This step by step guide will walk you through the supplies needed and the steps to take to make your own floating lantern.
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Step 1: Materials
To make your own lantern you'll need the following items;
- A plastic bag
- 4 to 8 plastic straws
- A pair of scissors
- A hot glue gun
- Small birthday candles
- Aluminum foil
- A ruler or tape measure
- A lighter
- A marker
Step 2: Taking the First Measurements
In order to know how long your straws need to be you need to measure the width of your plastic bag in inches at the open end. Once you have this measurement, multiply your number by .7 and you should get the approximate length that your straws will need to be. For example, the width of my plastic bag was 22.5 inches. So I took 22.5 and multiplied it by .7 to get 15.75 inches. Now I know the total length of my straws will need to be around 15.75 inches.
Step 3: Building With Straws
Next, take two straws and if they have the bendy part cut that part off and you can discard it. Once you have discarded the bendy parts (if necessary) you need to cut a small slit through both sides of the straw. Next, take your second straw and connect the end of it to the slit in the other straw so that one half of the first straw is overlapping the second straw. Then you will take a small piece of tape and and wrap it around both straws, covering the slit rather tightly. After securing the straws, you will then measure the combined length of them to see if you need to extend the straws or shorten them. In my case, I needed to extend the straws. So I took a third straw (cut off the bendy part) and cut another small slit on one end of the straw. Then you will be able to connect the third straws to the end of the combined straws. After connecting the three straws, I got out my tape measurer and measured the total length of the combined straws. It measured in a bit over 15.75 so a cut off a small piece, first marking how much I needed to cut off with my marker. Again the total combined length of the straws should be the width of your bag multiplied by .7. Repeat this step so you are left with two long straws of the correct length.
Step 4: Connecting the Straws
Once you have your two long straws of the correct length, lay them out in front of you so they are crossing each other, forming a cross. Then, take a piece of tape and wrap it around the point where the straws intersect by lying the piece of tape sticky side up underneath the straws and folding the sides upward. Next, take another piece of tape and wrap it around that same point but folding it the opposite direction. You'll be left with the two straws connected, forming a cross.
Step 5: Building the Heat Source
*While you are prepping for this step, it would be a good idea to plug in your hot glue gun.* Cut a piece of aluminum foil measured to be 5 by 6 inches. Fold each side of foil in towards the center by one inch, I found it useful to mark where I was going to cut with a marker. Take the glue gun and apply a small dot of glue to the foil inside of the folded edges. *If you try to apply the glue to the candle it won't stick as well because the glue will melt the candle more quickly. You want the glue to be warm and not hot.* Then stick a candle in the glue and hold it if necessary until it dries. Repeat the glueing process until you have glued down all of your candles. *I used five candles if your bag is smaller i would recommend you use less candles and use more candles if you have a larger bag.*
Step 6: Attaching the Straws to the Heat Source
Once you have built both the straws and the heat source, you need to attach them. Lay the straws down on a flat surface and try to center the piece of foil on top of the straws as best you can. Lift up one side of the foil and apply a small amount of glue along the straw, under the foil. Then gently press down on the foil to secure the foil to the glue and straw. I would advise pressing down lighting to avoid getting burnt. Repeat this step so all four sides of the straws are connected to a part of the piece of foil.
Step 7: Attaching the Bag
Take a small piece of tape and the straws and lay the piece of tape sticky side up about halfway underneath the straw. Open up the plastic bag and take the half piece of tape not attached to the straws and stick it onto the inside of the bag. Repeat this step so all four straw ends are attached to the inside of the bag.
Step 8: Final Product
This is what your lantern should look like from the bottom when everything is attached to the bag, and your lantern is complete. You are now ready to start testing for flight.
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