How to Make a Japanese Paper Lamp

Written by umiko sasaki
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How to Make a Japanese Paper Lamp
Japanese lanterns bring a calm atmosphere to any decor. (Japanese lamp image by Evgenij Gorbunov from

The simple elegance found in both traditional and modern Japanese decor has made it a popular design choice in America. Japanese lanterns combine soft light with the neutral, clean colour of rice paper to bring the simplistic beauty of Asian-inspired decor to your interior design scheme.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Bendable wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Rice paper
  • Paper glue
  • Light bulb fixture

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  1. 1

    Find a shape for your wire frame by selecting an object that has a similar shape, so you can easily wrap wire around it. For example, if the lantern is going to be round, find a round object that’s a little smaller than the lantern you want to make. Keep in mind that the finished project is the wire around that object, so it will be just a bit bigger.

  2. 2

    Wrap the wire around the object, leaving extra wire at both the bottom and top of the lantern. These “loose ends” will turn into the base later. The length can be whatever you'd like, but it should be long enough to go around the object more than once.

  3. 3

    Bend the extra wire at the very bottom of the frame (where you first started wrapping the object) so it lays across the opening of the frame. This will act as a kind of base for the lantern. When you look at it from below, it should look like the circle of a No Smoking sign with a line going through it. Do the same with the extra wire at the top of the frame. Ideally they should both be a reflection of each other, so when you look up through the lantern the crossed wires are parallel.

  4. 4

    Cut out enough strips of rice paper to cover the sides of the lantern. Depending on your preference, this can be completed a few different ways. The easiest way, especially for spherical lanterns, is to cut a single strip that can go all the way around; however, this might prove difficult if the surface of the wire frame is even slightly uneven. It can also create unsightly gaps in the top and bottom of the frame if it's not cut exactly fit to size. Another way is to cut smaller strips that will be laid vertically around the circumference of the sphere. This is more time-consuming, but may work better if the first option isn't working. You can slightly overlap the pieces all the way around to have a better fit.

  5. 5

    Glue the paper to the wire frame. Keeping the paper taut, start from the top and work your way to the bottom. Rice glue will work best for this, but you can use any glue that can be safely used on paper. Allow the paper to dry up to a day before hanging any kind of bulb.

  6. 6

    String the light bulb from the top cross wire of the frame, and hang it to a level you're comfortable with inside the lantern. Make sure it doesn't hang below the frame of the lantern.

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