Make Pretty Floral Paper Lanterns

Turn ordinary lanterns into a beautiful floral display with these simple paper flowers.

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Decorate Your Lanterns

Paper lanterns are a cheap and easy way to add a bit of light to your home, patio or garden party. Add beautiful paper flowers and butterflies to your paper lanterns and you can turn that simple lampshade into a garden globe.


To make your lanterns you will need scissors, glue, paper and paper lanterns! You can use any size lanterns in any color, or add variety by mixing different types together. We used round lanterns, but this project will also work with square or rectangle lanterns.

Choosing Paper

You'll need paper to create your flowers and butterflies, and you'll get the best results by using lightweight paper. This is a great opportunity to recycle paper, you can use old lined or graph paper, pages from old books, newspaper or tissue paper. The transparency of tracing paper can create interesting effects. You can use any colors you like, but consider painting your paper if you're going to use a color. The texture of the paint will add a lot of depth.

Cutting Flowers

The first step is cutting flower shapes for your lantern. Begin by cutting a small square of paper. A Post-It note size is great to start with. Don't worry about making the square perfect. Fold it into quarters and hold the folded corner between your fingers. Cut a teardrop shape, making sure not to cut off all the folded sides so the petals stay attached to one another. Unfold to reveal your four petaled flower.

Varying Sizes

Continue cutting flower shapes from varying sized squares. You'll want larger flowers for the outer petals, but progressively smaller flowers for the inner petals of each flower. Cut more small flowers than large flowers: you don't want all of your final flowers to be exactly the same size. You can also cut different shaped petals, try flattening the ends, cutting heart shapes or pointed petals to get the look you want.

Gluing Flowers

Once you have a variety of sizes, you'll need to glue your flowers together. Layer up the flower shapes you've cut out, starting with the largest and getting progressively smaller. Aim for between 3 and 5 layers in each flower, depending on the size. It's okay to have a few with more or fewer layers, and you may want to leave a few small flowers for small details later. Add a drop of glue to the center of each layer, leaving the petals free.

Shaping the Petals

Once the glue is completely dry, you'll need to fluff up your petals. Because your flowers are only glued in the center, you should be able to fold and manipulate the petals to give your flowers more body. Bend them upwards, adding folds if necessary to make your petals fuller.

Creating Butterflies

These butterflies follow the same basic process as the flower petals, with a few minor variations. Begin by folding a rectangle of paper in half, and cutting out a single wing shape. Leave some paper at the fold intact, this is where the leaves will meet when you unfold the paper. Cut another, smaller wing shape from a smaller rectangle. Open your wings and cut a few decorative shapes for them from a contrasting color. Cut one more long, narrow oval shape for the butterfly's body.

Assembling the Butterfly

Glue all your butterfly pieces together. Consider gluing the wing accent pieces at just one point, close to the body of the butterfly. This will allow the accent color to float above the main body of the wing, and will give your butterfly more dimension.

Attaching the Pieces

Once all your pieces are assembled, you'll need to attach them to your lamp. You can use hot glue, school glue or most other glues to be sure the flowers stick. Arrange them in cascades around your lamp, starting with a few small flowers, gradually adding bigger and bigger flowers in the middle, and then gradating back to small flowers to finish.

Multiple Lanterns

If you are decorating multiple lanterns, try to vary the way you place the flowers on them. Let the flowers cascade downward on one lantern, and place them so that they flow across horizontally on another. Arrange your flowers so that there are thick sections with lots of flowers flowing into narrow sections with only a few. Trust your instincts and have fun with it!

Remembering the Details

Be careful not to neglect the bottom of your lamp. It's easy to focus on the sides while you're constructing it, but remember than most lamps are hung up high, so people will view them from below. Arrange your flowers so you like the way they look from multiple vantage points.

Experimenting With Color

These lanterns can be tailor-made to fit almost any decor. Choose a base color lantern that fits your theme, and add flowers in colors to match. If you have a warm lantern, like this tan one, use warm colored flowers like pink, orange, yellow and beige. If you want a cooler color scheme try using blues and greens on a white lantern.

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