Picture of Flickering Origami Lantern

I made a slew of origami lanterns for a friend's wedding a few years back, and it seemed only right to add lights to the design. After all, they are lanterns! As I have no desire to burn my apartment down, I decided to use some flickering LEDs from Evil Mad Scientist that give the appearance of a candle, without the paper-eating flame. You can use whatever LEDs you like.

As these were made to look like Chinese lanterns, I chose red and yellow for my colors. You can obviously make these in different colors/shapes/sizes and customize to your heart's content.

You'll find me telling you to experiment a lot, because it's fun to tinker, and because it allows you to make this project your own. I want to see pictures of what you've modified!

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Step 1: Gather Materials

Picture of Gather Materials



Wire Strippers

Wire Cutters


Hot Glue Gun


Skewer or small screwdriver


Coin Cell Battery (optional)

Soldering Iron and Solder (optional)

Electrical Tape (optional)


6" x 6" paper

Scrap paper

Colored paper

Embroidery floss or other string

Metal Nut or Washer

LED (flickering or otherwise)

AA Battery Pack with switch

Batteries for Battery Pack


Step 2: Fold the Body

Picture of Fold the Body

A note about paper: I am a bit of a paper enthusiast. I do tons of origami, but rarely use that omnipresent standard washi paper because a) it's overpriced, and b) I find it boring. You do want something translucent or thin enough to see the light, and you can use washi, but you can also find big sheets of thin mulberry paper (~$4-5) or vellum (~$2) and cut into appropriate sized squares. I used red vellum for this example, which shows the creases more readily, but also works better with the light.

The base shape of this lantern is your basic origami ball, with the addition of a hole cut in the closed end. You'll find photos here of all of the steps to make one from a 6" x 6" square. If you need some more detailed instruction, check out this very fine video tutorial.

Boygasmo1 year ago

You could use a stem tape, or use colored duct tape to hide the wiring.

ohhmyhead (author)  Boygasmo1 year ago

Great idea. Since I like the twisted up wires look myself, I've also toyed with weaving them in with some other colored threads.