Easy Breezy Craft Project - Paper Mache Lanterns With "P" for Personality!

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You know who else gets a "P" for Personality? My lantern spokesmodel...

And here's a spokesmodel with a lot less "P" but a steadier hand:

Aren't they freaking cute? Easy too. And cheap to create. 

Otto and I found ourselves invited to a St. Martin's Day celebration last month and needed to come up with a couple of lanterns for the moonlit procession. The instructions I found online were not really what I was looking for. The best ones I found were written in German but with handy illustrations. I cobbled together a few sets of instructions and magically our lanterns turned out super-cute! So I thought I'd share this easy craft project.

All you need is:
- Balloons (word on the street is cheap dollar store balloons don't work as well. We used a $2.50 bag from Target with excellent results)
- Lots and lots of colorful & patterned gift tissue paper cut into approximately 1" strips
- White glue (like Elmer's or whatever)
- Bowl of water
- String/yarn
- Some kind of mess catcher like a pile of old newspaper

All you do is:

Step 1 - Blow up balloon and suspend it from the ceiling over your "mess catcher" using the string. I used our ceiling fan. Here, see...

Step 2 - You'll be dipping the paper strips into a watery glue mixture. Add about 1 TBSP for each cup of water.
Step 3 - One by one dip the strips into the glue/water mixture and then paste them onto the balloon. Leave space at the top so you can put your hand in later (to insert an LED light or to reshape the lantern if needed).
Step 4 - This is the "keep going" step and it takes a little time. You'll want at least 6 layers of tissue paper covering the entire balloon from the neck down. Go quite a bit heavier at the neck and on the bottom since these areas will support the lantern's structure later. Feel free to smooth the exterior with your fingers or leave it lumpy. I'm lazy so went with lump city and they're still insanely cute:

Step 5 - Allow to dry 24 hours
Step 6 - Pop balloon, then peel away the balloon if any sticks to the inside of the lantern and reshape if needed by putting your hand inside and gently pushing out.

Side note - these guys retain their shape super well. If you pop the balloon & the sides of the lantern collapse in, they'll go right back out with a gentle push. A (unsupervised) monster kid stepped on and basically SMASHED one of ours at the event we attended and after stopping myself from throwing a bowl of soup at him I was able to reshape it in 2 seconds.

Step 7 - Use a nail to poke holes on either side of the neck, then tie string or yarn to create a handle
Step 8 - Feel free to embellish by gluing glitter, adding stickers, etc. Then drop in an LED light or similar (not a lit candle obviously as it's a paper lantern)
Step 9 - Go about your moolit procession

Hope you find this fun! We totally did. Let me know if you have any paper mache pointers to share as I'd like to do this craft again when Otto gets a little bigger and can participate more actively. Thanks for reading!



mamaclare said...

I love your restraint, I love you posts and paper maiche is so much fun! And so is tissue paper. I'll tell you about a super easy craft that isn't very messy and is easy for interested little ones too.

OT and ET said...

I want that craft, Clare! Otto asks to do crafts first thing every morning so I'm in the market for toddler-approp ideas. Thanks! xoxo

Megan Hines said...

That is one cool lantern holder! Miss that little guy! (you too, I guess :D)

OT and ET said...

Aha! Meg, I don't blame you for missing him more. He has all that "P" going for him. I miss YOU! And I can't wait to see you over Xmas!!

mamaclare said...

Remind me on Friday!

Anonymous said...

Mmm my two favorite things! O in his fashionable spiderman socks and crafts! Love it all mama nice job and I looooooooove O!

OT and ET said...

Thanks, Kelli! ::blows lizardy cracked lip kiss:: <3

Clare - I'm so reminding you on Friday!

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