Make a Star Lantern

Carnival Brings You Light! 

Follow our easy to follow instructions – produced in partnership with our amazingly creative friends at ARK T – to make your  Carnival lantern.

Download full instructions for making your lantern

Gather Your Materials

Traditional materials and tools used to make the base of a lantern include:

  • Willow sticks
  • Cutters
  • Masking tape

But if you don’t have these, don’t worry! All you need are some straight sticks for the base. You could use:

  • Sticks cut from a tree or bush
  • Garden bamboo plant support sticks
  • Coat hangers you have unbent

Design Your Lantern

Once you’ve made these decisions you need to design your lantern on paper. Think about the shape you are going to make and how many willow sticks you will need.

We decided to make five-pointed stars. These use five sticks, all the same length.

We use willow, but you can use sticks, coat hangers or whatever you have at home. We have made this lantern from willow, sticks from a bush and from coat hangers!

Cut Your Sticks

You now need to cut your stick lengths.

If you are using willow, remember it is thicker at one end. You want to use the thicker end, so measure your cuts from there.

You might need to use a cutting tool, garden shears or scissors, depending on your material.

If you are making the star lantern, all the sticks are the same size. First create your marker by cutting one stick to the perfect length. You can put a piece of masking tape on the end so you can recognize it.

Put it Together

You now need to fix your sticks into the shape you designed.

Use a long piece of masking tape and go round and round each join to keep the sticks secured to each other. Don’t worry if it looks messy – you are going to cover it. It’s more important that it’s firmly secured:

Once you have your basic shape, you will need to repeat it to make the other sides of the 3D design.

In our instance we needed to make two identical stars:

The two shapes should match when they are put one on top of the other.

To make it 3D you will need to cut five smaller sticks to masking tape to each of the five middle joins to give the star its shape.

Finally, we cut two more small sticks of willow to make a platform to stand your light on.

Cut them to size and use masking tape to secure them into a platform.

Cover Your Lantern

Once you have put your base put together, the fun really begins!

Traditionally, lanterns are covered with a special type of tissue paper called ‘wet strength tissue paper’. It’s a little bit stronger than usual tissue so it doesn’t tear when wet. 

But if you don’t have this, you can cover your lantern with any material you have to hand.

If you are covering your lantern with tissue paper, the first step is to protect your work surface. Tissue paper stains so make sure you don’t stain your table!

Next you mix a big pot of diluted glue. Use half PVA glue and half water. Stir it together. Then use a brush or a sponge to cover your pieces of tissue paper.

Grab your stick frame, and holding the four corners of your tissue paper piece apart, place it on the lantern structure. Curl it around the edges so it sticks to the edge of your lantern.

Work your way along covering each section of the lantern. Make sure you overlap each piece of tissue paper by 2cm as you go, and smooth down any bits that are sticking up.

Keep going until you have covered the whole lantern!

Once your tissue is dry, use scissors or a craft knife to cut a little square doorway in the bottom. This is so you can access the platform we built into the frame. That is where you can put your LED light to make the lantern shine.


Now you can decorate your lantern. You could cut out shapes in black paper and glue them on. You can paint shapes or write messages on your lantern. We wrote feel good messages on our stars: Be Brave, Be Kind, Be Yourself

Covering Without Tissue Paper

If you don’t have tissue paper readily to hand, why not cover your lantern with something you do have access to at home?

Stretching, sewing or draping fabric over the lantern looks lovely. The light can still shine through if the fabric is sheer or thin.

Or if you aren’t going to light up your lantern but want it as great daytime decoration, you could cover it with decorated tin foil for a space age look!