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Japan – Milk carton lanterns

I was looking through the Sleeping Bear Press “K is for Kabuki” book (you can win it this month) and noticed they had a page on lanterns and their use/meaning. I happened to look up from the book to see a used (cleaned) milk carton… and saw 2 lanterns (you probably wonder if I was having funny brownies, but nope). Since Nico is not even 3, I did a lot of the preparation work but older kids could do it as well (the part with the utility knife I would never let a child of any age do, those are too sharp and I’ve seen too many lost fingers!)


So here is how we did it for the body of the lantern:
I measured the length of it from flat end to the part before the little triangle area. ( I used a 1 liter carton)
I traced a line all around the half way point.
I cut the milk carton in half using a utility knife (for older kids you could score it with the utility knife and have them cut it with their scissors)
Then I unglued the pointy top and cut off the folded part, so the be able to fold it back in and make it flat and I used scotch tape to keep it down.
I measured the height (9.5 cm) and width (7 cm) of a side and left 1.5 cm all around and drew a rectangle on each side.
I cut the rectangles out in half using a utility knife so I wouldn’t cut anything else (for older kids you could score it with the utility knife and have them cut it with their scissors)
I painted the outside with white acrylic craft paint to cover the brand design (3 coats, the colors of the carton were strong).

For the windows:
I used old tissue paper that I folded to get 8 layers
I traced and cut a rectangle 1 cm bigger than the window cut out to be sure I would have enough all around to glue it.

Then the decorating fun started, I did mine during nap time so I could show him. On the lantern body, I painted 2 coats of black acrylic paint and stamped  a red heart with a cookie cutter and glitter glue. My red glitter glue wouldn’t come out the tip even though there is nothing blocking the hole, so I used a toothpick to spread it out from the bottle directly. I decided to write the word LOVE, one letter per window since I noticed in the book that the lanterns had writing on it. The Japanese lanterns had Japanese symbols (Kanji or Kana) on them, but I decided to stick to our regular Latin alphabet. Due to my glue bottle issue, I did the letters using the toothpick which I think in the end was better and less thick.

Assembling was fairly easy, I put a thin line of white glue inside near the edge of the window and placed the window inside, then I used a tongue depressor (big craft stick) and pressed down on the window. Don’t rub from one side to the other! The glue goes through the paper and it will tear your window. Press down and lift your stick softly, then go press down the next section and so on. Wait for it to dry and voilà!

I showed him my lantern with a little battery operated candle (safer for him) and he loved it! I asked him if he wanted to make one and he said yes with a big smile!

I asked him how/with what he wanted to decorate it, he picked his paint dab markers. I had to hold the papers down as he was dotting quick and hard. Be aware, tissue paper does not take too much wetness before the paper tears, so be careful. He also dotted away on the frame at the same time, but he’s a little rough so I had to hold  it. Before the paint dried he added some “recycled” glitter (we normally do glitter work in a tray and I put all the excess mixed up in a little container), I noticed a window with a tear so I tore of a piece of tissue paper I had left over and using the wetness of the paint I stuck it behind the window. I waited for it all to dry. Then I shook off the excess glitter, I proceeded the same way I did for mine to glue it all and done!

He was SO excited to put the “candle” in it.

Two days later he had lunch with it because it’s much prettier with a lantern :)

If you do this, we’d LOVE to see a photo of it. Email it
to us or post it on our Facebook page. We’d love to do a Facebook album, a Pinterest board and a page of your creations


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