Thursday, January 21, 2010

Making a "Tin" Lantern

I have always loved this tin lantern illustration by Garth Williams in one of my favorite books, "Farmer Boy" by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Almanzo and Royal Wilder were not allowed to have a regular lantern in the barn like Father when they did their chores. They used a tin lantern like the one in the beautiful illustration below.

To make your own lantern you need an empty can, a rubber mallet, and an awl, or some other piercing tool. The night before you make your lantern, fill the clean can with water and freeze it. I left a little space at the top for expansion, but the ice expanded toward the bottom, making a bulge. I fixed it later.

Pierce the can with the awl, making a simple pattern all over the can, using a vise or your knees to keep the can steady. Don't let the holes get too close together, or they will open up into one another. Don't try to pierce the can in places where there is no ice. The can will bend. Also, be very careful not to grip the can on the inside. The holes are very, very sharp on the inside, as I soon learned!

Once I was finished, I went to look for band aids (!) while I melted the ice with warm water. After the ice was gone, I pounded out the bulge on the bottom of the can with a hammer. Now add a tea light and you are ready to light your lantern.

I made one of these lanterns long ago when I was a girl, and topped it with an inverted tin funnel. I haven't been able to find one in my local shops yet, but maybe you'll be lucky. Even without the funnel, it is a beautiful lantern and sheds a wonderful speckled light.


Anonymous said...

This is SOOOO cool, Beth! I can't wait to make a tin lantern!! K goes outside to feed her bunnies every night and always takes a lantern... we can make her her very own... how very wonderful!!!
Blessings and magic.

The Magic Onions said...

So cool, Beth... can't wait to make one for K to take to feed her bunnies supper.
Blessing and magic.
(my first comment disappeared... sorry if I've left two ;-)

Beth said...

The idea of a little child taking a lantern to feed her bunnies is very sweet. How special that must be for K. love, Beth

gardenmama said...

we have made these for our lantern walks, i am seeking such lovely light for these cold gray winter days thank you for this beautiful post!

Beth said...

Dear Nicole,

I, too, am seeking more light. Today I was at the playground, basking in a spot of sun, for a few extra minutes. The days ARE getting longer. love, Beth

Linda said...

Beth, these lanterns are so beautiful, I love how the light shines out from them in pretty designs in the darkness:)

Anonymous said...

What a simple and fanstic idea!. I can't wait to get started making some for my girls. It will keep them busy over the holidays.

softearthart said...

Just great, the light shines out into the world. The story looks cool too. cheers Marie

Beth said...

Thanks everyone, I hope you will all be speckling the darkness of winter with your own lantern very soon. love, Beth