Introduction: How to 'Steampunk' a Dollar Store Lantern for Under $10

About: Life 2.95 achieved! Former teacher and college instructor currently enjoying my workshop, outdoor cooking, traveling and camping, woodworking, rebuilding small vintage campers, steampunk crafts and mods, and f…

How to Steampunk a Dollar Store Lantern for Under $10.

This Instructable includes an introduction, a suggested materials list, a few instructions and suggestions and pictures of my 'steampunked' camp lantern. I have taken a 99 cent craft lantern and reconstructed it in a steampunk fashion. I made use of materials available in my shop with the commitment to keeping my total cost under $10. Since my re-purposed materials will likely be different than what others may have available, this instructable serves more as an inspiration than as a step by step description.

My total out of pocket cost was $5.10



Why Steampunk? Steampunk design, art and the use of industrial materials hold my fascination. Since completing (sort of) my teardrop camper and just recently ‘punking’ it, I have created a list of modifications and accessories that I will add this year to the trailer to complete the steampunk makeover. So why? Because I want to and there is a whole lot of creative fun in doing so. I am beginning with reconstructing a craft store lantern into a steampunked camping lantern for my teardrop trailer.

Step 1: ​Suggested Materials

Suggested Materials

  • A lantern for repurposing (metal base and metal top, perhaps an old camping or train lantern or something from the local dollar store, thrift shop or craft supplier)
  • Copper or brass paint
  • Spray lacquer (exterior)
  • Copper pipe and copper connectors and standoffs (the latter from Lowes)
  • Cabinet door pulls, broken pressure gauges
  • Misc. fasteners and hardware from your coffee cans that store stuff
  • L.E.D. puck light
  • Aluminum foil

Step 2: Purchase, Preparation and Painting

1. I bought the lantern from Value Village and paid 99 cents. Next, prepare the lantern by stripping it of unwanted metal and glass parts. It is probably easier to start with a minimal container and add to it rather than work around within the initial confinement of a finished product. Start simple and then modify it.

2. Roughen up the surface to accept a coat of paint or be prepared to use a metal primer. Many spray paint brands today include built in primers.

3. Mask off any glass before painting the basic container. I applied 2 coats of an exterior spray paint and then a top coat of exterior lacquer.

Step 3: Attaching Metal Adornments

4. Be creative with attaching bits and pieces of metallic adornment. Try using copper pipe, just the tap from an outdoor shutoff, a key, a fob, small lengths of chain and broken pressure gauges. Be equally creative with the fastening methods. Try adding washers, thumb screws, stainless fasteners and copper wire.

5. Of course a lantern needs a handle. Copper wire or a clothes hanger should work.

Step 4: Add the Light Source

6. For the light source I decided to use a L.E.D puck light. Inexpensive, safe (no wiring) and easy to insert. I found one with a magnet in the base so it does not slide around inside the lantern. And for under $4.

7. Consider adding a mirror (or foil) to the underside of the lantern housing top to reflect the light from the LED. I used foil. Now just hang it up and you are good to go!

Other instructables that I have posted with similar creative licence can be reviewed here.

Gypsy Wagon Construction

How to Steampunk a Tiny Teardrop Trailer

How to Steampunk Decorate an Electrical Wall Plate Cover

Before and After Contest 2016

Participated in the
Before and After Contest 2016