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DIY Garden Inspired Paper Lantern

My garden inspires me to do more than expand my garden and try new things. It inspires me to bring the joy of gardening to my children. Have you made a paper lantern? Here’s an easy DIY paper lantern guide inspired by my garden. It’s a fun activity to do with children or on your own.

paper lantern complete

What is a paper lantern? A paper lantern is just as it sounds, a lantern made out of paper. It’s specifically made out of tissue paper. It is nearly see-through when a candle is placed inside. It is usually used to light the path for a party or as a centerpiece for a celebration. The one I made was simply to make my kids smile.

So how do you make a paper lantern and how could a garden inspire anyone to make one? I’ve made paper lanterns in the past. Ok, very very long ago in my days as a Girl Scout in fact. Let’s not talk about how long ago that was. Having children brings up memories of fun activities I did as a child. This was one of them. The extra fun part about making paper lanterns is that you can decorate them any way you want. I’ve seen people make spring ones with flowers and fall ones with leaves. My garden is full of beautiful flowers and leaves and I bet yours is as well.

Making a paper lantern is a lot of fun. It starts with a scavenger hunt to collect all the leaves, flowers and anything else in the garden that you would like to put on your lantern. The kids loved hunting for everything and so did I. We took a basket and wandered around the garden searching for items that were different shapes and colors. It’s nice to have a variety of both.

flowes and leaves from the garden

One important thing about using fresh flowers and leaves is that you have to make the paper lanterns on the same day you pick them or they will all shrivel up. I know this because that’s what happened to us on our first attempt. Do as I say and not as I do is a fitting phrase here. So what should you do after collecting everything? You’ll want to clear a work area and gather the rest of the things you’ll need. Make sure your work area is protected by something waterproof since it is likely that you’ll drip water and glue as you work. Here’s what you’ll need:

Supplies
  • White tissue paper cut into pieces
  • 2 bowls
  • Half a bottle of white school glue
  • Water
  • A sponge paint brush
  • A balloon (any color is fine)
  • Something sharp to pop the balloon
  • Flowers and leaves from your garden
  • A battery operated tea light
DIY Lantern Supplies

Steps to making a paper lantern

  1. Cut the white tissue paper into pieces if you have not done so already.
  2. Blow up your balloon to any size that you want and rest it in one bowl.
  3. Fill the second bowl halfway with water.
  4. Dip the tissue paper into the water quickly one piece at a time then place pieces overlapping completely covering the balloon. You can leave space at the area where it ties. That will actually be the top of your lantern and you’ll need to be able to remove the balloon from that space once it is dry. If you want a bigger opening, then only cover as far up the balloon as you wish.
  5. Use the paint brush to smooth out the pieces of paper. They do not need to be perfect. They just need to be wet and overlap with other pieces. Using water for the first layer will help release the balloon in the end.
  6. Once you have completed the first layer, you can move on to the second layer. You do not need to wait for layers to dry.
  7. The second layer will be a mixture of water and glue. Pour half a bottle of school glue into your bowl of water. It should be equal amounts of water to glue. If you know you have too much water in your bowl, drain some before adding the glue. Mix the two together with your paint brush.
  8. Now make the second layer in the same way you made the first using this glue mixer.
  9. Once the second layer is finished, you can add the items you collected from your garden. You can dip leaves in the glue mixture or your balloon might be wet enough to simply stick them on. Use the paint brush or your fingers to smooth them on.
  10. After adding everything that you want to the balloon, cover the balloon with one final layer of tissue paper. Set the finished balloon in the bowl and let it set overnight.
  11. When the balloon is completely dry, pop the balloon with a sharp object and remove it.
  12. Place the battery operated tea light into the lantern and enjoy the beauty of your masterpiece.

How did your paper lantern turn out? What items from your garden did you use? I used leaves from blueberry bushes, purple bean leaves, rose petals and other flowers, butter crunch lettuce, oregano, basil, broccoli leaves and brussels sprout leaves as well as sweet potato leaves. My children were very excited about the whole activity as well as seeing it light up. Did you create your paper lantern with garden inspired items?

Share your paper lanterns in the comments below.

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