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Something to build on

Chicken wire

Chicken wire (also called poultry wire) is a pretty good base for making forms. It's inexpensive, and not too hard to find (perhaps harder if you live in the city , but Home Depot, Home Hardware and Aboveground Art Supply carry it.)

It can be fairly easily worked with wire cutters (also called diagonal cutters) and a pair of needle-nosed pliers, but the biggest problem you'll notice is that the stiff wire is very sharp and springy and it's easy to get sharply poked or deeply scratched while working with chicken wire, especially when doing things like unrolling a roll of it or squeezing the ends into place.

My best suggestions are to wear leather work gloves and an old heavy leather or canvas jacket to work in to save your hands and arms from damage. Safety goggles or a face shield are also strongly recommended. Sweep your work area carefully afterward to pick up any needle-sharp little snippets of wire.

Getting up

Once you have an idea for a lantern, you should think about how you want to display it. Will it be enough to set it on the ground? Will there be a crowd of people? Is there a show or performance as part of the event? You don't want to block people's view of the performers, even with your own fabulous creation.

If you're carrying it in a procession or are just standing with it in a crowd, a long pole allows people to see your creation clearly while raising it up high enough that it is less likely to block the view of your neigbours if something is going on. A little height also helps protect your lantern from accidental damage in the crowd.

Use a Knock-Down Pole if you need more length that is practical to carry in your transportation.

Pole Loop

A very simple and effective connector to join a lantern to the end of a bamboo pole is the Pole Loop. Here's how to make one:

What you'll need:

What to do:

  1. Cut a piece of wire that is about six to eight inches or so. This can vary a bit depending on the diameter of the pole and the size of the lantern.
  2. Bend the wire in half so there is a rounded loop about 1/4 to 1/2 inch across. Make sure there is enough room for the wire hanger on the lantern to be held in the loop and still move freely.
  3. Bend one end of the wire into a loose zig-zag shape so the whole thing looks like a bobby pin. Leave the other end straight.
  4. Make sure there is an open space in the end of the bamboo pole at least a few inches deep. Cut the end off the pole if there is a joint too close to the end - there will not be enough space for the pole loop to grip inside the pole.
  5. Push the two ends of the wire into the open end of the bamboo pole.
  6. Check to see if the pole loop wedges itself into the pole opening. If it is too loose, remove it and bend the two ends apart so it will. If it is too tight, squeeze the loop end together a bit to make the end pieces closer together. This bit may take a little trial and error until you get the hang of it.
  7. Remove the pole loop. Slip the wire through the hanging loop on the lantern and push the pole loop back into the end of the pole.
  8. Check to make sure the pole loop is not too loose. If necessary, you can stabilize the loop with a piece of duct tape (use a colour for extra festivity!) but you may not need to unless you are going to be swinging the lantern energetically.
  9. If you have a solid dowel or stick for hanging, use the loop as described but don't bother with the zig-zag bend. Put the loop through the lantern hanger and over the end of the stick and tape it into place so the two legs are on either side of the stick.
  10. If you want to get fancy, you can bend little loops into each end of the wire, close to the end of the stick and again at the ends of the wire, and use screws to attach it more permanently.
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