Thursday, April 14, 2011

paper star lantern tutorial


I suppose it isn't exactly the right time of year for stars and lanterns, but I've got a paper folding fascination at the moment and so was drawn to a project I had wanted to do back in Autumn.  During last lantern season I was looking everywhere for instructions to make these beautiful paper lanterns and couldn't find them anywhere.  I ended up purchasing a lantern that was already made and since I've been struggling with some difficult folds and designs of other paper crafts, I decided to unfold the seemingly simple lantern I bought and figure the thing out for myself.  Like all traditional origami, no glue or cutting (once the basic outside shape of the paper is made) are required.  I feared that once I unfolded my lovely store-bought version I wouldn't be able to get it back together but thankfully it wasn't nearly as difficult as I assumed.

Since in my own quest for instructions I crossed paths with many other people looking for the same thing, I thought I'd do my best to share what I learned.  There may be better ways to do this and certainly my origami terminology will lack a little something but this is how I worked it out:

Begin with a 12" square of paper to end up with a lantern that is about 7" across when complete.  (Those beautiful wet-on-wet water colored paintings our children are turning out each season make for the lovliest lanterns.  Also, 12x12 is the standard size of the amazing array of scrapbook paper found at local craft stores.)

(Feb., 2012 edit:  A video tutorial of this project can now be found here.)


With what will ultimately be the outside of your lantern (the painted side) face up, fold the paper in half horizontally and vertically and then again on each diagonal effectively dividing the page into eight pie wedges. 

For  crisper creases and to help fold thicker card stocks, try using a bone folder.  The more exact the folds, the nicer the finished project will be.

(The dashed and dotted lines shown here are guides for the next step.)


To further divide the paper into 16 wedges, turn the paper over (painted side down so this second set of 8 folds are "valleys" to the first 8 fold's "hills") and make another fold between each of the eight sections by lining up the existing folds and the center point.

To help illustrate I marked the paper with dotted and dashed lines.  The dotted lines (marked on both the front and back of the page) fold to align directly on top of the dashed line.  (For more exact alignment, check the line at 90° and make sure it also aligns exactly with the corner fold underneath it.)




At the same time these folds are being made, lightly mark with a pencil the triangle piece that is sticking out at each of the four corners.  

The only scissor work of this project takes place here.


 



Cut off  the four marked corners of the paper.

With all of these folds complete and the corners removed, the octagonal "pie" will now have 16 wedges.

With the painted side down, using the existing lines between the eight points as a guide (the dotted lines), fold down the paper edge (on the dash-dot line that connects the end points of the dotted lines). 


For extra visual assistance, note that the solid lines lay one atop the other.

Repeat this fold eight times.

It might be easiest to understand this by first folding in the top, bottom and two sides, creating a square, then unfolding the paper, rotating it 45 degrees and repeating the process of creating a second square.



In the end there will be an eight pointed star formed by the folds (or two squares - one overlaying the other).




Fold in the edges of one of those squares. 

Again, if the paper has a painted side, it is face down for this step.






Flip over the paper (so the outside is up) and fold in the already creased corners.

This is where it gets tricky and the instructions are best understood with paper in hand just trying to work it out I think...



Between each folded-in corner, reach around to the other side of the paper and gently grab the center point (where the arrow is pointing) from the back side.

It will, by nature of the existing folds, turn into a triangle as it is pulled.


Flip that triangle over the edge until it too points to the center of the side of the page that is currently face up.  (For illustration purposes I drew the arrow on both sides of the paper.)


The center of the paper will start to crinkle and this is totally fine.







Continue doing this all the way around.  By carefully cupping the paper and helping pop the folds into their proper place when necessary, the star pattern will begin to take shape.









I have to say that when it all just fell into place I was quite surprised.



Press the project down onto a flat surface to flatten the bottom into a level cup shape.  

The lantern I purchased was coated with oil which increases the translucency (and sort of magical quality) of the paper.  To do this simply rub with any vegetable or olive oil prior to folding and let it dry overnight.  (I would suggest perhaps attempting your first version without. )

Of course, these beautiful pieces are made of paper and so are quite flammable.  I would suggest placing a glass votive around an open flame prior to putting it in the lantern and, as with all burning objects, caution should be used and candles should never be left unattended.


My mum likes to use those little battery powered tea lights and they are, of course, quite safe and a great option for very small children.




35 comments:

  1. Great Tutorial! Thanks for sharing! I've been wanting to make some of these with my children. (I popped over from The Magic Onions!)

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  2. Great tutorial. Very clear instructions. I might even be able to fold one, they have always seemed so daunting in the past. thank you.

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  3. This is great! I've always wanted to try these... but I'm a little intimidated by paper folding. There, I said it.

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  4. Good directions with good pictures! Thank you very much!

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  5. thankyou for sharing this tutorial. Ive been flicking through your old posts and found much inspiration and some lovely verses to use in my home day care. I also love that you record lots of conversations with your daughter, so cute to read and im sure she will love reading them when shes older:)

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  6. Oh, I'm glad it makes sense. I had Ryan try my instructions and re-wrote them twice! I hope someone is able to successfully create a beautiful lantern at home.

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  7. I began making a star lantern this evening and suddenly realised i couldn't remember how any more..
    And then while i sat in gloom wondering what i could possibly do now, i found this!
    And it has been the greatest lesson by far!
    With much thanks and inspiration,
    a star-lantern maker. x

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  8. Oh good. I'm glad it was useful! I'm sure it turned out beautifully :)

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  9. What a lovely project & great tutorial. We are featuring it on Dollar Store Crafts on 2/26. http://dollarstorecrafts.com/2012/02/make-origami-star-lanterns/ (the link will work once the post goes live!)

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  10. Oh! Very nice!... Thank you so much for the tutorial...

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  11. Thanks for these instructions; I was happy to share the link on How About Orange!

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  12. Thanks for linking Jessica and Heather. I'm glad folks are finding the instructions usable. I've never had so much traffic on my blog! (Not that I gain anything from it other than a giddiness at which my husband has to laugh.) Always happy to share :)

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  13. Thank you for this tutorial, I made my first one without any problems! Love your blog and am now a follower! - from Denmark

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  14. Oh my god I just made one and it is so easy!! Ahah I had some problems only with the first step because I couldn't understand if the printed side had to be face up or down, so I used the video, but a part from that the instructions were really clear! Ah and I was as well surprised when during the last steps the points started to create from basically nowhere xD thanks again!!
    ps: please note that I refrained from using capital letters in the entire message for the only reason that it is quite impolite... but if we were actually talking, I would be screaming because of the excitement xD
    thanks again (:

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    1. Wow, thanks for your enthusiastic comment!! So glad it was easy for you. Isn't it such a surprise when all of a sudden it's a star?! Enjoy :)

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  15. I just made two of these from a 12x12 sheet and a 6x6. So cute and fun once I figured out how everything folded together.

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  16. :O I feel it's a little difficult! But I'm doing it!!I really love and desire to make one!!Love the star!!!

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    1. It can be tricky. Try checking out the video if you get stuck. Good luck!

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  17. Thanks for the tutorial!
    http://potluckrevival.com/post/19193267929/tealight-holders-for-the-upcoming

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    1. Love that photo of the Pile of Lanterns!

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  18. I definitely spaced out during the last step and made it inside out on accident! I was wondering why it was so difficult... but after I figured out what had happened, it was a breeze.

    Thanks for the wonderful tutorial. I may propose these as a part of the centerpiece for my church's wine tasting fundraiser. :)

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  19. These are lovely, thanks for the clear instructions. Worth pointing out that oiling the paper will make it extra flammable, though...

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  20. Would love to make a ton of these for my future dream wedding! :)

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  21. muchas gracias... quedo muy lindo!!!

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  22. I guess I am all thumbs, what I ended up with was a lopsided "thing".

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    1. I'm sorry yours didn't work out. Maybe try working alongside the video? (The video link is right at the bottom of this post.) Good luck!

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  23. I forgot to tell you how utterly beautiful the little lanterns are, made out of every kind of paper I could find and every size i could manage. Myself and 3 other women around 70ish had several very enjoyable afternoons making them. It took me at least a dozen or so to get the hang of the folding, but when I did, then WE all went to work or play. Thank you so much for sharing. Jeri Atkin

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    1. What a lovely way to spend a few afternoons. Crafting is always best in the company of friends I think. I'm so glad you were able to get the hang of it, and it sounds like you've probably got quite a collection of lanterns! Warm wishes to you and your folding mates :) - dionne

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  24. Thank you so much for this wonderful tutorial! You did a great job. I featured it today on my blog, and sent my readers here for the full tutorial. Thanks again!

    http://ninered.blogspot.com/2012/10/how-to-origami-star-lantern.html

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  25. Very nice lantern for holiday!Many thanks for sharing it, I would try to do it this afternoon. Thank you :)

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  26. Hi dionne,
    You idea about paper lanterns is awesome !! you are really a Genius.

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  27. These are so awesome! My son is really into origami, so I showed him this tutorial and he has been making star lanterns ever since! I think we are up to 30 of them! Well, got to go get more paper!

    Jim Tracy | http://www.mildredscountrygifts.com/product.asp?dept_id=45230&pfid=12288

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