If anyone has hung lanterns, they know how tedious the job can be. Getting each lantern individually hung, at just the right height, just the right angle, with the colors in the right spot and the arrangement just perfect can be an overwhelming task. We've thrown a lot of showers, parties, receptions and holiday get togethers in my parents back yard. No event is complete without some decorating (my Mom is a supreme party planner) and it always ends up needing some sort of hanging decoration. It's the family joke that whenever it comes to hanging, people start to disappear! I remember having them hung over the crib in Gracie's nursery and getting them just right was a task. I was sold on the idea of a frame when I realized how easy it was to assemble it and get it looking just right in a convenient way. There wasn't a need to spend an hour moving the ladder around, cutting down strings, and re-hanging when necessary. I love for a party that you could assemble your chandelier days before (even a week if you're really on top of it:) and only need to hang one item before a party.
Building the frame was a pretty simple task. I picked up a bunch of dowels at Home Depot, I used the 5/8" x 48" size, I loved how light they were. Depending on the size you want, you can cut them down to assemble just what you're looking for. I made mine 48" x 12". It's a great size, but it is pretty large. I made another frame that is 36" x 12" and think that would definitely be an easier size, but definitely not as big of a statement. We drilled pilot holes, as the tutorial suggested, and still had a little splitting in the dowel, but nothing that caused an real damage. 4 screws and we were ready to go! As a side note- if you're not planning on adding a ton of paper lantern, you could easily paint the frame, so it looks a little better if it's peeking out in between the lanterns. Mine is so full, you can't see the frame at all when it's hung.
I love the look of incorporating more than just paper lanterns. I wanted to use tissue paper pom poms and honeycomb balls as well. I think it gives it great dimension to add all of that in together. I knew I wanted pattern, texture and color, so I set out to find all three.
*Before you buy...
I knew for the girls chandelier I wanted it to be really full. The tutorial I went off of showed the lantern all hung pretty evenly. I wanted to stagger mine a bit, giving it more of a domed look, meaning I would need more than the tutorial suggested. I love bright colors, especially in the girls room. I was immediately drawn to a few different shades of pink and orange, with a bit of gold. I love how happy it looks! I think a chandelier would be great in monochromatic colors or an ombre effect.
*Where to buy
I picked up the lanterns for this project at Zurchers, a party store in Utah. I have been so impressed with their selection! If you're not local, I'd suggest Luna Bazaar. They have every shape, size, color and pattern you could ever want...seriously, it's amazing! I used them for our wedding and for the lanterns I previously hung in Gracie's nursery. My Mom has ordered from them dozens of times and has always been happy with them.
*What to look for
I wanted color, texture and some pattern. I found some amazing white and gold polka dot tissue paper and decided to keep that as my main pattern. If you're wanting pattern on your paper lantern, I'd suggest ordering those online and then finding shades to match. Martha Stewart has some great lace lanterns that I've used for Valentine's day and a couple parties. They look so pretty hung and thought the pale pink complimented the other colors. The honeycomb balls are my new favorite. I fell in love with the pale orange color and wanted to pick up every single one.
*How many to buy and what size
This question depends on what kind of look you're going for. If you're wanting more of a domed look, and you're using a 48"x12", I'd suggest picking up between 15-20. I used 5 large, 7 medium and 6 small, in all different colors and types (lantern, tissue paper pom pom, honeycomb). If you're making something smaller, I'd suggest looking for some types that are even smaller (think 4" in diameter). I found some pre-made garlands that had small oval lanterns, pom poms, and even tissue paper discs that you can cut apart to attach on. They're also great fillers if you have spot that you can see the frame through.
Tissue Paper Pom Poms...
I have been making these for quite a few years. I think for one particular shower in California I made close to 30...and it was a pain! But making a few for the chandelier was a piece of cake. I used mostly the polka dot paper and one from bright orange tissue paper. I love how these look with patterned paper...probably more than solid. There are tutorials all over the place, but I've learned a few tricks. Most tutorials, or even pre packaged kits (don't ever buy those!) come with about 8 sheets per pom pom. I've never subscribed to the less is more philosophy when it comes to crafting, so I like about 12 sheets in each. Especially if you'll be installing this in your home for long term use, the fuller your pom pom is, the longer it will last...when there are only 8 sheets, after time they look dull and fall flat.
I'm not going to lie- I thought everything about this project was pretty easy. It's something you could put together in an afternoon. However, it is definitely a two person job, especially when it comes to assembling it all. My sister came over, and while her husband and Matthew took the kids swimming, we tackled it. I laid out the big sized balls and got the color combination just right, then added in some of the medium sized balls. We played with the configuration and then started hanging the large sized. I used a thick, durable fishing line to tie everything on. My suggestion is to just start and get 5-8 hung and then step back and adjust what you need to. There will always be one that needs to be lower, one that needs to be raised or tilted. When it comes to hanging the lantern, I hung them with the holes on the side, so when you're under the chandelier you won't see the holes. I like how it looked way more, although it is a little more of a hassle to hang them that way (on a side note- if you want to hang some ribbons down from the lantern, hang them so the hole is facing down, the ribbons will hide the metal frame and hole). We finished up with the small sized pieces and then made some final adjustments.
Installing and Hanging...
I consulted my Dad (he's in construction) as well as a slew of employees at Home Depot (I'm fairly certain they made fun of me after I left) on the best way to install your finished frame. For a party or temporary fixture, you're fine to use an eye hook screw. The whole chandelier weighs maybe two pounds, so with four screws, you'll be totally safe. The nice thing about these screws is that you can twist them right into the ceiling, and they don't leave huge holes. If you're planning on installing them as a permanent fixture, and you're wanting to be safe, you can use a dry wall anchor and a longer eye hole screw. The anchor will prevent the screws from slipping out of the drywall. It will leave a little bit of a bigger hole, but something that can be easily patched. I slipped some fishing line through each corner and then looped it through the eye hole of the screw. You'll probably want it pretty close to the ceiling.
Ideas on where and how to use these...
*In your home
I obviously loved the idea of hanging a chandelier over the girls bed. But also thought it would be great over a playroom table, a kitchen table, or even a couch (I totally could have seen doing this in my college apartment). Play around with the colors, fullness and size. All white (with even some lace ribbon hanging down) would be beautiful in a shabby chic room. Ribbons hanging down definitely would give it more of a little girl look, but there are ways to do them more masculine. Less tissue paper balls (to me they do seem a little more girly), and the right color scheme would be great.
*For an event
I have an endless list of where to use these for a party. I mean, seriously, they could be used everywhere! Anniversary parties would be great with pictures hanging down (I talked about this in the segment), birthday parities, weddings, showers, you name it. My Dad's 60th birthday is next year, I could totally see doing one in gold, cream and white. A perfect Valentine's Day centerpiece with glittered x's and o's hanging down. It will definitely be used for Gracie's upcoming 5th birthday party!
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If you have any questions, feel free to comment or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). Thanks so much!