Light up the gloaming of a cool spring evening with little paper lanterns from Dirge! All you will need is card stock, vellum or tissue paper, craft glue or double-sided tape, scissors, a ruler, a craft knife, and our free pattern, which you can download here for free.

Open the pattern and print it on 8.5” X 11” paper or card stock to create a template. Cut out each template along the solid outer lines. In the center of the pattern pieces, I have given you ideas for different designs. If you decide to use them, you will have to be careful to cut them so that they are contiguous with the edges. You don’t want your inner motifs to fall out of the frame!

Because I wanted lanterns with different centers than those drawn on the pattern, I went ahead and cut out the center of each panel. After you cut along the solid lines, use a ruler and scissors to score the pattern along the dotted lines. My final templates looked like this:

Decide which lantern you want to make first and place the pattern piece on black or dark grey card stock. For the tall lantern, you will need to cut at least TWO pieces, which will give you FOUR side panels. For the shorter lantern, you will need to cut at least THREE pieces. For both lanterns, you can increase their size by adding additional pieces. Six-sided lanterns are especially lovely!

The Tall Lantern

In the image above, you can see that I used a white colored pencil to trace around the pattern. I also transferred the fold lines onto the card stock. This is easily done by folding back the paper pattern along the dotted lines and using a ruler to mark the card stock.

With all of your lines drawn, you can let your imagination run wild. I opted for trees and pentagrams, but you could also draw alchemical symbols, occult sigils, planchettes, thorny vines—any old thing! Whatever you draw, be sure that the edges of your design are in contact with the frame’s edge so that you don’t lose pieces when you cut it out. Also be sure to leave one panel open completely. You will need one side open so that you can drop your flameless LED tealight into the lantern.

Using a craft knife and wearing glasses or goggles—I’m not kidding! Blades snap really easily and go flying and you need your eyeballs to read Dirge!—cut out the center design. When cutting along curves and tight corners, it’s easier to turn the card stock than to try to turn the knife. It’s awkward at first, but in a few minutes you’ll be a pro.

With the center designs finished, go ahead and cut vellum or tissue paper to fit behind the three little windows. Adhere the vellum to the inside of the lantern with tape or glue and let dry if necessary. Remember to leave the fourth window open for the flameless tealight.

Now you can gently score the fold lines with scissors. Bend the folds inward until they are crisp. Apply glue or double-sided tape to the side tab and secure it to the inside of the second piece. Fold the bottom tabs so that they are perpendicular to the side panels and fasten the last remaining side. You should have a little box that is open at the top. Apply glue to the tabs along the lantern’s roof and join them together, forming a perfect point. (Make sure the tabs are glued to the underside of the adjoining piece!) Add your LED tealight into the back, and you are done!

Here is the finished tall lantern. Remember, you can always add moss!

Pro Tip: Make a simple lantern out of plain paper first. Once you do, you’ll see that it’s WAY easier than the directions here make it seem.

The Shorter Lantern

The shorter lantern is even easier than the tall one. The directions are mostly the same in terms of tracing the pattern, cutting the inner design, and adding the vellum. For this lantern, you will simply glue the side tab to the adjoining piece, adding as many panels as you would like. I made two versions, the first of which has three sides and the second of which has four.
In the first version, I have simply curled the tips of each panel inward to create a tulip effect. The bottom is open, so you can go ahead and slip the flameless candle inside. Voila!

In the second version, I brought all four tips to the center, curled them downward, and fastened them with glue. I then added little paper bats because I could. More bats is always more bats.

Just another reminder. Do not expose these paper lanterns to open flame, Dirgelings! Use only battery operated tealights like the one below.

The pattern I have included here is very simple and easy to modify. Play with shapes and patterns, modify the number of panels, experiment with different motifs and colored vellum–let your imagination run free! For only a few dollars you can fill a room or a patio with lovely lanterns, flickering in the night.

For clay and glass versions of these lanterns, see Dear Darkling.

Blessed Spring and Happy Crafting, Dear Dirgelings!

Brenda S G Walter

Brenda S G Walter

By day, Brenda poisons young minds as a college professor.  When she is not teaching classes such as Science and the Supernatural, she is writing about monsters, witchcraft, horror films, heavy metal, and gothic culture.  She might also be drawing apocalyptic landscapes or haunted houses while watching Creature Double Feature.  You can find her on Facebook and Instagram as Elderdark Nightmoth.
Brenda S G Walter