Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Decorative Paper Lanterns

Want to jazz up some plain paper lanterns? This tutorial from Make Grow Gather shows a simple technique for adding some flair to lanterns. The best part is they looking stunning both during the day and at night!

What you'll need:

• Glue sticks or a glue gun (if you have one, lucky person).

• Sheets of colored tissue paper cut into approximately 6-inch squares, no need to be exact here. I went with three colors and used about four sheets of each color, for a total of twelve sheets of tissue paper for each lantern. You can feel free to use as many colors as you'd like or stick to a single color.

• Three objects with round, flat ends that range from 2 to 1 inch in diameter. You'll be using these to form and glue down the tissue so objects you can wash with soap and water are best since the glue can seep through the tissue. I ended up using the top of a bottle of mouthwash, the end of a large plastic knitting needle, and a tube of mascara. (The mascara runs, so this is the most useful it's ever been.) I also considered votive holders, Crayola makers, empty vitamin bottles and the handles of wooden spoons from my kitchen.

• A few paper lanterns. The ones shown here are 8 inches in diameter. (If you don't have any lanterns to repurpose you might want to keep in mind buying in a color that would work well as a background color. I found that the colorful tissue filters light so this isn't something you should necessarily embark on a quest for.)

• A free afternoon and a few friends. I suspect three people could finish six lanterns in the amount of time it takes for the sangria to soak, which obviously you'll need to sip frequently to be certain.


1. Let's just take a moment to learn from my mistakes. Before you start make sure each of your lanterns actually work. Overall this isn't a difficult project but you might find yourself a wee bit upset if you discover, after multiple changes of batteries and light bulbs that came from working lanterns, that your frilly new lantern is simply a dud. I am, ahem, speaking from recent experience.

2. Decide which order you want to apply your colors. I found that the color put on last is the most prominent, so I went with orange first and yellow last.

3. Wrap a square of color #1 over your widest object, apply glue to the end, then stick to your lantern. Do this all over your lantern, spacing them about 1 inch apart. The next two layers will add a lot of bulk so don't worry if you think things look sparse. (The images I show here only create a single section. I've done it that way for the purpose of brevity, it will go faster if you do all of one color at a time.)

4. Apply color #2 using your medium diameter object and glue those into the center of color #1. Then do the same with color #3 using your narrowest object.

5. You're done, congrats. The sun is setting and it is time for that sangria.


• You don't have to layer the colors as I have, but I did find that it was a nice way to evenly space the colors without having to pay attention to where I was putting them. It also means the color is uniform when the lantern is lit. However, if you want to create a polka dot or stripe effect go for it.

• I used three different sized objects to glue down the layers of tissue to create a bit more texture, the final color applied sticks out furthest and is a bit more prominent in daylight. If you find all this overly fussy by all means go ahead and put one layer using whatever sized thing you want.

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