The art of making string lanterns or string lighting is not my original idea. I found this example on the Internet and used their basic directions to make the string globe lights you see pictured above. There were some areas of the instructions I didn't understand, so I tweaked the materials and steps involved in order to get the process to work for me.
Hopefully, the following tutorial is beneficial to you. I've tried to make it as thorough as possible. Be forewarned, making string lanterns or string lighting is not rocket science and it's certainly not an expensive project, but IT IS MESSY! lol So, dress accordingly and do this project either outside or in a craft area where you can spread a tarp on the floor.
You will need:
- Sharpie pen or permanent marker
- Craft scissors
- Wrapping Twine (twisted cotton, marked for light load)
- approx 4 oz White school glue (dries clear)
- 1/2 cup Tapioca starch (found at grocers)
- approx 1/4 cup cold water
- Container to mix glue, starch & water
- Stir stick or chopsticks or tongs to mix and handle wet twine
- Disposable gloves (optional)
- Petroleum Jelly (Vaseline)
- Fast drying spray paint (I used Krylon or Rustoleum - whatever I had on hand)
- Christmas string lights or Hanging lamp cord from Ikea or Pier 1
- Tarp to place under project
- Blow up balloon and tie securely. Using permanent marker, draw a circle around the knot in balloon that is just large enough to accommodate whichever lighting method you've chosen. If using tiny Christmas lights, opening can be very small. Draw the circle approximately 2 1/4" in diameter (side to side measurement) if using a standard light bulb. Note: another option for these string lanterns is to use without lights and hang the string globes in groups as a sort of mobile. In this case, forget about leaving any openings during the construction process.
- Prepare work area by laying down tarp. You will need to hang the balloon from a hook or otherwise suspend it so all sides are not touching any areas. Cut twine at a comfortable working height for you and tie twine around knot in balloon.
- Mix starch, white glue and hot water in container until all lumps are removed. Consistency should be like a thick creamy soup. Tip: Add water to the dry ingredients slowly while stirring and adjust as needed.
- Put on disposable gloves if you don't like getting your hands messy. Smear Vaseline all over the balloon until all areas are coated.
- Begin feeding the twine a bit at a time through the wet mix and drape over the balloon. Tuck under the end pieces of the twine at start and finish. Be sure to follow the lines of the circle drawn in step 1. (Under the picture you'll see an explanation of why this is so important.) Continue wrapping vertically at first at a comfortable tightness and gradually switch to wrapping the twine horizontally.
In the picture above, you will see two string globes. Both have dried well enough and the balloons popped by themselves. The globe with the purple balloon was my first attempt at making these. See how I continued the twine at the top and it actually covers the knot? WHAT was I thinking?? Arrrgh! Don't do that! Be sure to follow the directions in step 1 above depending on how you'll be using these string lanterns when complete. Plan ahead.
Allow string lanterns to dry at least 24 hours until twine is completely rigid. If balloon has not popped, do this now and discard remnants. Use a chopstick or something similar to gently knock off any thin glue crystals that may have developed in between the twine.
Spray outdoors or in a well ventilated area in either a clear coat or color of choice. Use two light coats if necessary, not one heavy coat. Either way, I feel this step further strengthens the globe. Let dry well between coats.
Some of the materials involved in the process.
Just a section of my work area AFTER construction. Use as much or as little twine as desired to make these DIY string lanterns. You can also change the appearance by using smaller or larger balloons. Spraying a clear acrylic spray instead of adding color is another option.
It all depends on the look or style you're going for.
Christmas lights only require a tiny opening to insert.
Make the hanging string lantern above by first running the plug part of the lamp cord through the opening and continue on in a direct line and out one of the openings in the design, allowing the constructed opening to face downwards. This way it is easy to change lightbulbs when needed.
Anyway, above is the "teaser" pic I posted several weeks ago. I've been working on these string lanterns off and on since then. Finally, I felt like I had enough info and pics for a decent tutorial. I'm sure your construction process will go smoother than mine. Just be patient with the process and have fun with it. And, oh yeah, PLEASE show us your pics. It's always fun to see new versions of the "same thing". Have a wonderful weekend everyone!One last tip: DO NOT put all the twine at once into the mix and then drape over the balloon. Feed it through gradually as stated in step 5. Yes, I tried it both ways and regretted taking a "shortcut." Here's why....the cotton twine or yarn or whatever you use swells a bit when it gets wet and cramming it all in a bowl creates a bowlful of tangled twine. Arrrrrrrrrrrrrggh! So, don't do that either. LOL
Linking this project to the Weekend WrapUp Party at Tatertots and Jello, Funky Junk Interior's Saturday Night Special and The Sunday Showcase Party at Under the Table and Dreaming.