Chinese Culture >> Chinese Handicrafts >> Chinese Lanterns
By: Steve Dolan
Once you've seen the fascinating light provided by a Chinese lantern, then you understand why they're so popular and well known. They produce a soft, diffused light that shines in all directions at once. Very few other lamps can produce light of that quality so consistently and evenly. Filmmakers have long known about the amazing quality of light produced by Chinese lanterns, and cinematographers have used them for many decades. They are still used today for a soft light source, particularly when it's needed quickly.
The Problem With Chinese Lanterns
There is one major problem with Chinese lanterns though - they're made from paper. So that means they're a fire hazard. After all, you're taking a paper bag and putting a 250-watt lamp inside it. So it's pretty obvious that once the lamp heats up, the chances of the bag catching on fire rise rapidly. Another problem is that Chinese lanterns are rather flimsy, being made of paper, so they can get damaged and torn quite easily.
Risk Free Lanterns
So if you want the beautiful effect of a Chinese lantern without the risk of fire, how can you go about it? One of the easiest ways to overcome the problems of fire risk and flimsiness is not to make your Chinese lanterns out of paper. This will make the lanterns safer, as well as helping them to last longer. A common choice is to make the Chinese lantern out of foolproof fabric.
For a handyman, making a more resilient Chinese lantern isn't difficult. You just need to combine the fabric, a light post globe and an ordinary lamp head. Apply a few of your handyman skills, and you can put a Chinese lantern together in as little as an hour or two. Always use parts that meet electrical safety standards, and remember to use a lower wattage globe.
If you're not keen on making a lantern yourself, check out lighting suppliers for photographers and cinematographers. They will be able to help you choose the right Chinese lantern for your requirements. However it's not likely to be cheap, so don't go in expecting a bargain.
Although one of the main attractions of Chinese lanterns is the way they spread their light over a whole area, sometimes you might want to direct the light a little more for effect. In that situation, you can use some flame retardant on one side of the lantern to stop light emanating on that side. Use Velcro is you only want a temporary reduction in light.
Kids Love Them Too
Of course, many people think of decorative paper lanterns when you mention Chinese lanterns, rather than a form of lighting. Kids love to make paper lanterns, and when they use a variety of colorful and decorative paper, it can be a great way to cheer up a room.
If you want an attractive lighting option for your home decor, then Chinese lanterns are a great choice. Their light is soft and soothing, and the lanterns themselves are good to look at. By finding alternative materials for the lanterns, you can enjoy the addition of Chinese lanterns to your home decor for years to come.
About the Author:
Steve Dolan is an interior designer who uses light and color to enhance the
decor of his home. To learn more about lanterns click
Lanterns and Outdoor Lanterns and how
to accent with picture frames at