Where we live, we are lucky enough to be surrounded by lakes and beautiful countryside. There are many local events residents look forward to, the weekend long May Celebrations, The Steam Fair, The Old George Music Festival. We particularly love the  Willow Lantern Pageant where local youth groups, schools, home educators and families form a procession around the lakes with the lanterns they have made, usually to the accompaniment of  live music.  (You can read an article and see photographs of this year’s pageant here.)

Making willow lanterns is a great craft, once you’ve mastered the basics you can create all sorts of designs. Willow is so sturdy that even scale is not a problem, for the first pageant we helped to create a life sized woolly mammoth! Perhaps you could hold your own procession, or even use your lanterns to decorate your garden or light a den you’ve built indoors!

Willow Lanterns

You will need:

Dried willow (which you can buy, or you could simply gather fallen willow branches from trees, picking the sturdier looking stems and stripping them of any leaves)

Secateurs or wire cutters for trimming the willow

Masking Tape

Tissue Paper (any colours you like)

PVA Glue

A Glow Stick

String or twine

  • To make a simple cylindrical lantern, make two circles from your willow, gently bending the rods and taping in place with masking tape.

  • Next trim 6 to 8 willow rods to about the same height (our lanterns are around 6 inches). Then start to join these, again with masking tape, to the circles to form a cylinder shape.

  • Then add some diagonal struts all the way around. When you have done this, also stick one rod across the top of one of your end circles, this will be to hang your glow stick from and attach handles.

  • Now you’re ready to start papering the lantern. Mix your PVA glue with some water, you want it fairly runny. Tear or cut your tissue paper into long strips. Brush glue all over the strips, as you use them, and start to glue in place all over your willow structure so the sides are completely covered. Then leave to dry overnight.

  • The next day, when your lantern is dry, you can tie your glow stick so that it dangles down inside the lantern and add some string to either end of the willow rod so that you can carry it or hang it up. Or, if you wanted, you could glue on shapes and patterns in other colours of tissue paper.

If you can’t get hold of willow at all, here is another fantastic lantern idea you could try that uses tin cans and tealights, from the lovely Skip To My Lou blog.

How did your lantern turn out?