Paper lanterns are traditional features at Chinese and Japanese festivals. In recent years, these rice paper lanterns have been used as decor at weddings, parties and as everyday light shades. Though they look complicated, round rice paper lanterns can be made at home. You can give yours a personal touch by creating a custom size or selecting distinctive rice paper for the covering.
Place the bowl upside down on your workspace. Using the craft wire, make a circle around the base of the bowl. Continue the circle of wire halfway around the circumference to make the bottom opening of the lantern.
Wrap the wire down around the bowl in a spiral pattern. Keep the wire spiral as evenly spaced as possible; a 5 cm (2 inch) gap between passes will allow for a strong frame. Stop wrapping when you reach the rim of the bowl, which will be the middle of the lantern.
Remove the bowl from the wire frame and place it on the workspace right-side up. Place the wire frame where you stopped wrapping on top of the bowl's rim. Continue wrapping the wire down the bowl toward the base, keeping the same 5 cm (2 inch) spiral. Wrap a final circle around the base 1 1/2 times as you did in the beginning to make the top of the lantern. Cut off the extra wire, leaving enough to cross the diameter of the top circle two times.
Bend the wire spiral just above the rim of the bowl, being careful not to alter the shape beyond the bend. Carefully slide out the bowl. Bend the wire frame back to reform the ball. Bend the wire tail left at the top of the lantern 90 degrees from the circle into an arc and fasten directly across from the bend by wrapping the wire around the top circle.
Measure the top, bottom and middle circumferences of the wire frame ball. Divide these measurements by 12 and add 1.3 cm (1/2 inch). These will be the top, middle and bottom measurements you need for 12 pieces of rice paper to make the paper covering. Measure from the top to the bottom along the outside of the wire ball add 5 cm (2 inches). This will be the length of each of the paper strips.
Draw the paper strip using the measurements just calculated. Cut out the first strip and use as a template to cut out the remaining 11 strips of paper. They will be bulging arcs with narrow tops and bottoms, similar to decals used on a globe.
Overlap the first strip of rice paper with the top wire circle by 2.5 cm (1 inch). Fold the extra paper over the wire into the lantern and down against the rice paper on the outside of the lantern. Glue in place. Carefully smooth the paper along the outside of the wire frame, gluing lightly each place it crosses the wire frame. Wrap the remaining paper over the bottom wire circle as you did the top and glue in place. Allow to dry.
Paste each section of rice paper in the same manner as the first, allowing 6 mm (1/4 inch) of overlap to the next section on each side. Work from the first strip in both directions, allowing each section to dry before continuing to the next. Once the last section is pasted in place, allow the project to dry overnight. Insert a light into the lantern and hang from the wire arc.
Alternate different coloured pieces of rice paper for a distinctive look. Use plain white rice paper and then paint designs on it once the glue is fully dry. Handmade paper can be used instead of rice paper, but less light will show through the heavy paper.
Do not burn candles or oil lamps in the lantern as the paper is flammable.
Tips and warnings
- Alternate different coloured pieces of rice paper for a distinctive look.
- Use plain white rice paper and then paint designs on it once the glue is fully dry.
- Handmade paper can be used instead of rice paper, but less light will show through the heavy paper.
- Do not burn candles or oil lamps in the lantern as the paper is flammable.