Invent! There are all kinds of ways to make volumes of light. Everyone loves to see new lantern forms. There are workshops and lantern kits for sale in advance of each of our parades to make it easy for folks to join in the fun. But wait until you see the fantastic and elaborate lanterns people bring to the parade! You'll want to up your game. Your creative play is a gift to us all. We cannot wait to see what you make! Here are some ideas to get you started. All are battery-operated lights sourced on-line or sometimes at the Dollar store. They are ordered from easy to challenging. Check out the videos of some amazing lantern parades around the world at the end.
You can decorate globe lanterns with colored tissue paper and make dimensional bits with construction paper and hot glue. We like them up on a stick for parade with a battery-operated light inside. There are lots of examples of those in the lantern workshop gallery. These are made in China for their many ancient lantern festival traditions. There are many vendors online for lanterns and battery-operated lights. They are also available at Richard's Variety store in Atlanta.
I did these designs that you can download for free, or get some ideas and draw your own. They are nice printed on bright colored card stock (you're local print shop can do that). The crayon makes them a little more sturdy on printer paper. You can glue two sheets together vertically to make a bigger lantern (glue stick works well). They're great nested. The ones pictures are made with 5 sheets of 8 x 11 color card stock. They go together with scotch tape. Tape them to a stick with a flashlight at the bottom or put a piece of wire at the top and hang from a string with a tiny light on the end of a stick.
Accordion lanterns tutorial slide show:
You can see where you want to cut and where you don't.
LITTLE ANGELS & WINGED THINGS
Print, color, cut out and tape together these little angels and tape the light and the lantern to a stick for parading! They would also be nice on sturdier paper with more cut-outs. Use this as a pattern idea! I made different heads and robes. Draw your own or you're welcome to mine.I made a bigger paper-cut angel lantern kit that might give you some ideas, too.
CARDBOARD BOX LANTERNS
Here are some examples and a video tutorial for illuminated dioramas and box lanterns. They are lit with a variety of light sources. "3 LED puck lights are good, like the kind made for under cabinets. It is fun for parade lanterns to be carried up above your head. Run a stick through the box and secure with strong tape or make a cardboard receiver attached to the back that the stick slides into or tie a string to the box and to the stick. Nice sticks are at garden centers.
Print Making & Cardboard Box
This is a linocut in a cardboard box. Drawings would work, too.
Linocut Print in Box Lantern
Reed, Sticks, & Tape
If you have seen any UK lantern parades, you have seen all those lovely willow lanterns. It's hard to find willow in the US. You can order it from the UK. I use it for my big things. If you are in Atlanta, I'd be happy to give you a handful to play with.
But you can find basket reed! It's very similar and better for small things. #2 is the smallest and cuts with scissors. For framing and straight lines, you can use bamboo, skewers, or marshmallow toasting sticks. It's easy to make attachments with masking tape. For the paper, you can use tracing paper, parchment paper, any long fiber paper, or even paper towels. The strongest and nicest translucent paper is "wet strength tissue", another UK thing. You can find it in beauty supply stores in little sheets, or big sheets from Amazon. Cover your form just like paper mâché with with glue mixed with water or wheat paste, just minimize the overlaps. When it's dry, you can paint it with watered down paint or glue on colored tissue paper. Or you could wrap your form in plastic wrap and glue colored tissue to it.
Here is my Frankenfish showing the different coverings. The Eden Project Communities video explains the basics of the UK style. And check out the fantastically tidy style of Gary Carlos (definitely watch his parts 2 and 3 for the paper/paint application.) .