Flying lanterns float into the sky when heated by an open flame in the same manner as a hot-air balloon. The original flying lantern was constructed from a bamboo hoop with thin sheets of paper attached to form a bag or cube. From the opening at the bottom, hot air filled the lantern, fueled by a burning candle or a piece of cloth soaked in oil. As the lanterns cooled, they dropped gently back to earth. Modern flying lanterns are much like their predecessors — only safer, thanks to the addition of flame retardant to the paper. And, unlike the early days, instead of sending information to the army, many people write messages or wishes on their lanterns before sending them skyward.
Here’s what you need to make your flying paper lantern:
- 1 package pf tissue paper
- Any color paper fireproofing product
- Clothesline pins
- Craft paper
- Bamboo, 1 inch in diameter, approximately 4 feet long
- Copper wire
- 1 square of thin cardboard, 2 inches on each side
- Jumbo cotton ball
- Rubbing alcohol
- Aluminum foil
To make your flying paper lantern:
1. Pin four sheets of tissue paper to the clothesline and spray with fireproofing product, avoiding the corners where the pins are. Allow paper to dry.
2. Glue each sheet of treated tissue paper to an untreated sheet, joining them lengthwise with a thin layer of adhesive.
3. On craft paper, draw a pattern that resembles half of a mitten. Your completed lantern will resemble a hot-air balloon when the four pieces are joined. Make four half-mitten pieces from the craft paper and tape them together, with the flat portion open on the bottom, creating a mock-up of your lantern and adjusting where necessary. When you are satisfied with the design, remove the tape.
4. Using the craft pattern as a guide, cut the tissue paper, making four slightly curved pieces with one straight edge. Glue the lantern pieces together, leaving the straight edge open, creating the bottom of the lantern.
5. Make a bamboo hoop. Split the bamboo into thin strips, carefully moving a knife slowly down the length of the pole. Test the strips for pliability by bending them slightly between your hands. Once you find a pliable piece, sand it until it is smooth. Form a hoop with the bamboo strip and secure the ends with glue.
6. Install a wire X onto the frame; secure in place with staples. Cover the cardboard square with foil and secure it to the center of the X with tape, staples or glue.
7. Make a foil cup, large enough to hold the cotton ball. Tape this to the center of the pad.
8. Attach the tissue paper to the hoop at the open bottom with tape, staples or glue — remember, it works like a hot-air balloon, so the foil cup should be facing the inside.
9. Take your lantern outside. Soak the cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and place the saturated cotton in the foil cup. Light the cotton on fire and hold the lantern, allowing it to fill with warm air. When the sides are hot and you can feel the lantern pulling away, release it.
Bamboo’s qualities offer such a terrific source for bamboo shirts, bamboo socks and bamboo underwear. Because of the soft characteristics of the fabric, it makes for a wonderful bamboo bath towel and bamboo robe too!