How to Make Chinese Paper Lamps

Overview

If you have ever seen an array of brightly colored Chinese paper lamps or lanterns suspended overhead, you may well have wondered at their apparent complexity. At first glance they look intricate with their lattice-like sides, but the lamps are surprisingly simple to make. Most traditional lamps of this type are made in shades of red and orange, as these colors are considered "auspicious" in Asian culture, but feel free to be creative and use different colors for variety. Once you have successfully made one paper lamp, you quickly create many more in less than an hour.

Step 1

Take one sheet of construction paper and position it on the workspace in front of you so that the sides measuring 8 1/2 inches (the shorter sides) are horizontal, top and bottom, and the sides measuring 11 inches are on the left and the right.

Step 2

Use your ruler to draw a horizontal line from left to right approximately 1 inch down from the top of the paper. Cut this strip off of the top of the paper with scissors. Set it aside for now.

Step 3

Rotate the paper a quarter turn so the paper forms a horizontal rectangle. Grasp the top horizontal side and fold it downward to meet the lower horizontal edge evenly. Press with your fingers to create a firm crease.

Step 4

Turn the paper again a quarter turn so that the creased-and-folded side is on your right side (if you are right-handed). If you are left-handed, place the folded side to your left so the paper opens on your right.

Step 5

Cut horizontally from the crease only three-quarters of the way to the opposite side. Remove your scissors carefully, making sure that you have not cut completely through to the open side of the folded paper. Move down about a 1/2 inch below the first cut, and create another slit three-quarters of the way through the paper, but keeping the far side intact. Continue down the paper in equal intervals until the paper vaguely resembles a thick comb.

Step 6

Open the paper. It should look a little like window shutters with a deep vertical crease in the center. Place glue from your glue stick along the bottom edge of the paper in front of you. Take the top edge with both hands and pull it straight down, curving the top of the paper over at the end, to press the rear of the top horizontal edge onto the glue along the bottom. Press gently to adhere the two ends without crushing the cylinder that you just created.

Step 7

Stand your lamp or lantern up on its end. Press down on it gently to enhance the crease in the center and for better balance. It should now stand on its own. Take the horizontal strip that you previously set aside. Place a bit of glue on each end of the strip of paper and press one glued tip of the strip to the inside rim of the lamp. Place the other glued tip against the inside rim of the lamp directly opposite the first one. This forms a handle for the lamp.

Things You'll Need

  • 8 1/2-by-11 inch red, orange or multicolored construction paper
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick

References

  • Kaboose: Chinese Paper Lanterns

Who Can Help

  • Enchanted Learning: Chinese Lanterns
Keywords: Chinese paper lamps, Chinese New Year, Chinese paper crafts

About this Author

Genae-Valecia Hinesman left her career as an executive in 2002 to follow a lifelong dream of writing professionally. Her syndicated articles have appeared in print and online via publications such as the American Chronicle and its affiliates. Hinesman is currently working on a collection of poetry and a novel.

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