How to Make a Collapsible Paper Lantern

Start from scratch with this paper lantern by making the paper first, then assembling the tea light lighted structure.

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Materials and Tools:

Hollander beater
water and buckets
1 lb. abaca pulp
purple aqueous disbursed pigment
retention aid
mold and deckle
flower paper punch
5 different colored pieces of vellum
lamp parts: shade ring, brass cup
Lexel glue
PVA glue
glue brush
hole punch
eyelets and eyelet setter
18-gauge brass wire
ear protection
plastic apron
wire cutters
needle-nose pliers
tea light
candle lighter


1. Soak one pound of dry abaca pulp fiber in water. Remove it from the water and tear it into small pieces.

2. Place the pieces in the Hollander beater filled with water. Before turning on the beater, put on ear protection. Start the beater and let it run for eight hours.

3. Wear a plastic apron. Drain the pulp from the beater and move it to a bucket. Add purple pigment and retention aid to the pulp and mix the solution with your hands. The retention aid will help the color stick to the pulp.

4. Fill the vat with water: 90 percent water and 10 percent pulp. Add the pulp to the water in the vat.

5. Wet the paper mold. Place the deckle on top of the mold. Dip the mold and deckle into the vat, scooping the pulp onto the screen of the mold. Lift up the mold and shake it from side-to-side to interlock the fibers so that they bond together. The water will drain through the screen and the pulp will settle on top.

6. Remove the deckle from the mold and tilt the mold to drain the water.

7. Place a piece of interfacing on top of a piece of felt and wet both with water.

8. Set the mold, pulp side down, on top of the interfacing. Remove the mold, leaving the sheet of paper on the interfacing.

9. Cut five pieces of 18-gauge brass wire slightly longer than the length of the sheet of paper. Lay the wires evenly spaced across the paper.

10. Punch out 16 to 17 flowers from different colors of velum with the flower punch. Wet the vellum flowers with water. Place them on the first paper sheet in between the wires.

11. Make a second piece of paper following the directions above and place it on top, sandwiching the wire and flowers in between the two pieces of paper.

12. Place a second piece of interfacing on top of the second sheet of paper and use a brayer to roll over the interfacing to squeeze out excess water.

13. Remove the top piece of interfacing and let the paper air-dry. The paper will naturally curl.

14. Snip the ends of the wire that extend beyond the edges of the paper.

15. Apply Lexel glue to the center of a lampshade ring and glue the brass cup (to hold the tea light) to the shade ring. Let dry. This will become the lantern base.

16. With white glue, glue the edges of the paper to form a cylinder shape. Let dry.

17. Glue the bottom edge of the lantern to the wire base, folding the paper edges over the ring of the base. Let dry.

18. Punch two holes on opposite sides in the top edge of the lantern and set two eyelets according to eyelet manufacturer's directions.

19. Cut a piece of brass wire for a hanger and thread it through the eyelet holes from the inside to the outside of the lantern. Curl the ends of the wire with needle-nose pliers to secure them in the holes.

20. Put the tea light on the brass cup in the base of the lantern. Collapse the paper lantern to light the candle. Expand it to hang the paper lantern.

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