Picture of Papercraft LED Lantern
I read various design blogs on a daily basis, seeking inspiration for my next project.  On one such day, I came upon the work of Yoshinobu Miyamoto, an architect and skilled papercraft artist from Japan.  Please take a moment to check out his fantastic designs.

Many of his papercraft polyhedra are illuminated, as you can see in the flickr set I linked to.  I decided to replicate and illuminate one of his designs, the "Tri-Star Fruit."

My Papercraft Lantern utilizes surface mount LEDs for illumination, and flexible self-adhesive copper foil as conductors.  A single 9V battery provides power, for an estimated run time of about 40 hours.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools
Illustrator in progress.png

Three sheets of 8.5 x 11" card stock (Or get fancy with patterned or textured paper)
Glue (glue stick or white glue)
Copper foil tape (used for stained glass)
Some clear tape (packing tape or Scotch tape)
3 LEDs (I used Digikey p/n 475-2542-1-ND)
A 9V battery clip
One 9V battery


Computer (I assume you've got one of those already!)
A printer (laser is preferable)
A soldering iron
A good, sharp knife with fresh blades (X-acto will work fine)
Wire stripper and other soldering hand tools

LW_T673_Pb_free.pdf(595x842) 622 KB
pdr19806 months ago
malialtin4 years ago
Very nice instructable!!! Very inspiring!!
Hi, bravo! welldone...that's really amazing...thank u
jeff-o (author)  tala9101850104 years ago
mohsen_sam4 years ago
very Beautiful
jeff-o (author)  mohsen_sam4 years ago
Thank you!
RPKH4 years ago
This is a bad design.
The Led must have a resistor in series to limit the current.
jeff-o (author)  RPKH4 years ago
Ordinarily I'd agree with you. But in this case, with the forward voltage of the LEDs equal to the battery, there is no need. Perhaps a few ohms of resistance - but that's taken care of by the resistance of the copper foil, and the internal resistance of the 9V battery.

I left the lantern running for a full day and nothing blew up, so I'd say it's quite safe.

Thanks for calling me on it, though!
RPKH jeff-o4 years ago
The forward voltage of the led is 3 V. If you put 3 led in series it would be more less equal to the battery. Indeed the copper foil and battery have a resistance.
But for other people trying to make this project using other leds with different forward voltages should check how to connect a led properly.
jeff-o (author)  RPKH4 years ago
Definitely. Beginners should check out this excellent online LED calculator. You simply enter your power supply, number of LEDs and LED voltage, and it does the rest - even drawing a neat little diagram!

(The above calculator says I need a 1 ohm resistor)
octochan4 years ago
This totally looks like a ribcage! All it needs is something to suggest a spine, and maybe the collarbones and shoulder blades!
jeff-o (author)  octochan4 years ago
I'm sure I've seen a Halloween decoration made like that before. Can't find anything on Google, though.
gbrad4 years ago
ever thought of spray painting it a metallic color? don't know the electrical implications or hazards involved.... but probably not too hard to work around.
jeff-o (author)  gbrad4 years ago
Well sure, you could spray paint it any colour you like. I doubt that it would make much difference electrically. Of course, you'd want to spary it before laying down the traces.
Crucio4 years ago
I really like it.

Reminds me of Star Trek, somehow ...
jeff-o (author)  Crucio4 years ago
Hey, to me, that's a big compliment! ;)
pda0413764 years ago
You can also do the scoring with the "backside" of the X-acto blade. It works wonders.
mary candy4 years ago
jeff-o (author)  mary candy4 years ago
Wow, very nice! Cheaper, yes - but also not made of brushed laser-cut aluminum. ;)

(As a side note, it should be possible to make that design in the link out of paper...)
Cool ;)
marc_page4 years ago
Wow, this is really amazing !

Did anybody manage to find printable designs for which this method could be adapted ?
jeff-o (author)  marc_page4 years ago
I looked around a bit but found nothing (at least not from the creator of the original design I based my lantern on). I had to design my own pattern.
Zpr884 years ago
thanks for sharing this awesome project...

i planned to buy a lamp shade this month but after going through your instructables i changed my mind. instead, ill be building this project this week end...

are there any other designs available on line?...

thanks! more power!!!
jeff-o (author)  Zpr884 years ago
Sure, give it a try! The paper costs less than a dollar so you've got nothing to lose, even if it doesn't end up working.

I searched a bit for design files and templates, but couldn't find any. So, I made my own. If you visit the links you'll find a Flickr set of all of Miyamoto's creations - perhaps you could figure out how to recreate of of them!
ChrysN4 years ago
It looks gorgeous!
NachoMahma4 years ago
. Wow!
jeff-o (author)  NachoMahma4 years ago
So, are you going to make one, too? ;)
.  Probably not. :(  I have next to no artistic ability.
jeff-o (author)  NachoMahma4 years ago
Hey, that part has been taken care of! If you can handle an X-acto knife and a soldering iron, you can do it. :)
SWV17874 years ago
I really like the "Rib Cage" look of the shade
Szajba4 years ago
simple and beautiful. Congrats
jeff-o (author)  Szajba4 years ago
My top two goals for this creation. ;) Thanks!
capricorn4 years ago
You Sir, be awesome.

Thank you for sharing this :)
jeff-o (author)  capricorn4 years ago
Thanks, and you're welcome!
imrobot4 years ago
creepy cool! the lamp is reminiscent of a rib cage and the shadows look like spider webs. You should enter this into the Halloween contest!
jeff-o (author)  imrobot4 years ago
Hmmm, I'm not sure it would qualify. Perhaps with some modifications it could... I'll think about it!
Ninzerbean4 years ago