Monday, 8 November 2010

Star Lantern Tutorial

I have been admiring these beautiful star lanterns for years and trying to find instructions to make them. There are some crafts that seem to be shrouded in secrecy and these lanterns, I found, were one of them!
A couple of weeks ago, with the help of some photographs on flickr and a bit of experimentation, I worked it out and decided to try and word instructions in a tutorial here for you to have a try for yourselves if you wish.
I apologise in advance for the length of the post and if my directions are not clear - I am one of those annoying people who gives bad directions and explanations! I work better in a more visual way so there are a lot of photographs. However I found a few of the folds difficult to word and so you may need to study the photograph and use a bit of an initiative to get them right!
As with most crafts, the more accurate and consistent you are with each stage will result in a more polished end product but I haven't had any go completely wrong so don't worry about it too much.


I made mine using watercolour paintings. You can also use wax crayon pictures or pretty papers. The light will shine through them much brighter if you oil the paper before you begin but they work OK without this step and I suggest trying without the oil stage on your first try, just because it's messy!
Each of the folds (up until assembling) should be folded both ways to make the final stages easier.

With your paper turned to the wrong (plain) side, use a compass to make the largest circle you can. Mine were about 26cm diameter. Cut the circle out.


Fold the circle in half and half again to make quarter lines and then carry on to make eighths.


On the wrong side again, using a ruler draw straight lines across each segment from corner to corner. Cut across all of the lines to make an octagon.


Fold again matching the corners up so that you end up with sixteenths.


Other side:


Here comes the first tricky part to explain! The photographs will show where the folds need to be. You are aiming to make "mitre" corners so that you create a square when the folds are opened out.


See how the vertical and diagonal lines match up?


Open the folds back out, rotate the paper 45 degrees and repeat this stage so that your two squares create an eight pointed star shape when opened back out. (still with me?!)


Folds from this point onwards only need to be done one way.

Now you will see that you have eight kite shapes - I have coloured one in so that you can see it more clearly but you don't need to do that.


Fold the triangles next to the two top edges of your kite shape inwards.


Turn the entire thing over.


Fold the top part of your kite shape over on to the coloured side (bringing the point towards you).


The folding gets tricky here - stick with it and hold the paper quite loosely so that you aren't fighting it as you fold.
The folds of the lantern will be in a concertina style. The centre fold line of your kite shapes will fold inwards and the edges, outwards.
I found keeping the concertina idea in my mind during this part was a huge help until I worked out how the lantern comes together.


Work your way around the kite shapes doing the same steps as for the first one; folding the edges of the kite shape towards the plain side, and then the tip to the coloured side and helping the concertina folds along the way.
If you feel the paper fighting you at this point (I did) then pay attention to the concertina folds, making sure that they go in the right directions all the way to the centre.


When you have folded each of the eight kite shapes you should end up with something like this:


All you need to do now is insert your fingers into the lantern and flatten out the bottom to the size of your votive candle holder.


Before you light the candle be sure there are no paper pieces hanging over the edge - we don't want any fires!


And admire! Aren't they pretty?


  1. very beautiful! I was looking for a tutorial for something similar the other day but was unable to find one. so thank-you for sharing we may try this out later :D

  2. How lovely they are! Thank-you for your patience in composing the tutorial.
    Hannah B
    [I show up as anonymous because I don't have a blog)

  3. Thank you for sharing. The pictures really help- and they're pretty.

  4. Gonna try this with wrapping paper. Thanks :)

  5. I just tried one of these at home, and once I got the hang of the kite bit, it turned out okay. I'm going to make more, using nicer paper than I did this time too. Thanks for this ;)

  6. Thank you! ..."shrouded in secrecy" no doubt! I found one tutorial about a year ago, but didn't print it. I went back to the site a bit later and it was locked with a password filter. Oy!

    Beautiful, and now I can go forth and make my very own.

    Thanks again. I am a lantern lover and been jonesing for this pattern for awhile.

  7. Thanks for sharing. I was sitting here in Sweden trying to find this type lantern - and then, after a couple of hours, finaly I found you!

  8. how do you oil the watercolour paper?

  9. Hi Mandy - I use cotton wool to apply oil (such as vegetable oil) to the paper - you can tell when you have used enough as the paper becomes translucent - and then wipe off the excess.

  10. How pretty these are! Thank you for sharing them with us, much appreciated. Alison, England.

  11. Wow, I just made my first one, following along with your tutorial... they are beautiful, thanks!

  12. Thank you! I have always wanted to learn to make these! Very clear instructions! Happy Martinmas!

  13. Thanks SO MUCH for sharing!!! It is really fun to do!!!

  14. How beautiful! I love makes like this, absolutely stunning and wonderful to do with kids!

  15. oooo, battery powered tea lights! no fire risk!
    Love these!