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Creating Translucent, Patterned Paper Lanterns with DIY Stamps and Oil

Updated: Nov 19, 2023

I learned a DIY stamp making technique from a printmaking workshop at at the Gonzales branch of the Denver Public Library ideaLABs — you can make a stamp by gluing cut pieces of foam (or other found materials like buttons, pipecleaners, etc.) onto a piece of cardboard.

I wondered if you might be able to create an interesting paper lantern with that type of stamp, but using oil instead of ink. Painting oil or wax onto paper is a technique used in some types of lantern-making like nebuta style lanterns. When the oil or wax soaks into the paper it creates areas of translucency where light can shine through.

I didn't think about how the oil might spread as the paper absorbed it, so the pattern got a little squishy but overall I loved how this technique worked out and how simple the materials are. I just used cooking oil, printer paper, and my cardboard/foam stamp here:

The paper lantern tube in this video is illuminated by the programmable LED lights built into the Circuit Playground Express.

Here's a video walking through the process described here:


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