Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Fan making process - A nautical fan. 1

At the moment, I am making a fan with a nautical motif for a lady in the States. The style is supposed to be 1760s - up to the early 70's, and it will have a colour scheme of sea blue (of course), cerulean and silver on cream. She wants images of ships and a couple, so I have found inspiration in images of fans like this one below...

Not 1760s or early 70's, but nice enough...
I have tried on several occassions to write down the whole process of fan making as a hand book for myself, in order to avoid the most common mistakes. But, every time I have managed to forget something important, so that hand book would be unreliable as well as incredibly dull.
So, I will not share the whole process here, just a few selected parts...

I usually start by making a quite rough sketch of the motif...

To start with, one needs a template drawn from the *exact" measurements of the sticks, which determines not only the shape of the fan, but where all the folds will be placed...

The template is placed upon a lightbox (with tape, it is very important to make sure that the ¤%&ing thing doesn't move).
Template for a set of Chinese wooden sticks

Then, a paper is placed upon the lightbox, and the outlines for the fan leaf are drawn...
It is always the number of folds (or sections), which all have the same shape as the guard sticks, that determine the width of the fan, or the fan leaf. Without proper measurements, the folds get very uneven, making large sections of the leaf bulge out of the closed fan, and we don't want that to happen. (Of course it did, to some degree, on all my fans at the beginning of my "career".)

Therefore the sections/folds have to be counted numerous times, along with the number of sticks on the "skeleton", before continuing with the next step.

The outlines are drawn and I have cut out the shape which is to become the template for the fan leaf.
The leaf is folded to mark out the middle.

The design is drawn onto the template. On fans with vignettes like these, I start by drawing on one half of the fan, and trace through the second half reversed on the lightbox.

Next time, I will start on the real leaf.
To be continued...


  1. The original fan in the first picture is lovely. Could you tell me more about where it is from? Is it in a museum or is there a picture of the entire fan on-line?

  2. Unfortunately I don't know anything about it, only that I saw it at an antiques fair in Stockholm a couple of years ago... the photo was taken by a friend. But I have more photos of it, including one of the entire fan. I guess i could share them here...

  3. Hello Aurora!

    My goodness, but your fans are so beyone beautiful! I love this nautical fan! I am so glad I found your blog so I can follow your creativity!!