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...

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.

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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

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Before and After Contest 2016



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    3 years ago

    It looks pretty good!!

    Well done;-))