Making your own wire paper lantern can be an easy way to change the look of your living space without spending a lot of money. Whether you are decorating for a special occasion or an upcoming party or just want to give your room a facelift, you can easily perk up your lighting by learning how to make a wire paper lantern. Although you could use a candle in a tall glass holder, it's better to refit an existing electric light fixture or use a string of Christmas lights as your light source.
Things You'll Need
20-gauge and 24-gauge copper or aluminum wire
Rice paper, parchment paper, mulberry paper or any handmade paper
Hanging lamp fixture or strand of Christmas lights, any color
Low-watt light bulb (40 watts or less), if using hanging lamp fixture
Create the top and bottom of your wire frame with 20-gauge wire. The easiest shape is a rectangle, but experiment. To ensure equal sides, decide on a length for each and use a black Sharpie to mark measurements on the wire. Use flat-head pliers to bend each corner of the top and bottom into a 90-degree angle. Join the corners by overlapping the edges by 1/2 inch.
Create the sides using the 24-gauge wire. Cut a piece of wire 12 inches longer than you want the side to be. Wrap the wire in the corner of the overlapped top square at least four times or until very secure. Measure the length of the side, and at the end, wrap the wire in the bottom square diagonally opposite the overlapped corner.
Repeat on all sides to complete the frame. For added sturdiness, make additional squares by wrapping 24-gauge wire around the midpoint of all four sides.
Decide on your lighting source and how to attach it to your paper lantern.
Create a metal cradle for the light fixture. Look at a lampshade to see how the lighting fixture is attached for guidance. Make a circle with the 20-gauge wire. Using a similar process to creating the frame, make a light fitting on the top square of the lantern frame by wrapping 24-gauge wire around the circle and looping it around the frame. The wire will suspend the 20-gauge circle in the middle of the frame.
Check your work by assembling the hanging light fixture and making sure it's sturdy. If you are using Christmas lights, create a cross bar on the top square from which you can suspend the lights through the wire paper lantern.
Make a paper cover for your lantern by tracing one of the long sides of your metal frame to make a pattern. Add an extra inch all around the tracing to allow for paper overlap.
Cut out the paper; you will need four of these pieces. You don't need to cover the top or bottom of the frame. Use a thick paper, preferably homemade, because the light can burn if the paper is too thin or yellow from the heat of the light source.
Spray the frame with adhesive, working outside if you are sensitive to fumes. Working on one side at a time, carefully center the paper on the outside of the frame. Cut diagonal slits at the corners, and fold the paper around the frame. Use a paintbrush and PVC glue to secure the edges. Flip the frame over and do the opposite side the same way.
Add glue to the paper-covered sides using the paintbrush for the remaining two sides. You still will cut the corners on the diagonal, but this time the sides will overlap the covered edges. Use the glue and paintbrush to finish the edges because you do not want to have spray adhesive on the paper; it can ruin the print.
Make sure all of the corners and edges are glued securely and allow the wire paper lantern to dry overnight.
Attach your hanging light fixture, add a low-watt light bulb and hang the lantern. If you are using Christmas light, suspend the strand by wrapping it several times around the crossbar. Use a 12-inch piece of 24 gauge wire to secure the strand into place at the top, and use a hanging plant fitting to hang the lantern using the Christmas lights cord.
Collage designs onto your wire paper lantern for a truly customized look. Create a new lampshade for a desk lamp by using the same techniques.
Never leave your wire paper lantern lit while unattended. Paper can burn, so make sure you only use it for brief periods of time, such as during a holiday dinner or party.
Never use a lightbulb more than 40 watts or you increase your fire risk.