Festival of Firsts fun – making willow lanterns

Hours of Fun are part of the Festival of Firsts team bringing lots of fun, workshops, events and entertainment to Hoylake, West Kirby, Meols, New Brighton, Woodchurch and Birkenhead. The festival is organising a lantern parade at the end of March in Hoylake and as part of this we are making lanterns with groups of children.
The workshops kicked off at the Williamson Art Gallery and they were making lanterns from willow. I headed over to help out at the workshop as a volunteer and to take a closer look at this technique of lantern making and it was so much fun.
The venue is fantastic, with lots of space, equipment and supplies to use. Everyone is really welcoming and friendly and anyone can come down to the Saturday workshops. They advertise through social media so follow them on Facebook and twitter to find out what they do.
I have not worked with willow before and had a quick lesson with Pamela Sullivan the resident artist there. As children started to arrive we got them designing them lantern, showing them some pictures of lanterns other people had made to give them some ideas. Once they were happy with their design, we got them bending, shaping and cutting the willow to size, fastening it in place with gaffer tape.
Due to the lantern parade not taking place until the end of March, the follow up workshops will run sometime in March and we encourage those who came to the first one to come back and finish their projects and more people to come along and get crafty. We got the adults involved too, helping out or designing their own lantern.
The lantern designs included – a butterfly, a traditional pyramid, a sun, a pig, a vase, a fly, a heart and a star.
When working with willow you need to soak it in water to allow it to bend and be shaped. If working with straight pieces it is not required to be wet. You need to ensure your design includes somewhere for your light to sit. Once you have the frame in place you can cover it with tissue paper using watered down PVA glue. Make sure you leave a gap somewhere so you can get inside to put a light – we will be using LED candles.
I will be heading back to the Williamson Art Gallery tomorrow to help out at their next workshop – the theme this time will the Chinese New Year – I can’t wait!


Keep an eye on their facebook page to keep up to date with what is going on – click here