The warmth of candlelight and the stark simplicity of a winter silhouette are joined together in this wood frame lantern. I made a paper version of this last year and have been dreaming ever since of a more permanent version that would allow the image to be changed easily for a new season, a holiday celebration or simply on a whim. In this design, the vellum silhouettes slide in and out of the center frame allowing you to create and rotate a limitless collection of scenes and pictures. Its construction is also basic enough to be easily adapted to create other shaped frames or frames of a different size.
2 sheets of 1/8” x 6” x 12” craft plywood*
1 sheet of 1/32” x 6” x 12” birch plywood*
Scroll saw or coping saw
Black and white cardstock
12 inches of twill tape
Fine grit sandpaper
Pencil, ruler, exacto knife, glue stick, wood glue
* check a craft store or hobby shop to find these
Divide each plywood sheet into three sections by measuring in 1/16” shy of 3” from each short edge. The center section should measure 6” across. Mark its center with a small tick at the top. Use light pencil marks.
Draw an arc that spans from one side of the plywood to the other, centering the top of the arc at the midpoint you just marked. I traced a large bowl, but you could use a compass or stick and string as well.
Cut each section of the thicker sheets with a scroll saw or a coping saw, and the thin sheet with an exacto knife and ruler.
Set aside the thicker triangular side sections (we will come back to those later) and discard the thin triangles.
Draw a border around each center piece by measuring in 3/4” on the two thicker plywood pieces and 1/2” on the thinner plywood piece.
Cut the inner section out of your thinner plywood piece with an exacto knife and ruler.
Drill a hole through the center of both thicker pieces that is large enough to allow your saw blade to fit through the hole.
Both a scroll saw and a coping saw allow you to detach the blade and run it through the hole you created so you can saw from the inside of your pieces.
Cut out the inner section of both thick pieces with your saw. When cutting the corners it is helpful to cut up to the corner, back out, round the corner at a more gradual angle and then go back at the end and notch out the remaining corner section.
Trace the thinner plywood center piece onto a piece of heavy white cardstock. This will create a template you will use to size the vellum. Cut the template out by cutting around the inner lines of the bottom and sides and extending those cuts to meet the outer curved line at the top.
Use fine grit sandpaper to sand down all of the pieces including the four triangular side sections you set aside earlier. Erase or sand off any remaining pencil marks from measuring.
It is time to assemble the frame. Use an exacto to cut the center section of the arch off of the thinner plywood piece. The cut should follow the side lines of the frame so that the side pieces each retain a small arched section at their tops.
Glue the three layers together with wood glue, sandwiching the thinner layer between the two thicker pieces, and making sure all of the edges are flush. I found it helpful to apply the wood glue with a small paintbrush.
The three-layer frame will have a thin slot opening along the arch, which is where the vellum silhouette will slide into the frame.
Glue two thicker triangular sections together for each side using wood glue.
Wipe any excess glue from the edges of all pieces, wrap them in parchment or wax paper to prevent sticking and dry them thoroughly under a heavy weight such as a stack of books.
Once dry, attach the side sections to the center frame at the back by gluing a length of twill tape along the seam.
Begin the silhouette scene by tracing the template onto vellum and cutting.
Cut pieces from black cardstock to create images and glue them onto the vellum using a glue stick. Remember 1/4” of the vellum along the bottom and sides and 3/4” along the top arch will not show, as they will fall within the edges of the wood frame.
Slide the vellum image into the frame. Set your lantern out with a small tea light set behind it at a safe distance and enjoy!
Liv is a homeschooling mother to three girls who still has all ten fingers despite her recent forays into woodworking. She blogs at 54stitches.