How to Make Luminarias
Use these step-by-step instructions to turn ordinary items -- from fishbowls to carryout containers -- into shining luminarias.
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It's a familiar sight around the holidays: paper-bag luminarias — filled with sand and twinkling candles — guiding friends and family down a sidewalk or lane. Our twists on the paper lantern are designed for spring, but the message is the same: a warm light always means a warm welcome, a good time, a celebration. These luminarias — made of tin, paper, glass, even fishbowls and cardboard carryout containers — can shed light inside or out.
Craft designer Michael Basler likes to use a decoupage technique on fishbowls and glass vases (see next page). On our versions, we overlapped red and white rice paper for a checkerboard effect and alternated stripes on a glass chimney.
More ideas and tips:
- To add stability to the cylindrical and rectangular rice-paper lanterns, glue or tape thin strips of bendable cardboard to the tops and bottoms of the larger lanterns and use dowels in the corners.
- Give a simple paper tube the star treatment with a rubber stamp and gold ink. Cut each star point to let the light shine through.
- To make the "to go" luminarias, use a carryout container as a template.
- The "tin" lantern is really craft aluminum with a design poked into it using an awl and a golf ball (trace a design onto paper, attach the paper to the tin and punch out the design). Curve the aluminum into a cylinder, poke holes in the overlapping pieces and secure with wire.
- For more free-form illumination, shape flexible mesh around votive candleholders.
Nicci Battilana adds sparkle to her painted pillow with an acrylic jewel and glitter paint.