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Craft Tutorial: Photo Lanterns

Ready for a fun project? This is one of those craft tutorials that you can imagine doing because it’s fun and festive but also practical and timely with warmer days here. The uber creative Livy Kanaley from a new favorite blog of mine, A Field Journal, is visiting us to share a craft tutorial — how to make a festive photo lantern with battery operated tea lights. I love sharing random projects like this from time to time on decor8 especially with so many looking for projects that are affordable and not overly time consuming. This project is creative, easy, and something you can actually use. Imagine these lanterns on your patio or even at a wedding… lovely!

Ready to learn how to make these? Livy, the stage is yours!

“These lanterns are adaptable to any occasion and perfect for the warm weather that’s just around the corner. The photos you select can be anything – old family snapshots would be of interest at a reunion for example, or you could play it simple and just use text – a favorite quote, a significant date, or a festive message.” -Livy


  • Store bought lanterns (glass votives are an alternative)
  • Spray adhesive (suitable for paper and glass)
  • Vellum
  • Digital images
  • Printer
  • Battery operated tea lights
  • Scissors/Paper cutter


  1. Step #1: Carefully remove glass from store bought lanterns. (You may want to wear gloves.) Alternatively, cylindrical glass votives could be used, just be sure that whatever vessel you select has straight sides so the vellum will adhere smoothly.
  2. Step #2: Measure the surface to be covered, and print appropriately sized images on 8.5 x 11 sheets of vellum.
  3. Step #3: Using scissors or a paper cutter, cut out each image. Coat glass with spray adhesive and immediately apply vellum. Let dry.
  4. Step #4: Replace glass in lanterns, add a battery operated tea light and enjoy!

I hope that you enjoy creating your very own Springtime lanterns… I definitely want to try this project myself! If you end up making your own and have photos to share, please send me ONE photo so I can check it out — maybe I’ll feature it on decor8. :) I love a little show ‘n tell time!

Important safety note: Remember everyone – use only BATTERY OPERATED TEA LIGHTS. I don’t want anyone to burn down their yard or home.

(images from Olivia Kanaley)

Posted by decor8 in uncategorized on April 01, 2009

Your comments...

  1. George commented
    October 30th, 2009 at 6:50am

    Fantastic, I’m going to try to make a few of these for Halloween tomorrow and hang them around our dining table for dinner. It should be wonderful seeing our family photos lit up while we eat!

    Thank you for the instructions.

  2. Jen commented
    November 20th, 2009 at 4:12pm

    These are an awesome idea! Thanks so much for sharing. What a creative way to use battery operated lights.

    I think I’m going to make some to hang around our hot tub, that would look really great! All we have right now are some solar lights at ground level, but these will look fantastic hanging from the pergola.

  3. Kristi commented
    March 26th, 2010 at 1:17am

    This is a Martha Stewart idea. She actually makes the lanterns out of picture frames though. She had great pictures of lanterns down a table at a birthday celebration. The photos were all of the birthday girl at different points in her life. So cute.

  4. Tina George commented
    July 23rd, 2010 at 9:28am

    I love this idea! Because we are outside at night all year round, I’m thinking of putting seasonal pics of my grandchildren in mine. I can’t wait to make them!

  5. Michelle commented
    July 23rd, 2010 at 11:42am

    What a wonderful idea! I love using vellum, & this is yet another amazing way that it can be used beautifully. Thank-you! :D

  6. Simon commented
    August 3rd, 2010 at 10:29pm

    What a nice craft , I am going to try it , Hope i get oll the materials.

  7. Henway commented
    September 20th, 2010 at 2:24am

    I think Martha Stewart shared this idea a while ago, anyway I just tried making these with my children today.. we had a heck of a time, thanks a lot for such great craft ideas!
    Henway´s last blog post ..My Colon Cleanse Experience

  8. Prestiti commented
    November 28th, 2010 at 6:24pm

    It ‘s great! For those who live in the countryside is beautiful!
    Prestiti´s last blog post ..Finanziamenti Alfa Romeo

  9. Kristen commented
    July 11th, 2011 at 8:45pm

    When doing step 3:
    Step #3: Using scissors or a paper cutter, cut out each image. Coat glass with spray adhesive and immediately apply vellum. Let dry.

    Do you apply the spray adhesive to the front or back side of the glass?! I was thinking the back side so the photo is protected by the glass but I just wanted to get your feedback! Thanks! :)

  10. Ashley commented
    August 28th, 2011 at 2:31am

    Hi! This is a great idea but where do you get the store bought lanterns? I cannot find any!

  11. Jenny commented
    March 1st, 2012 at 8:42pm

    How adorable!
    Jenny´s last blog post ..DIY Homemade iPad Sleeve Carrying Pouch

  12. Noue commented
    January 19th, 2013 at 12:29pm

    where could i find cute lanterns like that? any suggestions ?

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