The tradition of creating paper lanterns can be traced back to the reign of the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907 AD). Once during the Mid-Autumn festival, the emperor, ordered the construction of thirty enormous lantern towers. These lantern towers were about 1500 feet high and were richly decorated with gold, silver, jade, and precious gemstones. His subjects also wanted to decorate their homes with beautiful lanterns, but could not afford to decorate them with jewels. So, they made lanterns with transparent paper or thin silk. As time passed by, these lanterns were made with rice paper.
Today, the lanterns which are used for the Mid-Autumn festival are made in innumerable shapes and sizes. The designs range from paper planes with glittery wings to crepe paper rabbits to cellophane birds. People of all ages light the lanterns, hold them in their hands, and parade them around the city.
Making a Lantern
1. Take a rectangular sheet of rice paper. Cut out a small strip, along its length. This strip can be used to make a handle for the lantern.
2. Now fold the paper in the middle, along its length.
3. Using a scissor, make vertical cuts along the fold. However, do not cut till the end of the paper; you should leave at least 2 inches of the paper free at both ends. Make sure the cuts you make are equidistant.
4. Unfold the sheet and bring the two edges which are along the breath of the sheet, closer. Stick these edges using glue or join them together by stapling.
5. Take the strip of the paper you had cut in the beginning, and glue it to the opposite edges of the lantern.
6. To further decorate your lantern, hang some satin ribbons at the bottom of the lamp.
7. For lighting of these paper crafts, you can use a candle or a small light powered by batteries.
With the above steps you can make a basic lantern. But if you wish to experiment with different shapes and designs, put these ideas to test.
- You can make different shapes of lanterns and create light fixtures, which are interesting. For making a round paper lantern, take a bowl of the required size. Starting from the bottom end start wrapping a wire around the bowl, to create a semi-spherical frame. Make the other half of the sphere similarly. Stick this two halves with a tape and cover the frame with paper.
- For a rectangular frame, mount 4 wooden dowels and wrap a wire at the bottom end of a dowel. At a distance of 20 centimeters, wrap the wire around the second dowel. Repeat this for the remaining two dowels. Wrap wires in similar fashion at the top end of the dowels, and finally cover with paper. Similarly, using 5 dowels, you can create a polygon shaped lantern. These lamps, can also be used as floor lamps.
- You can buy white rice paper and paint different designs like dragons or an intricate design of a plant like ivy. If you are not good at painting, you can just stencil art on the paper, and make it look interesting.
- One of the simplest ways is to take paper bags and place citronella candles inside the bags. These lamps can be used for outdoor lighting. The paper lamp will look pretty and the citronella candle will keep the mosquitoes away.
This was the procedure on making lanterns of different shapes, sizes, and designs along with ideas to make different types of lanterns.