How To Make Chinese Lanterns

Far too long ago, I promised a post about how to make Chinese lanterns. Okay, so maybe it was only a week ago but not only did I not post a tutorial, I didn’t post anything. Fail!

Ahem.

GATHER YOUR MATERIAL

  • Two different colors of construction paper (or cardstock or regular paper but I had this lovely marbled construction paper on hand–I like me a free project)
  • Glue stick (Elmer’s wet glue would probably have worked as well but the glue stick dries faster which means a faster project–I like me a fast project)
  • Scissors
  • Tissue paper cut into strips

STEP ONE

1.a — Pick which color you want to be your outside color. This is the body of the lantern.

1.b — Fold that paper in half length-wise. On my paper, one side had more prominent marbling so I chose that to be the outside.

1.c — Starting at the folded edge, cut strips into the paper but not all the way through. I left about an inch at the top. I used a paperclip to make my strips even. My sister said that was far too meticulous for her. But it’s my craft so I used a paperclip!

STEP TWO

2.a — Take your OTHER paper and cut off about an inch length-wise.

2.b — Cut that strip down a few inches. The first lantern I didn’t do this step and the handle (which is what this strip of paper will be) looked too long for me. Cut it or don’t. Your choice!

2.c — Put some glue on the paper and give to your daughter because she’ll want to help. Maybe only do this step if you’re using a glue stick… I didn’t have to worry if she stuck it on furniture or walls or floors this way.

STEP THREE

3.a — Open your first paper and decide where the placement of your handle should be. I chose mine by folding the paper into a circle and then marking where opposite sides of the circle was. Sorry… no picture of that.

3.b — Glue your long strip down on the INSIDE of the cut paper like the picture shows.  I chose to put the marble side IN this time so it could contrast with the outer marbling of the body of the lantern.

STEP FOUR

4.a — Take strips of tissue paper and glue them to the bottom of the lantern–this is OPPOSITE the handle you made in step 3. I chose three different colors. I glued them on randomly.

4.b — Mine are all different lengths. If too many of them were the same length, I cut ’em. Your choice!

4.c — Notice  that I didn’t put any on one side. That’s because later on, we’ll be making a circle and that part will be overlapping the opposite side so I didn’t want the tissue paper doubling up there.

STEP FIVE

5.a — Take the remaining piece of your secondary color–the one that we cut the handle strip from.

5.b — Glue it along the bottom of the lantern. Bottom = the side with the tissue paper. Remember the part where we didn’t glue any tissue paper? Don’t glue right there.

STEP SIX

6.a — Glue the top of the second paper to the top of the first paper. It’ll look like this.

6.b — Remember to not glue the top where we haven’t been gluing anything. It’ll make sense during the next step.

STEP SEVEN

7.a — Wrap the paper to make a circle. Cone… uh, that shape up there.

7.b — Put the glued side (you know, with the tissue paper and everything) INSIDE the unglued side.

7.c — Glue. (I think I only glued the outside paper because the inside paper stayed just fine without needing anything.) This was probably the hardest step because the outside paper bends and I didn’t want to create another crease.

HANG AND ENJOY

Actually, you probably want to make more. I made a total of five. All different color combination! It took me maybe an hour once I figured out the quickest technique. (My first lantern was NOT the quick way to do it.)

My first thought at hanging them was strung across some windows in my family room. I quickly discovered that I did not like that. They were just smooshed against the window and looked weird. Maybe if I had a curtain rod up that would give the lanterns some space, but I didn’t. And don’t. So plan b was to hang them from the ceiling somewhere. I had a few different spots in mind but ultimately settled on a corner in my kitchen. That space always looked lonely and I thought some artwork on the wall would fix it up. Well, I still don’t have any artwork up and I still think something on that wall would be great, but for now, I’m enjoying some hanging lanterns.

Another confession: I didn’t hang them. When my family got there that day, they were sitting all ready to be hung… but not hung. So my brother in law gave my brother a lesson on how to figure out where to drill into my ceiling. I knew where I wanted it to be (center in this corner–see where the window is?) and I just needed a hook on the ceiling. NOTE: We installed a cup hook. No anchor or anything. That means whatever I hang here can’t be very heavy or else I will have a hole in my ceiling.

I skipped a step in here. I tied yarn onto all the handles and then hung them from the inner loop of an embroidery hoop. I spaced them how I wanted and then put the outer loop on so the yarn couldn’t move around. My sister actually tied the yarn so that it could be hung from the hook that my brother installed in my ceiling.

Family affair, people.

We are still enjoying these lanterns! And since I love something in that corner now, they will probably stay up until I decide what else to put there. Any guesses on when that will be? Christmas?

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Chinese New Year 2011

Welcome to the year of the dragon! As I said in my last post, we celebrated a little late but within the 8 day traditional celebration so it’s all good! And boy, was it ALL good. Until I was preparing my pictures for this post. My computer ate 9 or 10 of my pictures. Good thing I had made the collage already but it should not have happened and I have no idea how it did. Lame.

We always think we’re going to have an appetizer or two and then a meal. That would require the food to be done at roughly the same time. That rarely happens. We just graze. When something is done, we eat. And we make more food.

These little crab rangoon appetizers were delicious! I’d point you to the recipe but I didn’t find it. Or make it. I just bought the wrappers. I heard they were a little on the crispy side at first but when they sprayed them with olive oil before baking, they turned out super yummy. I had one of the sprayed ones. I only got one. They didn’t seem to stick around very long! That’s how good they were. Thanks to Valerie & Reed for these! (Reed is the one in the photo.)

The other appetizer were spring rolls. There isn’t even a recipe for me to point you towards. This is where you have food to roll in a wrapper that has been soaked for 30 seconds (or so) in water. (You can also fry them but they are lovely like this. So fresh tasting! Our options were peas, mango, carrots, cucumber, lettuce, chicken (I think!) and two types of sauce (plum and chili). My dad made me one–so yummy. I only had one of these but that’s okay because I got the leftover wrappers and had some for lunch today.  Thanks to Jamie!

The first year I made bow (pronounced like bow & curtsy, not the type of bow that goes in your hair), it was interesting. Very dense. Good, but not proper bow. The second year I made it (last year), I used a different recipe and it came out so good. Still not perfect and steamed but I guessed what the problem was and this year I confirmed it (my steamer and tons of condescension). Also, my dough didn’t want to stay closed (see the bottom left picture so I did it the quicker way and used a calzone press to easily cut them and seal them. Some of them still puffed open but not too bad. And they were still yummy even if my husband was sad about not having the traditional shape.

Remember when I was soaking the red beans? Funny (not really) story about that… I put the pan on the stove to boil. It wasn’t a rapid boil and I made sure there was plenty of water in the pot before I went upstairs to put Kaelyn down for a nap. 15 minutes later, I come downstairs and the pan is boiled dry. Not just a little bit either. It had burned my pan and I had to throw it out. I started to soak more beans and asked my husband to buy another pan on his way home. So much for getting the beans cooked the day before.

The red beans were for the baked nian gao which is basically glutinous rice flour and red bean paste. It looks like a brownie. And it shouldn’t. I have extra flour AND red beans (although yes, I have to cook them again), so I’ll be making this dish again because it was good despite the over-done outside part. Two things to remember for next time: use a bigger pan when cooking the dish (I used my 8×8 because it was available but the recipe called for a 9×9) and don’t refrigerate the bean paste.

I had a bowl of oranges out which the kids loved and had several of them.

We made baked egg rolls. The bowl is only part of the filling. There was meat in another container.

I don’t have a picture of the tomato beef chow mein which my parents made (but it was good!) or the wontons (which we prepared and then ended up not cooking them until the next day when it was only two of the four families around for dinner because we already had so much food from everything else) or the vegetable dish (because we had so much food we didn’t put it together) or the almond curd junket (I think that’s the right name–it was good and was a nice light dessert with some fruit).

Oh! And then there was my one single decoration. It’s kinda five decorations in one… I didn’t get the chance to hang them beforehand so my brother got a lesson in how to drill a hole in my ceiling in the spot I wanted. I have more pictures and a tutorial coming up for those Chinese lanterns. I’ll be keeping them up for a while because 1) I like them, 2) they’re colorful, and 3) I LOVE having something hung in the spot I chose them to hang in. Like I said, more pictures for another post.

All in all, I was standing in the kitchen with brief rest periods for about seven hours. Many thanks to my family who all came and had a good time! Preparing the food is such a huge portion of the celebration for us. Everyone helped. Except the little girls who watched Kung Fu Panda part of the time.

gung hay fat choy!