Every year in Taiwan, people hold a festival called the lantern festival. We go up to the mountains and write wishes for things like love, safety, and academic success in ink calligraphy on giant paper lanterns. Then the lanterns are lit from the bottom and sent into the heavens. These are called 天燈 (Tian Deng), or 'sky lanterns'. It is believed that by floating these lanterns to the sky, it brings our wishes closer to the gods who may grant them for us. If you're ever in Taiwan I recommend heading up to PingXi village to light real lanterns!
In an attempt to recreate this romantic tradition, these necklaces with lantern charms can be made and worn. Instead of sending your wishes to the sky, perhaps you can keep them around your neck to remind you and keep you motivated! These also make wonderful and meaningful gifts ;)
Step 1: Lantern Charm Materials
- Plaster of Paris
- Mixing container, and a disposable mixing tool (I used chopsticks)
- Measuring spoon
- Cold water
- Sharp knife
- A diamond or gem silicone mold (I got mine at Michael's for $3)
Step 2: *Safety*
Remember that Plaster of Paris contains some unfriendly chemicals, so be better safe and sorry and wear eye safety and gloves.
Be sure to work in a well ventilated room, and avoid eye and skin contact.
Step 3: Mix Your Plaster
Follow the instructions per your brand of plaster; I went with 2 parts plaster to one part water. Mix as much as you need, for as many lanterns you want to make. Mix this until it's smooth and evenly combined.
Step 4: Prep Your Mold, and Cast
To prep your gem mold, simply wet a paper towel and dampen the inside of the mold.
Pour the mixed plaster into the mold, and smooth it over. Tap it on a surface to release any air bubbles.
Let it sit for about 1 hour and remove from the mold. Then let it sit overnight to fully dry.
Step 5: Make the Lantern Shape
You'll need a sharp knife (I used a small ceramic one), sandpaper, and maybe a reference picture on your computer. All of these instructions will vary based on the shape of your mold.
Plaster is pretty easy to shave off, I simply chiseled the lantern shape out of the diamond shape.
Cut off the sides, and the pointed bottom. It's optional, but make the sides more narrow, to achieve the lantern shape
Use sandpaper to smooth the new surface over
Photo credit to Huaguohotel.com
Step 6: Paint/ Finish
Paint the lanterns whatever color you want, most paints will work on plaster, though water based paints may need more than one coat.
I colored one lantern gold and the other a sunset gradient (yellow, orange, and pink)
Step 7: Write Wishes
- Liquid eyeliner or a fine sharpie
- Clear nail polish
Usually, people write a whole string of words and various Chinese idioms about health and happiness. However, the size of our lanterns is a bit too small to fit more than 1 character.
Here are some traditional Chinese characters you can choose from and what they mean:
愛 (Ài)- Love
安 (Ān)- Safety, security, calm
福 (fú)- Luck, good fortune, blessings
財 (cái)- Wealth, fortune, riches
美 (měi)- Beauty
Write the character very carefully, imitating calligraphy strokes. Then, seal the whole lantern with a coat of clear nail polish or lacquer.
Step 8: Add the Eyelet
Normally, one should slip an eyelet hook into the mold while it is casting, you can certainly do this if you have a 3-dimensional mold. However, I used a half mold and therefore I must glue an eyelet on myself with industrial glue.
All I had on hand were jump rings, so I cut them in half and glued them on top of the lantern with E6000
To keep the lantern absolutely flat while the glue was drying, I stuck the base in some air dry clay, which I knew I could remove later. You can also sandwich the charm between 2 books or other items.
I can assure you that gluing the eyelet is still a secure way to go (in the weeks I have worn mine, it is still fine)!
Step 9: Add the Necklace
To add the lantern to a necklace chain, you'll need:
- 2 jump rings
- necklace chain
- yarn or string
- necklace clasp
-To figure out how much chain we'll need, first use a piece of yarn or string to measure out the length of your neck, and how long you want the necklace to hang
-Take the yarn and use it to measure out a length of chain. Use a wire cutter or sharp scissors to cut the chain
-Use pliers to open the jump rings and attach them to each end of the chain. Use the pliers again to close one end up securely and tightly, twisting it closed. On the other end, attach a necklace clasp before twisting it closed like the first end.
Step 10: Congrats on Your New Necklace!
It's a beautiful piece that you created yourself, and will have some significance for you!
I chose the word 安 and 福 to represent safety and good luck for whoever the wearer may be.
Thank you for your interest in my instructable, have a good day!