I love lanterns of all kinds, and paper bag lanterns are one of the simplest to create. In fact you don’t really have to do anything to them at all to create a beautiful lantern, other than put a lamp or candle inside (making sure of course that the flame is protected in a jar). You can use any colour bag, but white bags create the most ethereal lanterns, and will give out the most light.
To create children’s art lanterns, you can of course just paint straight onto the bag. The best effect will be obtained if you use a paint that allows light to pass through, such as watercolour, felt-pens or ink, but not tempera paint which will block the light. However for these bags I decided I wanted to create a frame effect, and also to use some existing artwork, so I cut a frame out of one side of the bag. I then trimmed the artwork to size and oiled it with some clear paraffin lamp oil to make it more translucent. I suspect this would make the bag rather more flammable, which makes it doubly important to protect the candle flame with a jar, and also to make sure that the lantern is not left unattended – something which is good practice in any case whenever an open flame is being used. The artwork was then taped to the inside of the bag, to cover the window. Even when not being used as lanterns, these make attractive gift bags in their own right.
I also created a lantern which is a variation of the Valentine card I wrote about a few weeks ago, by cutting a design out of one side of the bag, using a sharp scalpel and cutting board (placed inside the bag). I then taped a piece of the kids bubble painting artwork inside the bag, so that it could be seen through the cut-out design. When you place a candle inside it lights up the artwork behind, which can be seen glowing through the cut-out design on the front. Of course you could dispense with the children’s artwork altogether here if you like, and just put a piece of coloured paper, or even foil behind to reflect the light. In fact, this version actually looks quite good in the daytime, even without a candle, just stood in front of a window.
I was really pleased with the lanterns which look gorgeous grouped together, and would provide a wonderful form of outdoor lighting for summer evening entertaining.