Etsy Journal

Explore ideas and inspiration for creative living

Make an Upcycled Cardboard Lantern

Freshen up your space with an elegant DIY lamp.

Have a pile of derelict boxes hanging around? Upcycled cardboard lanterns are the perfect way to transform trash into imaginative home decor that you can enjoy all year 'round. These simple lanterns are a breeze to make and add a cozy glow to any space. Any cardboard box will do, so have fun mixing shapes and sizes to make a dynamic display. You will need: Large cardboard box Box cutter or craft knife Tissue paper Hot glue gun Metal straight edge Gold spray paint Twine LED lights Duck tape Wooden dowel Paper lantern template (Download PDF here)
Take a cardboard box and cut so that the entire box lays flat and there's a large surface to work with. Use the template to measure and draw each piece of the lantern on the flat cardboard. Cut out the lantern design using a box cutter or craft knife. You should have 4 of Piece A (side panels), 8 of Piece B (triangles), and 1 of Piece C (top panel).
To score the sides of the box, take your craft knife and apply half pressure along the middle corners that are going to be folded to create the lantern shape. Fold the scored corners of Piece A and hot glue all the open sides together. Hot glue the triangles (Piece B) to the main body of the lantern. Cut out the top piece, but wait to attach it until the end.
When all pieces are connected, prime the cardboard with white spray paint. Once the coat is dry, add a top coat using metallic gold spray paint. Don’t forget to paint the top piece, too!
Once the paint has dried, take the colored tissue paper of your choice and cut enough so that it will cover the window shapes of the lanterns. Reach inside the lantern and hot glue the tissue paper to the open windows.
We used an under-cabinet LED strip to light our lantern, but any battery-operated LED light will work. To create the light fixture for your lantern, tape twine securely to the back of the LED strip, then hang the light in the lantern to measure how long you want your twine. Cut the twine, leaving about 1 inch extra. Pull the twine through the hole in the top piece of your lantern and tie the other end to a popsicle stick or wooden dowel.
Finally, place the LED light into the lantern and secure the lid tightly on top.
Now sit back and enjoy the beautiful glow of your handmade cardboard lantern!  All photographs by Handmade Charlotte.
Handmade Charlotte image
Handmade Charlotte

Rachel Faucett is the mother of five ridiculously cute children and has enough creative energy to run circles around them. When she’s not bringing her dreams to life with projects on her blog, Handmade Charlotte, you can find her traveling the world for inspiration or throwing awesome DIY parties at her farm just outside Atlanta. Named one of the 20 most influential Pinterest users by Business Insider, the author-designer also keeps herself busy designing for brands like Anthropologie and Pottery Barn Kids.

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