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Rockwell Paper Scissors: Paper Bag Lantern

This Rockwell Paper Scissors project is available at the KIDS ROCKWELL Art Lab January 30 – February 3! Or, follow along at home with these simple DIY instructions to make your own Paper Bag Lantern with art materials from around the house.

When we visit an art museum, we expect to see big paintings made with oil paints or watercolors, or gleaming bronze statues. But artists, especially those living today, fashion artworks out of all kinds of materials, even things you might have in your house!

For this month’s Rockwell Paper Scissors, we were inspired by this artwork in The Rockwell collection, called Winter Crows (Paris) by Haudenosaunee artist Peter Jemison. Jemison makes artworks out of all sorts of materials, and was inspired to make a series of artworks on paper bags when he was riding the subway in New York City and observed all the different types of bags people use to carry their everyday belongings.

We challenged ourselves to think about what we could make out of a paper bag. Since it’s January and we could all use a little extra light, we designed this Paper Bag Lantern project!

What you’ll need:

  • Paper lunch bags
  • Scissors
  • Pen or pencil
  • Colorful plastic or tissue paper
  • Stones or sand
  • Votive candle

Paper Pag Lantern Instructions

Follow the instructions here, or follow along with our video tutorial!

  1. Fold the bottom flap of the bag down, so that there is a crease in the middle of the base of the paper bag.

  2. Fold the paper bag in half “long-ways”…

  3. …then long-ways again!

  4. Draw shapes along each long edge of the bag. Make sure they don’t go all the way to the opposite edge!

  5. Cut each shape out with scissors. Make sure you don’t cut all the way across the bag!

  6. Unfold the bag and straighten out the bottom so that the bag stands on its own.

  7. Choose some of the openings that you would like to have colors shine through. Cut strips of colored plastic to fit over these openings, overlapping the edges a little. 

  8. Fill the bottom of the paper bag with stones or sand to hold it down (optional), and add a votive candle.

    And, voila! You have a colorful Paper Bag Lantern that will add a cozy glow to your bedroom or front stoop.