Skip directly to content

Paper Bag Lanterns

Materials:

  • Paper bags
  • black paint
  • paint brushes
  • LED candles

This idea has been around for ages. I would guess ever since there were paper bags, there were paper bag lanterns. So why on earth would I create instructions for such a project?

There are a few answers. First, I'm also going to give you tips on how to paint tree silhouettes.

Second, well...it's just such a simple, inexpensive idea, I think people forget all about it. 

These days, there's no excuse not to make your own. The Internet offers loads of free clip art for those who prefer not to experiment with their own designs. 

You can download images from the web, cut out silhouettes, and use them as stencils to trace and then paint onto the bags. OR you can trace the silhouettes onto black construction paper, cut that out and glue it to the bag. OR you can be brave and paint it yourself. 

The options are endless. Do a search for "Halloween clip art" or go to pumpkin carving sites that offer patterns. Owls, letters spelling out spooky messages, witches, spiders....the choices are endless.

I need trees for the theme I'm working on at this time. I have never been good at painting trees, which is exactly why I decided to try it out today (face your artistic fears!). 

I've already admitted I'm not an expert. I was as green as many of you are. Here's what I did.

It sounds funny but the first thing I did was look at pictures of trees online, paying attention to how branches bend and split into V's. I kept these up on the screen while I painted the first one, and then I just made it up as I went along.

1. Start with a trunk. Thick at the bottom, moving up in almost a ? or hook shape, tapering at the top (picture 1 far left).

2. At the bend of the "hook", just as it curves, paint a straighter limb that follows the line of the trunk. Make a V shape between the old branch and the new one where they meet. If you need to thicken your trunk a bit, that's fine.

3. Continue this process, adding smaller V branches at bends and angles along your branches. It might help to use a smaller brush for the smaller branches. 

4. Stagger your branch lengths (don't have them all the same size, ending and starting at the same spot). Overlap branches.

Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Practice on a piece of paper first to experiment if you're too nervous.

Once your lantern is dry, put 2 or 3 LED candles (absolutely NO real candles please) inside (1 works too, but I like the look of multiple lights).