These pressed flower lanterns are the perfect addition to a warm summer’s eve. They are easy and cost almost nothing to make, plus you can use them to preserve your favorite summer flowers even after the blooms have passed. A warm, gentle glow makes these perfect for a backyard party, or a quiet evening alone under the stars.
To make your lanterns you will need flowers, leaves, grasses or other flora that can be pressed. You’ll also need a few sheets of standard printer paper and some tissue paper as well as rubber balloons, a paintbrush and a cup of flour.
To create your lanterns you will first need to press the flora you plan to use on them. You can use anything that can be pressed fairly flat. Stiff items like twigs and sticks won’t work. Begin by laying a piece of clean paper on top of a sheet of cardboard. Place your plants on the piece of paper, making sure they don’t overlap or touch one another. Lay another piece of paper on top of the flowers, and another sheet of cardboard above the paper.
If you need to press more flowers, repeat the process by stacking cardboard, paper, flowers, paper and cardboard until all the flowers are in the stack. Finish by placing a stack of heavy books on top of the pile. Leave your flowers for about a week, then carefully disassemble the stack and gently peel the flowers off the paper.
Paper Mache Paste
While your flowers are drying you can begin creating your lanterns. To do so you will need to mix up a batch of paper mache. Simply combine 1 cup of cool water with one cup of flower and 2 teaspoons of salt. Mix until smooth.
Tear your printer paper up into strips about 2 inches wide. They don’t need to be perfect, so don’t worry too much about this part. Dip the strips into the paper mache paste and pull them through your fingers to remove any excess paste.
Place the wet paper strips onto a blown up balloon. Make sure that they go in all different directions and overlap one another. You need to create a base layer with printer paper to give your lamp strength, but to let light through you don’t want this layer to be too thick. It’s fine to leave some parts of the balloon exposed as long as you the basic shape. Don’t cover the balloon completely; leave the top with an opening at least big enough to fit your hand in.
Adding Tissue Paper
Once you have the base layer down, you’ll need to add layers of tissue paper on top. Because tissue paper is so delicate it’s best to apply the paper mache paste with a brush. If the under layer has dried, add a bit more paste with the brush and place a piece of tissue paper on top. Then cover the tissue paper gently with another layer of paste. Continue building up layers until you have about 3 layers of tissue paper on top of the base layer.
Finishing the Bottom
Hang your balloons up so the paper mache can dry. Once it is completely dry, pop and remove the balloon. Try setting your lantern on a flat surface. If the bottom is too round and causes the lantern to roll easily, lightly moisten the bottom and gently press it in to create a flat base for your lantern to sit on.
Trimming the Top
The top of your lantern will very likely be uneven and ragged at this point. If you like the look you can leave it, but if you want to smooth it out you can trim the top edge with a pair of scissors.
Once your pressed flowers are dried you can add them to your lamps. Add some paste or white glue to the lamp where you want to place the flowers. Cover with a layer of paste or glue to hold the flowers in place.
Depth and Layers
You can add more layers of tissue paper on top of the flowers to create a little bit of depth on the surface of your lantern. Simply use the same paste technique you used to place tissue paper earlier. Just keep in mind that the more layers of tissue paper you add, the less light will shine through.
This lantern had layers of flowers hidden under tissue paper with leaves pasted directly on top. The flowers create an interesting and subtle background to the bold leaves. Try different combinations of plants, or stick with one for a simple look.
Once your lanterns are completed, place a battery-operated tea light inside to illuminate them. Place them along your walkway, use them as centerpieces or just as warm and welcoming lanterns on your front porch. Keep them dry and you’ll be able to enjoy them for a long time.