How to Make a Chinese Accordion Lantern

Updated February 21, 2017

Chinese paper lanterns look simple and elegant, but they also look fragile and beautiful. Making your own accordion paper lantern is actually fairly simple, and is an elegant-looking craft. The accordion style lantern is also great because it's easy to store, as it collapses--like an accordion--into a simple and flat space. Traditional paper lanterns are lit by candles, but this can be a fire hazard, or destroy the lantern, so you may be better off using an LED-powered tea light instead.

Make a square out of the Popsicle sticks: place two parallel to each other, and lay two more sticks across them to form a square.

Glue the square together at the corners.

Repeat to make five total square pieces. Leave the pieces to dry for a few minutes.

Take two squares out, and lay them in front of you. On one of them, glue a tongue depressor stick across the square, which becomes the top. On the other, glue two sticks side by side to form the bottom.

Make several small balls of putty, and lay them in two rows of five balls, making a rectangular grid. These balls will hold the lantern frame in place while you attach the paper.

Place the top square in the leftmost set of clay blobs, and place the bottom square in the right-most. Set them so they're perpendicular to one another. Place the other squares on the blobs in between, so they're all parallel to each other. The rectangle should be about 8 inches by 4 inches.

Cut an 8-inch by 20-inch strip of tissue paper.

Line the three exposed sides of the squares with glue.

Line the 8-inch side of the paper along the bottom of the squares. Lift and wrap the paper around the glued sides of the squares. Leave the glue to dry for a few minutes.

Roll the entire lantern model over, remove the clay, and glue the flap of paper to the remaining exposed sides of the tongue depressors and to the other end of the paper strip. Leave the glue to dry overnight.

Set the lantern upright, accordion fold it down to crumple the paper a little, then stretch it out.

Stick a small blob of clay to the bottom of the LED tea light, and then stick the tea light inside the lantern, on the double-sticks flat area on the bottommost square.

Tie a loop of string to the tongue depressor at the top of the lantern. Hang the lantern using this string.

Things You'll Need

  • 25 tongue depressors, 4 1/2-inch
  • School glue
  • Clay or play dough
  • Tissue paper
  • Scissors
  • LED tea light
  • String
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Grahame Turner has worked as a freelance writer since 2009 and a freelance reporter since 2010 for Wellesley Patch and Jamaica Plain Patch in Massachusetts. He also works part-time as a bookseller at the Northeastern University bookstore. He is a Northeastern University graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in English.