Patio Lanterns: DIY doily projects for a sunny weekend

I’m having a blast with the new Jah Doily blog and find the short posts rather liberating. As much as I love analyzing and going into depth on things that I encounter it can sometimes become adherent to post item. Turning off my brain every now and then and just proclaiming “I like this” feels very freeing. However I have been also feeling a lack of creativity and struggling to come up with new projects.

It turns out the solution was rather simple.

I came across this fantastic Doily lamp a few weeks ago and a friend commented on Facebook that it would be easy to make. Rather quickly the idea settled in the back of my head, just out of conscienceness but lingering. Shortly after I posted a link to a DIY doily lantern project. Again I thought “I should make some” and the thought passed. Then, yesterday morning, I realized that in all my excitement over the Canuck’s game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals I had failed to procure a birthday gift for Lili (Happy Birthday Lili!). Things started to percolate. While I realized I didn’t have time to whip up a lamp, I could produce a lantern.

So off I went strolling down Main Street to hit up the thrift stores, followed by a short trip over to Micheal (they need more floor staff by the way, I found attempting to find things painful and gave up on fabric paint) and then to home depot for wallpaper adhesive. I was now set for my weekend projects.

The lantern was painfully easy. Take a clean jar (I used a pasta sauce jar) a couple doilies and some ribbon. Spray the back side of the doilies with spray adhesive and stick them on the jar. Tie ribbon about the top and drop a tea light inside. Booya! Lantern done.

For detailed instructions visit Crafts by Amanda. I was skeptical that the spray adhesive so I tested a couple other glues first which turned out to be a wast of time. The spray actually provided a secure hold without making a mess and dries quickly, can’t say any of that for any of the other glues I tested.

The next time I make these, and as soon as I track down some mason jars I will, the top will be different. I wasn’t supper happy with the ribbon but wanted to give a little nod to Brazil with this one. For the next ones I’ll try using twine along with ribbon and may even use ripped or stained doilies to soften the starkness of the white.

… now for the lamp!

The inspiration for the lamp came from reMade USA and the instructions are here at All About Bee. I made some changes that hopefully work out (the ball is still drying so the verdict won’t be in till tomorrow). In reMade’s version there are lots of empty spaces that make the bulb inside visible and in Bee’s ball the balloon stretches so the finished piece isn’t circular. I picked up a paper lantern to use as an inner structure to correct both these issues. Hopefully it will still cast those beautiful shadows and if they are a little softer that’s just fine by me.

I picked up two different types of lantern; I’m not sure how I’m going to attach or insert a light into the standard lantern so when I found one that came with a battery operated light – for only $2 – I grabbed it too.

This step backfired on me, I didn’t want the bulb to burst the balloon so I took it out & covered the mounting with painters tape to cover up any sharp edges. Can you see the problem I was about to run into?

Oh, see you are smarter than I was. The lantern needs to be collapsed to put the bulb in! If you choose to use one of these lanterns for your lamp just remember that you will need to leave the bulb in and toss the whole thing out when the bulb dies. Unless you have a child who can change the bulb for you, or you have really tiny hands.

Step 1: Insert balloon into lantern and blow up the balloon untill the lantern is tought, tie off the balloon.

A couple of tips before we go on. One: with a jiffy marker, make a small dot or cross in the center top of the opening of the lantern. This will help you line up the center of the doily so that the sides are even. Two: place the lantern in a bowl so that it doesn’t roll away from you and get past all over your surface.

Step 2: Apply a generous layer of wallpaper past to the top half of the lantern.

Step 3: Place your first doily over the top making sure that it is centered (I used one larger doily, if you are using multiples centering might not be a concern.) and smooth out the doily, starting at the center and gently pulling outwards. Those of you who knit or crochet will already know this but for the rest of you, the doily will stretch quite dramatically when wet, this pulling will help eliminate creases as well as maintain the pattern of the doily.

Step 4: Apply a thick layer of paste over the stretched doily. This should help make the finished surface nice and sturdy. I made sure that the area around the opening of the top was extra thick so that the threads don’t fray later on when the opening is cut.

Step 5: Rotate the sphere and repeat steps 2 through 4.

If you use a larger doily, as I did, you will find that the fabric at the bottom will get thick and overlapped. I tried a couple of strategies to work with this. Neatly folding to make one larger over lap and smaller gather’s on the other side. Esthetically the gather are more attractive but the thick layers tended to pull from the bottom rim of the lantern. If you have a method that provided you with a good result please let me now.

Step 5: Hang the ball and let it dry. This is the part I dislike, waiting.

As you can see from the photo, I did a balloon test with lace. I don’t think the lace will be strong enough to hold the globe shape but I’m curious to see if it will fray when cut. It  could be useful for some future projects … ah, that’s the creativity juices starting to thaw out!

Step 6: once the ball is nice and dry (I gave mine just shy of 24 hours) pop the balloon and cut away the doily that is covering the top opening. Leave a 1/4 to 1/2 inch extra so that you can fold it over and stitch or glue it to the inside, this will give a nice clean edge.

The bottom opening on mine turned out a little messy. The large doily left a lot of extra material which was difficult to deal with, and to cut away cleanly. I ended up cutting out a few small areas of excess material when I was trimming so that it wouldn’t be so bulky. I’m going to try stitching some beige piping around the edge. I haven’t done this yet so …. this is as “finished” as the lamp shade is, I did test it out with a tea light.


The real surprise was the lace test. It turned out great! The lace is still flexible but it holds the molded shape well. A set of doily dishes just might be in my future. What I’m most excited about is what I can do with process; the sculptural possibilities are intriguing and suspect that there are more weekend projects to follow.

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