasn’t until my friend lifted the lion head that I realized how damaged Ace really was.  From afar, here’s how Ace looked like:

Ace before repairs started

It just looks like an old wrinkly lion head with the droopy eyed syndrome, right?  The real problem was in the framework; the right side of the lion frame had completely detached from the base rim.  It was definitely not a minor problem, but I still took the job.  As I looked over Ace at home, I realized that this lion wasn’t just an ordinary lion; there was probably a rich amount of history with it. This is when I learned about the story of Ace.

History buried within

Ace was owned by a really kind woman in Sacramento, who lent Ace to UC Irvine’s Southern Young Tigers lion dance team.  My good friend had started this team, and I presume he was the one who  borrowed Ace.  At the time, Southern Young Tigers was still a newly established team; Ace was really important to them.  Most new lion dance teams know that during their initial year or two, they will not have a lion head to work with.  To most new teams, a brand new lion head is just simply too expensive and unaffordable.  Many years after the team was established, they were able to obtain many newer  lion heads.  By then, Ace was old and was starting to break, but it was never fixed properly.  As time passed, Ace’s damages kept spreading along the frame.  Finally, it ended up in an unusable state, so my good friend came to me with Ace.  He just wanted some simple repairs and “touch ups”, but I suggested something different.

Knowing that a lot of the paper mache had to be ripped off to fix Ace, I suggested that a complete restoration be done.  Even if I fixed the detached frame, there would be many other places prone to breaking.  The frame already had a ridiculous amount of loose joints and broken bamboo strips.  I wanted to restore the beauty of Ace.  It was strongly believed that Ace can be a beautiful lion head again.

Initially, the head would return to UC Irvine after the repairs and “touch ups”, but after the original owner said yes to the full restoration, Ace will be returned back to Sacramento.  When the green light was given, I ripped off all the paper mache.

Bones of Ace - the frame

To my surprise, I found even more loose joints and broken bamboo pieces.  It almost seemed as if Ace was abused.  It took me almost 20 hours to fix the damage!  After most of the damage was fixed, I started the most tedious process – paper mache.  This is one of the hardest and longest steps of lion head restoration.

The first 8 paper mache squares

Hours and hours have passed, but I’ve only paper mache’d about half of the lion.  Here is it’s current state.

Pretty much the entire back of Ace's head has been paper mache'd

Hopefully, I’ll finish restoring Ace by the end of the year!