Easy Jar Lanterns
For Martinmas, the holidays or any time, it's quick and pretty!
by Lynn Siprelle, TNH Editor
ne European tradition I wish more folks here in the US observed is the lantern walk, where children and adults parade through the night with lighted lanterns and candles. Many Waldorf schools have an annual lantern walk on Martinmas (November 11), and so do many areas with heavily German populations.
Here in Portland, we had one in late September 2001 that turned into a post-attack celebration of our city; thousands of people unexpectedly turned out to walk on our new Esplanade river pathway with all kinds of lanterns, from the most prosaic candle-with-paper-cup kind to elaborate structures that took two people to carry them. As sad and horrifying as those early days were, the sight of thousands of tiny bobbing lights lining both banks of the Willamette River and two of our bridges swelled my heart. We could all use a few extra lights these days, don't you think?
These are the lanterns Josie and I made for that walk.
Tissue paper, white and colors
Thick rubber bands (or more than one)
Bamboo poles or doweling
For a white lantern to paint:
Rip the tissue paper into small pieces. Spray the first piece lightly with spray starch and place it on the jar. Add the next piece directly to the jar; the starch from the first piece should make it stick initially. Then spray it into place. Repeat until you have the whole jar covered with at least two layers of tissue paper. The lantern will be wet like papier mache, which is basically what you're doing. You can leave as-is, or while it's wet you can paint it with water-based paint like tempera or watercolors. Water down the paint a good deal and don't paint it too thickly or too darkly or your candlelight won't shine through that well. I recommend just doing wet-on-wet abstract painting, not figurative, since the paint will run. (Though I haven't tried painting a dry version--usually these are last-minute items and we're in a hurry.) Be careful; while wet the paper is a little fragile. Let dry.
For a colored lantern without paint:
Follow the instructions above but use colored tissue paper and arrange the pieces in interesting patterns. If you use primary colors, you can layer them in places and get secondary colors.
For both lanterns:
Using craft wire, twist a loop around the mouth of the jar under its screw-top; use the lip of the screw-top to keep the wire in place. Take a second piece of wire and make a handle, twisting the ends into the loop. Take your bamboo or doweling and about 6 inches from the end wrap one big rubber band or several smaller ones so that you have a big lump of rubber band in one spot. Slip the lantern handle over the bamboo up to the rubber bands and twist the wire up close to the bamboo. Then make another big lump/knot of rubber bands on the other side of the handle to hold it in place and keep it from slipping off the bamboo.