A couple of years ago we made autumn leaf lanterns, and ever since then. . .
. . . we've wanted to make. . .
. . . planet lanterns. . .
. . . as a way to help in solar system studies. . .
. . . or maybe just to hold the sun in our hands.
- Tissue paper (white and other colors that match the planets you would like to make)
- White glue (roughly one small bottle for the larger planets, less for the smaller ones)
- Balloons (standard size, but you may want a large "punching" balloon if you would like to make the sun)
- Paint and paintbrushes (watercolor or gouache so it will still be translucent)
- LED tea light candles (for the truest color on your planets, use white light vs. amber)
- Thin bendable wire
- Card stock (for labels)
Start by mixing the glue with some water (about 2% milk consistency). Next blow up balloons to match the planet sizes (optional but educational). I found this website very helpful for size comparisons. Also, make sure your balloons don't have any designs or writing on them as that tends to make them stick to the paper mache.
Cut the tissue paper into small rectangles, about 2" X 3". If you are working on a planet that is only one color (or primarily one color) use tissue paper that is that color. For planets with more variation or detail, use white paper and paint them later. Start dipping the paper in the glue mixture and apply one sheet at a time to the balloon, leaving about a 3"-6" opening at the top depending on the size of the balloon. If it starts to get a little drippy just apply the paper dry, and paint on enough grue to make it stick. Continue doing this until you have 3-4 layers of tissue paper (it seems thin, but the glue will give it a lot of structure).
Once the balloons are thoroughly coated string them up to let them dry completely. In the meantime, you can make labels for the planets. These can be as simple as just a typed name, or there could be interesting facts on each label.
After the tissue paper has dried completely (preferably over night), it's time to pop the balloon. This can be a bit nerve racking, but mostly exciting. Once a a good sized hole is cut into the balloon the rubber will begin to pull away from the paper. This may pull the paper inward, and require a little reshaping once the balloon has completely pulled away (you may also need to help pull the balloon away from the paper in thinner areas).
Now that the balloon is out, You can begin painting the planets that need a bit more detail (like earth and the moon etc.). Allow to dry. Trim the top edge with scissors to get a clean opening.
Use the bendable wire to make a simple handle. To do this, poke a hole with the wire in one side of the lantern about 2" down from the top. Weave the wire through and twist it around itself to secure (see images above). Repeat the process with the other end of the wire place a small LED tea light candle at the bottom of the lantern (or a few of them if you would like a brighter lantern).
Hang them up in your room or take your planets for a walk in the evenings as the sun sets just a bit earlier each day.
*Last time in Crafts and Activities: Math Land Board Game