Thursday, June 14, 2012

Picture Frame Lantern (DIY) ~Woodland Wedding~

Outdoor wedding receptions are magical.  Music and laughter are carried by the breeze.  No matter the location, it's always a breathtaking, beautiful event.  The secret is lighting.  

Candles, strings of Christmas lights, and lanterns can transform any outdoor space into a romantic ballroom.  We've seen the generic paper lanterns from Oriental Trading Company (I'm guilty of going this route for my big day), but here's a much more elegant lighting solution: Picture frame lanterns.  These gorgeous hanging lanterns will look charming at twilight or in full sun.  Each lantern is made from four picture frames and cardboard with a flameless candle inside.
Here's how to make your own:

You will need:
4 picture frames, all the same size
4 small metal rings (about .5" diameter or larger)
metal chain (at least two feet)
metal key ring
heavy cardboard
black paint
hammer and small nails (if your frames are wooden)
hot glue gun
X-Acto knife
metal ruler
no-flame candle
wire clippers

Four identical frames are required for this project.  I bought these from Dollar Tree. FYI: don't buy the set of frames I have, the paw print design was stamped on the glass and had to be sanded off.  No fun.  Start by removing the glass and backing from your frames.  
Nail or hot glue the frames together to form a cube shape.    
If yours are made of wood, I recommend nailing them together, as the lantern will be much sturdier.  These frames are hollow plastic, so I had to hot glue them together.  Make sure to go heavy on the hot glue; it would be tragic if a lantern collapsed on an unsuspecting wedding guest's head. Well....tragic or funny depending on who the victim was.
To make the base, set the frame cube on your cardboard and draw a square around it.  I wanted my base to be slightly larger than the lantern body, so I added about an inch of space between the lantern and the line on each side.  Cut it out with the X-Acto knife and metal ruler.
Glue the cube on the base.  If you are painting your lantern, now is the time.

*Tip: to prevent the candle from sliding around, I glued a jar lid in the center of the lantern base.  This holds the candle pretty well, but if you are expecting wind, use tape underneath as an added precaution.
Please use flame-less candles.
Most store-bought lanterns are made of metal.  Because this lantern is made of plastic and cardboard, it is very flammable.  I don't want to see your maimed wedding guests on the news and feel responsible for it.  Although a rampant forest fire will make your special day memorable, no one will like you afterward, and they might not like me or my blog, either.
Now it's time to paint the lace.  I definitely recommend finding black lace, but if you can't, just spray paint it.  When the lace is dry, it's time to glue it to the glass sections. With the glue gun, squeeze glue around the edge of the glass.  Press the lace into the glue using a toothpick.
Carefully trim any excess lace from the edges. Don't cut your fingers on the exposed glass edges.
Set your lantern on its side and place the glass sections back into each frame with the lace facing inward.  If your frames have little tabs to hold the glass, use them.  My plastic frames did not, so I used loads of hot glue to secure the glass.
To add the chain:  
Any chain should work as long as its strong enough to hold up the weight of the lantern.  I found a chain at the Goodwill Outlet Center, but you can also buy it at a hardware store.  With wire clippers, divide the chain into four equal sections (my sections are each 18" long).
If your frames are wooden, lucky you!  Just nail the bottom link of a chain section in each upper corner of the lantern.  If the frames are hollow plastic, like mine, you will need to either glue the chain or drill holes. I drilled a hole in each corner and used the four small rings to connect the chain.  If you choose to glue them, use super glue or another industrial glue to secure them.
Combine the ends of the four chains with the key ring.
Before hanging, use glass cleaner to remove all the fingerprints that collected as you put the lantern together.
To hang the lanterns, use ribbon.  Thread it through the key ring and over the branch or bar.  With ribbon, you can easily adjust the height and hang in tricky spots, such as branches.  Don't bother trimming excess ribbon ends, leave them to dance and move in the breeze.

Similar lanterns for sale at Restoration Hardware

Non-wedding uses for Picture Frame Lanterns:

*Centerpiece - Make without the chain or candle and set on your dining table.  Fill with pine cones or fake fruit for an easy table decoration

*Halloween - For a creepy trick or treat light, hang by the front door with an orange or red no-flame candle
* Photo display - Tape photos to the glass (still leaving off the backing) and turn the no-flame candle on for an illuminated picture lamp
This tutorial was featured on!