Thursday, July 25, 2013

Make A Flying Chinese Lantern (A Hot Air Balloon)

       The Chinese produce them in massive quantities, they've been in countless movies, but not many people have tried to make them. Of course they sell them online if you want to take the easy way out, but challenge yourself to making one from scratch. Here are the instructions on how to make a flying Chinese lantern. FIRST realize that these lanterns are dangerous, and in some places illegal. There is a fire hazard, not to mention the pollution problem with the wires. Use with caution and if you decide to try this, don't be stupid.

What You'll Need
    Chinese Lantern
  • Fabric from a towel (preferably unused, I don't care but you might)
  • A normal household candle
  • A plate or a tray
  • 3 Bamboo skewers
  • Two 24" pieces of florists wire 
  • Utility Knife (a razor blade will work fine)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Non-flammable tape
  • Protective clothing
  • Pencil
  • Large piece of brown craft paper
  • 8-10 sheets of tissue paper
  • Plastic or canvas drop cloth
  • Fireproofing spray
  • Tape measure or ruler
  • White craft glue
  • Match or lighter
The Juice, The Good Stuff, The Instructions

Part 1 Making The Candle
  1. Tie the fabric into a tight knot about the size of a golf ball if not larger leaving about 1" of the fabric at the ends of your knot. The ends will become your wick. 
  2. Center the two pieces of florists wire over the knot perpendicular to each other with the midpoint over the center of the knot. 
  3. Keeping the wires perpendicular and even in length, wrap them around the fabric tightly. This can take as little as 8 total creases, 2 on each fourth of wire. Set the wire knot aside.
  4.  Melt the candle wax into a container, enough to nearly cover the entire knot. 
  5. Set the knot into the liquid wax and let it soak for 3-5 minutes. 
  6. Remove the wick from the wax and let it harden. 
  7. Cover the knot and the parts of the wire right under it with aluminum foil in a tear shape. The 1" ends of the knot should stick out slightly over the top of the tear shape (the thin side of the tear).
  8. Then cover the rest of the wire with a thin layer of aluminum foil. 
Part 2 Constructing The Bamboo Frame and Adding the Candle
  1. Cut three bamboo skewers in half lengthwise using the utility knife. Run the split bamboo through a flame while slowly and patiently bending it. This should take a little less than five minutes to bend each half in a way that they will connect in a full circle. The diameter should be the right size for the wire to fit on it
  2. Line the bamboo up on a table with each flat face on the ends overlapping by about 1". 
  3. Secure these overlapping points by using a generous amount of non-flammable tape. Make sure this is a pretty good circle.
  4. Tape the ends of the aluminum foil wrapped wires to the overlapping sections of the bamboo frame. For better support wrap the wire around the bamboo before taping it. The circle should be divided into four equal quadrants. 
Part 3 Fireproofing the Paper
  1. Hang 8-10 sheets of tissue paper on a clothesline using clothespins.
  2.  Place a canvas or bucket to catch any possible drippings under the paper.
  3. Spray both sides generously with fireproofing spray leaving the part near the clothespins dry. If they get wet the paper can tear. 
  4. Allow the pieces to dry before working on them again.
Part 4 Create a Pattern for the Balloon
  1. Draw a straight 40" line on the brown craft paper.
  2. Draw a perpendicular horizontal 12" line at the base of the first line. The end of the vertical line should be halfway between the the 12" line leaving 6" on each side. You should have a perfect upside down "T" shape.
  3. Draw a second horizontal line 22" long about 2/3 of the way up on the vertical line. This should be parallel with the first horizontal line and should also be centered on the vertical line leaving 11" on both sides of the vertical line.
  4. Draw a gently curved line to connect the horizontal lines on both sides.
  5. Draw another gently curved line on both sides to connect the top horizontal line to the tip of the vertical line. 
  6. Use scissors to cut this shape out. It will serve as the template for your balloon. 
Part 5 Finishing your Creation 
  1. Layout the tissue paper in two rows with the shorter edges of the paper touching each other. Each piece should only be touching one other piece. 
  2. Overlap the touching papers 1" over each other and glue them together with non-flammable glue. It is also important to spread the glue evenly so that it does not blot up.
  3. Lay your brown paper template on top of the two paper panels and cut out the paper to match the template exactly. Do this with every piece.
  4. Glue the tips of each piece together and make them secure.
  5. Attach the opening of the paper balloon to the bamboo frame by folding the end up on the bamboo about 1" and gluing it. 
  6. Let everything dry.
Part 6 Launching the Balloon
  1. Take the creation outside.
  2. Light the wicks which are the pieces of fabric protruding out of the aluminum foil in the candle. 
  3. Wait for the balloon to collect enough hot air before attempting to let it go, then make a wish and enjoy!
Chinese lantern

       Well that'll be it for today folks. Remember this is dangerous and potentially harmful to the environment so proceed with caution. They are extremely cool to make and very cool to watch. Be careful while making it because little mistakes can greatly influence how the balloon flies. Good Luck! If you have any questions in the comments please do ask. Don't forget to SHARE SHARE SHARE! Thanks for reading!