Craft Tutorial: Photo Lanterns

April 1, 2009

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!

Craft Tutorial: Photo LanternsCraft Tutorial: Photo Lanterns

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

Craft Tutorial: Photo Lanterns Instructions:

  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!

Craft Tutorial: Photo Lanterns

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)


  • Reply George October 30, 2009 at 6:50 am

    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.

  • Reply Jen November 20, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    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.

  • Reply Kristi March 26, 2010 at 1:17 am

    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.

  • Reply Tina George July 23, 2010 at 9:28 am

    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!

  • Reply Michelle July 23, 2010 at 11:42 am

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

  • Reply Simon August 3, 2010 at 10:29 pm

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

  • Reply Henway September 20, 2010 at 2:24 am

    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!

  • Reply Prestiti November 28, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    It ‘s great! For those who live in the countryside is beautiful!

  • Reply Kristen July 11, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    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! :)

  • Reply Ashley August 28, 2011 at 2:31 am

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

  • Reply Jenny March 1, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    How adorable!

  • Reply Noue January 19, 2013 at 12:29 pm

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

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