How to Make Luminarias

Use these step-by-step instructions to turn ordinary items -- from fishbowls to carryout containers -- into shining luminarias.
By: Bett McLean
Luminaries at Night

Luminaries at Night

Luminaries are a great way to add light to an outdoor space during nighttime.

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. 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.
0113_398GLOW_s3x4

0113_398GLOW_s3x4

Fishbowl Luminaria

Materials and Tools:

fishbowl
decoupage
sharp scissors
brush
decorative rice paper in two colors

Steps:

1. Dilute decoupage with water until it's creamy (about 50-50 water to glue).

0112_398FISHBOWL2_s3x4

0112_398FISHBOWL2_s3x4

2. Cut out or tear pieces of rice paper. Brush pieces with decoupage and stick onto fishbowl. Continue until entire bowl is covered, overlapping as you go.

3. For the fern, we traced a fern picture to create a pattern and cut out the green rice paper using the pattern as a guide. The fern was glued on last.

Photos by David Luttrell

Keep Reading

Next Up

How to Make a Decoupaged Matchbook Collage

Transform an old door or piece of wood into a decoupaged matchbook collage to hang in any room.

How to Personalize a Lap Tray

Incorporate a few of your favorite things into this memento made from a picture frame and clay.

Decoupage Mosaic Frame

Using a technique that combines decoupage and mosaic, Jessica creates functional artwork around personal mementos like wedding invitations, baby announcements, kids’ artwork and honeymoon souvenirs.

How to Make a Cappuccino-Scented Candle

Make a coffee mug-themed candle with a cappuccino brulee scent with these simple steps.

Decoupage Canvas Name Art

Help kids mark their territory with this personalized name-art project.

Peeled Paint Art

Use these step-by-step instructions to make a beautiful collage using decoupage.

How to Make a Maui Koi Glass Mural

Fuse glass pieces and powdered glass together to create this colorful Maui koi mural.

How to Make Mosaic Stained Glass Art

Make an easy stained glass art piece using colored glass, a glass cutter and grout.

How to Make a Glass Turtle Paperweight

Use glass lampworking tools and techniques to create this small decorative glass turtle.

How to Design a Lampwork Glass Paperweight

Create a glass paperweight with a floral design inside using these lampwork glassblowing techniques.

On TV

Desert Flippers

7:30am | 6:30c

Desert Flippers

8:30am | 7:30c

Desert Flippers

9:30am | 8:30c

Flip or Flop

10am | 9c

Flip or Flop

10:30am | 9:30c

Flip or Flop

11am | 10c

Flip or Flop

11:30am | 10:30c

Flip or Flop

12pm | 11c

Flip or Flop

12:30pm | 11:30c

Flip or Flop

1pm | 12c

Flip or Flop

1:30pm | 12:30c
2pm | 1c

House Hunters

2:30pm | 1:30c

Fixer Upper

3pm | 2c

Fixer Upper

4pm | 3c

Fixer Upper

5pm | 4c

Fixer Upper

6pm | 5c

Fixer Upper

7pm | 6c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Love It or List It

8pm | 7c

House Hunters

11pm | 10c

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.