celebrating martinmas – lantern festival – 11th November 2019

Art & Crafts
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origami lanterns
“I go with my bright little lantern,
My lantern it goes with me,
In heaven, the stars are shining,
On earth, shines my lantern for me
My light shines bright, dark is the night,
Rabimmel, Rabummel, Rabum”

The legend of St Martin comes from France, where there once was a young man who passed under an archway in the city of Amiens and discovered a poor beggar, shivering with cold, huddled there.  On seeing him, Martin took his own thick, red cloak from his shoulders, tore it in half and covered the poor man to warm him. The following night he had a wondrous dream full of angels and saw Christ wearing the same piece of cloak he had given the beggar.  The experience confirmed to him his devotion to all mankind regardless of their station in life and he went on to become the patron saint of beggars and outcasts, and known for his gentleness and his ability to bring warmth and light to those previously in darkness. (Shown below is the beautiful Ostheimer St Martin Set –  This is currently out of production but will return in the future.).

ostheimer st martin martinmas and beggar

On the evening of Martinmas he is remembered in many french households with a festival of lanterns, carrying the light through the darkened home, singing songs and sharing food.  Martinmas is also celebrated in many countries and in Waldorf schools around the world with magical lantern walks accompanied by special songs, finishing with sharing bread around a fire, it is one of the most beautiful festivals of the year and coincides with many other lantern celebrations and traditions this time of year brightening the darker evenings.

martinmas bonfire gnome

As we start to enter the darkest time of year and draw nearer to advent and the solstice, this wondrous festival of gently glowing lights, lanterns, fires and sharing, kindles the warmth and light in our hearts.  Here Ambrosius Gnome Corylus and friends are enjoying sharing bread around their bonfire.

martinmas craft – making lanterns

martinmas lanterns

There are lots of fun way to make lanterns with children at this time of year to light the home and take on lantern walks.  Above we have used the origami lantern paper –  flame resistant paper for making origami lanterns, pretty tea light holders or strings of mini lights.  It folds easily, is long lasting and can be painted and decorated with magical results.

martinmas watercolour painting lantern

how to make a martinmas lantern

 After wet-on-wet painting on some Aquarelle paper and letting it dry, oil the paper to make it more transparent (and it allows the light to shine through even more beautifully).  Fold and cut paper 1-2 cm apart along fold, and cut tabs along one long side for lantern base.  Staple or glue together. Fold base flaps, and insert a disc of cardboard (re-use some food packaging) and then using paper glue, stick together. Let glue dry. Fix beeswax tealight  to base with sticky wax . Make a handle with yarn leftovers or wire, and fix to the top of the lantern, ready for a walk! For greater safety, hang the lantern from a wire hook attached to a stick.

martinmas kite paper leaf lanterns

These beautiful leaf lanterns were designed by Veronica.  Here we have instructions on how to make this home style lantern with dried leaves and then you can use it as a table or mantelpiece decoration for Martinmas, or fit with a stick and wire and go out and have a wonderful Lantern Walk.

First collect leaves and lay between layers of newspaper – lay each leaf on its own, not touching another leaf. Have 3-4 sheets between each leaf layer – then pile on large heavy books on top (the first one needs to be as large as the area the leaves are taking) and wait 3-4 days. The leaves should now be dry and flat. Enjoy viewing each one held up to a window in daylight to see which ones you want to use for the Lantern.

You will need:
Coloured card – I used card from Creative Coloured Paper & Card
Kite Paper (any transparent paper can be used, except tissue paper)

1. Fold two pieces of card, leaving half an inch spare. 2. Draw a curve using a bowl as guide on the card  3. Cut as shown. 4. Score down and fold. (This is for glueing together later) Score w approx 1.5 inches from the bottom, and fold – this forms part of the base later. 5. Cut from bottom to scored line where the sections are folded and remove small piece below glueing side strip. See image. 6. Draw a nice shape on each section.  7. Cut out each ‘window’. 8. You can use any colour kite paper for this, I used white first then layered with a yellow afterwards – this makes the dry leaves a little less flammable. 9. After first kite paper is glued down, decide where you want your leaves. Glue sticks not so useful for this, you will need some kind of liquid paper glue that dries clear. Glue leaves in place, then add your next layer of kite paper. 10. Glue sides of Lantern together. 11. Glue base together. 12. Add a piece of cardboard and glue this in place – this is added from the inside of the lantern – i put glue on the edges and then dropped in down into the lantern and held it in place for a a minute till it dried. 13. You can add some holes to the tops if you are going to use wire or string to carry your lantern on a walk. I chose to reinforce the holes. 14. Lantern all dried and lit up – beautiful! 15. Try different colours and sizes to create a display!

martinmas lantern instructions

You can also decorate jam jars with paper glue and kite paper or tissue paper and leaves and put a tea light inside, and we also have lantern paper bags, and creative lantern making kits.

luminaria paper bag lanterns

martinmas paper bag lanterns

These Paper Bag Lanterns create such a beautiful and luminous effect with ease.  So stunning here silhouetting these Ostheimer animals! Simply add a tealight to each, and arrange the lanterns up the path or around the garden and can also be used indoor. Simple, but so effective.

creative lantern set

This Creative Lantern Set has everything you need to make two individual, creative and sturdy lanterns – set includes a selection of hobby-craft items to help and includes tinted paper, card, corrugated board, transparent paper, circular box bases, wire, lantern holder, tea light holder, instructions and pattern sheet.

For all lanterns do not leave unattended. Do not use in a draughty place indoors or windy place outdoors.

martinmas lanterns




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