Surely last holiday season, you saw those mini gingerbread houses that perch on the edge of your mug of hot chocolate? The ones that made your heart break a little with the utter genius and cuteness of the idea? Well, meet Megan of Not Martha. I have long admired her talent and creativity. Last fall, I got to spend a weekend in her company and meet the warm, talented spirit behind the clever ideas and beautiful photography. So for all these reasons, I am thrilled to have her and her stunner of a DIY project here as part of Lazy Summer. Here’s Megan:
We have a bunch of paper lanterns left over from our wedding reception and I had been planning on hanging them around our deck this summer. But I had forgotten that up here in Seattle the summer days are long and the sun sets fairly late, so we would rarely be turning the lanterns on. I decided to decorate them so that they would look a bit more festive while hanging in the sun and a bit less like, well, lanterns left over from our wedding reception.
Here is a picture of one by night and by day next to a lantern that I used as the base. I am happy that the tissue adds a lot to the size while hiding the battery housing. However, it does dim the amount of light that shows through:
Do you remember that craft we did as kids where you twist a small square of tissue paper over the eraser end of a pencil, dip it in glue, and stick it down to paper plate to decorate a valentine or a holiday wreath? I'm doing the exact same thing here, only larger and on top of a glowing orb. The result is a bit like a flower pomander. For the pictures for this tutorial one I chose shades of yellow and orange, mostly because the day I went shopping for tissue paper it had been cloudy and gray for what seemed like weeks and I really wanted something sunny. I suspect this would look even more like flowers if you used three tones of the same color.
What you'll need:
- Glue sticks or a glue gun (if you have one, lucky person).
- Sheets of colored tissue paper cut into approximately 6-inch squares, no need to be exact here. I went with three colors and used about four sheets of each color, for a total of twelve sheets of tissue paper for each lantern. You can feel free to use as many colors as you'd like or stick to a single color.
- Three objects with round, flat ends that range from 2 to 1 inch in diameter. You'll be using these to form and glue down the tissue so objects you can wash with soap and water are best since the glue can seep through the tissue. I ended up using the top of a bottle of mouthwash, the end of a large plastic knitting needle, and a tube of mascara. (The mascara runs, so this is the most useful it's ever been.) I also considered votive holders, Crayola makers, empty vitamin bottles and the handles of wooden spoons from my kitchen.
- A few paper lanterns. The ones shown here are 8 inches in diameter. (If you don't have any lanterns to repurpose you might want to keep in mind buying in a color that would work well as a background color. I found that the colorful tissue filters light so this isn't something you should necessarily embark on a quest for.)
- A free afternoon and a few friends. I suspect three people could finish six lanterns in the amount of time it takes for the sangria to soak, which obviously you'll need to sip frequently to be certain.
You don't have to layer the colors as I have, but I did find that it was a nice way to evenly space the colors without having to pay attention to where I was putting them. It also means the color is uniform when the lantern is lit. However, if you want to create a polka dot or stripe effect go for it.
I used three different sized objects to glue down the layers of tissue to create a bit more texture, the final color applied sticks out furthest and is a bit more prominent in daylight. If you find all this overly fussy by all means go ahead and put one layer using whatever sized thing you want.
1. Let's just take a moment to learn from my mistakes. Before you start make sure each of your lanterns actually work. Overall this isn't a difficult project but you might find yourself a wee bit upset if you discover, after multiple changes of batteries and light bulbs that came from working lanterns, that your frilly new lantern is simply a dud. I am, ahem, speaking from recent experience.
2. Decide which order you want to apply your colors. I found that the color put on last is the most prominent, so I went with orange first and yellow last.
3. Wrap a square of color #1 over your widest object, apply glue to the end, then stick to your lantern. Do this all over your lantern, spacing them about 1 inch apart. The next two layers will add a lot of bulk so don't worry if you think things look sparse. (The images I show here only create a single section. I've done it that way for the purpose of brevity, it will go faster if you do all of one color at a time.)
4. Apply color #2 using your medium diameter object and glue those into the center of color #1. Then do the same with color #3 using your narrowest object.
5. You're done, congrats. The sun is setting and it is time for that sangria.
Thanks, Megan! May your summer be long and lazy, and lit with gorgeous paper lanterns.