Make a Georgian Fan

Fans were very important to women in the 18th Century. Their clothes were very heavy and hot and so the flutter of a fan was the perfect cooling solution. Ladies became rather inventive and creative with their fans and, at the back of their fans they started to hide dance moves, the rules for card games and short poems. In some instances they even cut eye holes into their fans and used them as masks at masquerade balls. Can you think of something clever to hide in your fan?

hand drawn Georgian lady

You will need:

One piece of A4 paper (you may wish to use coloured paper)
Felt tip pens/crayons/colouring pencils/paints –whatever you prefer.
Additional decorative features –you may choose to use feathers, sequins, buttons, ribbons, bows etc


Decorate your A4 paper on both sides. Remember to have it at landscape orientation and to leave a gap at the bottom (where the handle will be) of about 5 centimetres.
Fold the paper once, about half an inch/one and a half cm wide.
Turn the paper over, and fold again.
Continue to turn and fold the paper, until the whole piece of paper has folds all the way across.
Pinch the paper at the bottom end where you have left your 5cm gap and secure in with glue, sticky tape or ribbon.
Now you have a completed fan, why not add some more decorations to it? Look at the gestures below and practice them with your friends.


Fan language was understood by nearly anybody at the time. Now that you have a fan, try your hand at some of these commonly used and understood gestures:
Carrying the open fan in the left hand: “Come and talk to me.”
Twirling the fan in the left hand: “We are being watched.”
Touching the finger to the tip of the fan: “I wish to speak with you.”
Letting the fan rest on the right cheek: “Yes.”
Letting the fan rest on the left cheek: “No.”
Placing the fan behind the head with finger extended: “Goodbye.”