Mother Earth Living

Try This: Papier Mache Ghostly Lanterns

Guide trick or treaters and other friendly spirits to your front door this Halloween with these easy-to-make papier mache ghostly lanterns.
By Ken Hoyt
September/October 2010
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Mix glue with water in misting bottle. Inflate and tie balloon and tape securely to top of the candlestick. Use a paint can to elevate balloon 24 inches or more.
Photography By Thomas Gibson

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Guide trick or treaters and other friendly spirits to your front door with these easy-to-make papier mache ghostly lanterns.

Why not make a spooky lantern to match each member of your family? To begin, you can vary the size of the balloons and the amount of air in them. Add paper cutout accessories such as noses, jewelry or bowties for a personal touch.

You will need (per lantern) 

2 tablespoons Elmer’s    all-purpose glue
1 3/4 cup water
Misting bottle
9-inch round balloon
Packing tape
Paint can or other recycled container for base
8 sheets recycled or repurposed white tissue paper (20-inch squares)
1 sheet black tissue paper or napkin
Pen or needle
Twine or string (18 inches or longer)
Small LED candle


1. Mix glue with water in misting bottle. Inflate and tie balloon and tape securely to top of the candlestick. Use a paint can to elevate balloon 24 inches or more.

2. Set aside 3 full sheets tissue paper. Fold 5 remaining sheets in half, crease well and tear them in half lengthwise. Set aside 4 half sheets. Fold the remaining 6 half sheets on the diagonal, crease and cut them into 12 long, irregular triangles.

3. Lay one full sheet on the top of balloon and mist to saturate. Extend length with two half sheets carefully overlapping original full sheet. Don’t worry about wrinkles and folds. Gently saturate and press until flat.

4. Repeat step 3, laying a full sheet on top and adding half sheets to the side to fully cover balloon.

5. Attach triangles to balloon’s base with long points facing down. Mist to saturate after each triangle, continuing around base. Use all triangles to create a ragged effect at the bottom.

6. Cut 3 ovals from black tissue or napkin and affix as eyes and mouth. Mist to set in place. Dry lantern in a warm place overnight.

7. Once pâpier maché is dry to the touch, use pen or needle to gently pierce and pop the balloon. Peel away from the paper and discard. Make a loop with one end of string. Make a very small hole in the top of the lantern and pass the string through. Tie or tape LED light to the end of string. Gently pull string through hole until LED light is centered in the lantern and put a discreet piece of tape across the string to keep light in place.

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