Korean Character Paper Luminaries


Introduction: Korean Character Paper Luminaries

About: I like pie. {and beer...but not necessarily together.}

Friends of mine are adopting a Korean boy and I made these luminaries as an accent for the baby shower. I thought it was a great twist on the traditional variety. You can easily substitute any character or design and personalize them.

Step 1: Prepare Lunch Bags

Cut the top off of a standard lunch bag. I just cut enough off to square ot off and give it a clean edge.

Step 2: Layout the Bags

Here I used a pen and square to mark out where I wanted the holes to be. I marked in 3/4" from the sides and about 4-1/2" tall. I made sure that there was about an 1-3/4" to 2" from the top of the bag.

Step 3: Cut the Holes

Here I used an X-acto knife and a straight edge to cut along the lines I just made. Keep in mind that how these bags are folded, you are also removing material from the sides of the bag as well.

Step 4: Prepare New Paper Windows

Using the Internet and Adobe Illustrator, I found the characters I was looking for (joy, luck, etc.). I imported them into Illustrator, put them in a box and scaled them to size. I also created the side windows as well. I broceeded to cut them out as well. I made the boxes roughly 1/8" to 1/4" larger than the openings that I just cut in the bags. (Looking back on it, I should have given myself a little more overlap for the glue to affix to. Later in the evening, some of the sides seperated.)

Step 5: Adding the Windows

Using a glue stick, I applied glue around the edge of the window and then lined up my new windows pressing them into place.

Step 6: Last Window

I saved a large window for last. Because it's now really tight to get your hand in there to make sure you're applying glue in the right place, I flipped the bag over and ran the glue along the edge while holding my finger on top the bag. (For the sake of the camera shot, I'm showing you with one hand. I held the glue stick with my left and used my right finger to apply pressure to the bag.)

Step 7: Adding the Characters

Just make sure that you align them properly. I didn't want any of the characters to be upside down!

Step 8: Almost Completed

Here's one almost finished. Five more to go.

Step 9: Get Ready to Light

I used standard tea lights and put about two to three cups of play sand in the pottom of the bags.

Step 10: Finished!

Completed Luminarie!



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    16 Discussions


    5 years ago

    I'm one of Korean
    Thanks to your interest in Korean culture!
    행복 mean

    These are the coolest! I Love all kinds of luminarias and I really like these. Wonderful!

    Agreed. I have relatives in Korea and have been there a number of times. I've seen lanterns on a good number of occasions, especially when traveling outside of the big cities. Very thoughtful KeepYourFork.

    These really are pretty cool-looking, but it's also really easy to make all sorts of luminarias with white paper lunch bags and your printer. No cutting, only printing. Maybe I'll post an instructable on it if I can find my camera.

    idea is good.. except that there are no such thing in korean culture. it's a mashup of ur generic stereotypical idea of .. east asian culture. ...just my two cents but it only shows the parents didn't research much about korea, and although the thought is recognized, the action is.. unintentionally showing ignorance. paper illuminaries.. are so rare in korea, and it's not so mainstream tradition as in china.

    2 replies

    I hear where bes is coming from - no one object can substitute a cultural upbringing and New Orientalism is marketed by Pottery Barn to well-meaning yuppies (feng shui'd zen Asian kitchen!). I also think it's weird that it's so trendy to adopt overseas while there are plenty of kids of all ethnicities in our foster homes (not bagging, merely an observation). That said, there's no need to place expectations on the lantern beyond its decorative purpose; it won't and shouldn't singlehandedly represent Korea to this kid. For the record, I do get annoyed when I see the plethora of Asian character tats on people (including Asians)... it's even worse when they're incorrectly written. So do your research - nothing more embarassing than having someone point out that your butt or lamp says "monkey dung apple head" and not "holy eternal serenity". P.S. Congratulations on the adoption!

    Isn't that typical of Americans? How SILLY! [Just for the record...I work in the US for a Korean company and yes, I did my research...and thank you for peeing on my first post.]

    I can't believe you're saying lanterns seem pretty important in Korean culture just because lanterns are widely used in Buddhist culture, inside Korea. You can't judge a popularity of a medium inside a country by stating sources that are showing: 1) pictures of lanterns inside buddhist temples in, what seems to be china and Korea. 2) description of Korean Budhism. You are missing the link which states Buddism is mainstream and is the very string that ties up the culture fabric of Korea. Of course, that is false. You are getting this picture because our neighboring countries have been deeply acquainted with Buddhism, and still are. China's culture has Buddhism very attached to their popular culture, and as is Japan. Still, only China has paper luminaries. Thing is, it's just that we don't hang it outside streets and all, like China do in many of its streets. Sure, if you go to Buddhist temples you'll see them, but I'm stating that paper luminaries aren't the stereotypical thing that represents Korea. It's presence in the concensus culture proportion of Korea is low. And to put that up to celebrate the adoption of a Korean? To show Korean heritage? HAVE YOU EVEN BEEN TO KOREA? I honestly honor the fact that you are going to adopt a Korean boy. I really do. It takes a lot of compassion to adopt a person, a children and raise it as one's own. The child's heritage will be erased as time goes by, no doubt about it, and I have nothing against it. He'll grow to become one Korean American, and I wish the best for the kid and his/her parents. May the child be blessed in all things good. But to give him or her the wrong rendition of their heritage, I think that is immoral. Korea is an awesome place, and it's a place where rapid changes are made. The old tradition - those you are familiar with by seeing any movies that depict asia - are changing to meet new times and the new tradition are culminating together, much like any cultures in highly developed ciities. ..and paper luminaries aren't representative of the tradition of Korea. Rather, put a flag.

    2 replies

    For God sake bes, get over yourself, its only a bloody paper lantern (and a really nice one at that) not a political statement.

    "But to give him or her the wrong rendition of their heritage, I think that is immoral...Rather, put a flag" I disagree. What you say about luminaries may be true, but how is an old flag any better at depicting the "new heritage and new tradition". A flag is just another symbol, like a luminary. Most flags are steeped in stereotypes and ancient history and do not reflect modern times. Unfortunately, the "new tradition" is rather dreary stuff that doesn't exactly reflect national heritage. If you want to reflect modern tradition then don't put luminaries or a flag. Rather, put up a Hyundai billboard. (And don't tell me you don't see THOSE on the streets of Korea). It will be a great reflection of the modern Korean culture. But be sure to use Korean alphabet characters, as English would be "immoral". We don't want this poor kid to get the wrong idea about his native country.

    whoops.. the "ditto" was to trebuchet's first comment, not lovebes'. One day I'll work out how Instructables orders comments.

    Ditto.. I'm just a sucker for the aesthetic of paper lanterns, regardless of cultural relevance. I'd probably reinforce the top with some wire or something to stop it collapsing if pushed- I've accidentally set paper bags on fire from the inside and it is no fun to deal with.

    My name looks boring in Korean characters, otherwise I'd be tempted to make one.

    Is there any danger to the bag catching fire? If so, another idea may be LEDs. You could cut the top of and put a light wireframe inside the bag (to hold it up); then you could attach a string and hang it from the ceiling. I think I may do this in my bedroom. Very nice project.

    1 reply

    No, they shouldn't. I've been using luminaries in the winter for years. If you put too big of a candle in them, there is more of a danger, but there isn't with the tea lights. I push them down into the sand.

    Nice work.... Baby Showers, Weddings, etc. etc. get the coolest visual enhancer thingies :P