Mother Earth Living

How to Make Beeswax Lanterns

Enjoy the warm glow radiating from your hand-crafted beeswax lantern.
By Leann Coleman and Jayne Barnes
August 2013
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This lantern is a particularly pleasant craft because it can be appreciated over and over again.
Photo By Fotolia/margo555

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Craft gorgeous beeswax lanterns with designs to suit your style. Enjoy it as your tablescaping focal piece or sitting beautifully on your mantle. This beeswax lantern how-to is from Honey Crafting (F+W Media, Inc., 2013), an instructional guide to making an array of artisanal crafts and beauty products from both beeswax and honey.

Buy this book in the Mother Earth Living store: Honey Crafting.

Beeswax Lanterns

Usually we think of a burning beeswax candle as a fleeting delight, to be enjoyed and marveled at until it has burned down to a nub. But there are ways to craft with beeswax so that you can enjoy its presence forever.

This lantern is a particularly pleasant craft because it can be appreciated over and over again. Of course, you won’t get the wonderful scent of beeswax when the lantern is lit—but you will have a warm glow that will cast intricate shadows against the walls.

Decorate the lantern with fall leaves for the perfect focal piece at the Thanksgiving table. Or cover it in seasonal flowers as a moving tribute to the pollen from which the beeswax came.

• Balloon(s)
• Water faucet
• Double boiler designated for wax melting (preferably stainless steel)
• 1 to 2 pounds beeswax, depending on the size of the lantern
• Wax or candy thermometer
• Optional: Pressed leaves, flowers, or tissue paper for decorating the side of the lantern
• Aluminum foil
• Flat pan

1. Begin by filling a balloon with water––this will serve as a form for your lantern. The size of your balloon will determine the size of your lantern. To ensure your balloon has a nice round shape, you may wish to blow up the balloon before filling it with water, to stretch out the sides and encourage the balloon to fill evenly.

2. Melt your beeswax using a double boiler––a small saucepan containing the beeswax, sitting inside a larger pan of water. Melting beeswax over direct heat is very dangerous, as hot beeswax is flammable and can ignite. Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature of your wax. Stainless steel pans are recommended because copper, brass, and iron can change the color of the wax, making it look dull.

3. When the wax has reached 150 to 160 degrees you are ready to begin dipping. Slowly dip your balloon with a slow and steady hand, immersing it for just a second. Remove it from the wax and allow it to dry, about 20 seconds. To speed up the process, you can alternate dipping back and forth between a bowl of cold water and the hot beeswax.

4. Continue to dip the lantern in wax a total of approximately 15 to 20 times, until desired thickness is reached.

5. If you would like to add decorations to the lantern, you can add pressed leaves, flowers, or tissue paper that has been cut into shapes. Dip the decoration in the beeswax, then carefully secure the edges of your decoration onto the side of your lantern with your fingers. Quickly dip the entire lantern one more time to secure the decorations with a thin coat of beeswax.

6. When the wax has cooled, turn your lantern upside down over a sink and snip the top of the balloon to remove it.

7. To finish the top and the bottom of the lantern, turn your stovetop on low and heat a flat pan. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, and touch the bottom of your luminary to the pan, slowly making circles to melt the wax on the bottom until it rests flat. Repeat the process for the top of the lantern to give it a nice smooth finish around the rim.

8. Your lantern is now finished and can be enjoyed indefinitely. Place a tealight in the bottom of the lantern to watch it glow. If your lantern is smaller than 4 inches wide, you will want to use a battery-powered tealight so the heat of the burning tealight does not melt the sides of your lantern.

Caution: If your wax is too hot when you attempt to begin dipping, the balloon will pop and the wax will likely boil over the sides of your double boiler.

For more from Honey Crafting, check out the article DIY Beeswax Crafts for the Home.

Excerpted from Honey Crafting: From Delicious Honey Butter to Healing Salves, Projects for Your Home Straight from the Hive written by Leeann Coleman & Jayne Barnes, Copyright © 2013 by F+W Media, Inc. Used by permission of F+W Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Buy this book from our store: Honey Crafting.

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