Monday, October 01, 2012

Mid-Autumn Moon Festival and a paper lantern tutorial

Yesterday was the moon festival which is celebrated in both China and Vietnam. It's handy for us that there are similarities between the major holidays of the two countries. As I had mentioned before, we were going to set about making our own paper lanterns this year. They turned out pretty well and were fairly easy, so I thought I would share how we did it.

The first thing you need is some paper. I went to the paper store (a really nice, but pricey affair which I rarely go into for that reason) and found some thin, nice paper that we could use. I first picked some really beautiful papers with Asian designs, but put them right back after I looked at the $10 per sheet price tag. Here is what I ended up with.

The next step is to make your lantern base. We used both heavy paper plates and chip board boxes (like cereal boxes). You can see the thermos in the picture that I used to make the pattern. Either find something with a nice size or make a 5-1/2 inch diameter circle.

K. cutting out his base

Other working away

Here is the stack of bases

The next order of business is to make a pattern. (This is especially important if you are going to be cutting into nice, not cheap, paper.) I wrapped a piece of paper around the base to make the pattern. If you are using the same base size, the rectangle pattern is 5-1/2 inches high and 17 inches long. Then use the pattern to cut out as many lanterns as you need.

After the paper is cut out, take a straight edge and draw a line (on the back) about 1/2 inch from the bottom. This is going to be your guide when you cut the tabs to attach it to the base. Cut tabs, an inch or so wide along the entire bottom edge of the lantern.

Now carefully go along and fold each of the tabs toward the back of the paper. You can use the line you drew as a folding guide.

Now comes the trickiest part... and it's not that tricky. Slowly attach the paper to the base, wrapping it around and securing each tab with tape along the bottom. Because you are making something that is straight match a curve, the tabs will overlap each other as you go along. Continue this way until you have attached the paper all around the base.

Now take a longer piece of tape and secure the paper where the end meets and overlaps.

You will want to be able to hang or carry your lantern, so I used packing tape to reinforce two (opposite) places along the top edge.  This is especially important if the paper is thin or fragile.

Use a hole punch to punch a hole on either side,

then tie a length of yarn through each hole so it can hang. (Blogger baffles me sometimes and I have no idea why it turns my pictures every once in a while. Turn your head for this one.)

On the inside of the lantern, we put battery operated tea lights. I was able to find these at the dollar store in packages of three. Look in the candle section... it took me forever to find them. I know, it seems obvious now.

Here is TM showing how the completed lantern hangs from a stick so it can be carried.

Some of the completed lanterns waiting for the evening's festivities.

We had five spice chicken and pot stickers and then it was time to go outside and light the lanterns. Here are G. (on left) and L. They don't look overly excited, but they were. So I asked them to smile.

This is what I got:  two rather crazed looking three-year-olds. We are evidently reaching that age where they can't create a natural smile on command.


D. and K.

Here is what the lanterns looked like without the flash.

We walked around the block holding our lanterns. Well, all of us except those in high school who didn't hold lanterns and shuffled a bit behind. The sky was clear so we were able to see the moon.

And then we came back in and had moon cakes. I usually order just pineapple, but I got one pineapple and one bean paste. It turns out that my crew like the bean paste ones as much or more than the pineapple. I still like the pineapple the best.

Happy Tet Trung Thu/Zhongqiu jie!


Ann said...

TM looks so nice with long hair! I'm glad you let him keep it. And of course this looks like a wonderful project. Btw, check out for things like leftover tea lights, etc. They have great prices, and you never know what you'll find.

Sara (and for our trip to China, Abby) said...

They look great! Our 3 yo twins girls do the same smiles! Thanks for sharing your ideas!

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