Capture leaves and grass on waxed paper to make natural-look shades for a simple lantern. Just add a candle or light for soft illumination indoors or outside.
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Each lantern needs eight pieces of acrylic cut slightly undersize (Project Diagram, Cutting List). Ask a Lowe’s associate to cut the sheets to 6-7/16-inch x 9-7/16-inch. By cutting the pieces a little undersized, you can make lanterns to the dimensions shown in the cutting list and allow for the material to expand and contract as temperatures change.
Collect the grasses or leaves of your choice. Place the grasses between magazine pages to flatten and let sit overnight. Place grasses artfully between sheets of waxed paper and seal using an iron.
Remove the protective coating from each piece of acrylic and place the pressed waxed paper between two acrylic panels and trim paper flush with the edges of the acrylic.
Sand the square dowels with a 180-grit sanding sponge before cutting the parts to length. Using a miter box and handsaw, or a powered miter saw, cut the 3/4-inch square dowels to length for the posts (A) and rails (B) (Project Diagram, Drawing 1). Glue and clamp two side assemblies.
Lay out the seven bottom rails that support the candle with their ends against the lower rails of the two side assemblies as shown (Project Diagram, Drawing 2).
It would be difficult to glue the nine rails that connect the two sides of the lantern at one time, so glue and clamp the bottom rails first to one side and then the other. After those two assemblies dry, add the top rails.
Apply glue to one end of the bottom seven rails position them against the first side assembly. Use no glue on the opposite ends and clamp the frames together -- use an extra loose rail at the top to keep the sides aligned as you clamp (Photo 1).
When the glue dries, remove the loose side assembly, flip the unit upside down, and add the remaining two rails -- this time glue both ends of the two loose rails and the remaining ends of the bottom rails. Clamp until the glue dries.
Cut the vertical glass stops (C) to length. Glue two to each opening flush with the outside of the corner posts (A) and place them in position until the glue dries (Photo 2).
Cut the horizontal glass stops (D) to fit between the vertical glass stops. Glue two to each opening flush with the outside as you did with the verticals. Use tape to hold the parts in position while the glue dries.
Cut the top end trim (E) and top side trim (F) to length and glue to the top of the frame. These parts sit flush with the inside of the frame and create a slight overhang. Give the project a final sanding with 180-grit sandpaper.
Apply a primer and two coats of exterior spray paint to all of the wood parts following the manufacturer’s instructions. Cover all exposed edges to seal the wood from the elements.
Place one acrylic panel assembly into the lantern and then add the remaining vertical and horizontal glass stops using silicone. Place a bead in the frame and set the acrylic, then place a second bead to add the stops. This will prevent moisture from seeping between the acrylic sheets (Photo 3).
Add silicone to the top of a canning jar lid and place into the bottom of the lantern. Now the lantern is ready for a candle.
If you want to hang the lantern, install screw eyes on the inside of the top side trim parts (Project Diagram, Drawing 2).