Parade Lantern Building

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The Atlanta Beltline Lantern Parade is one of my favorite fall festivals in Atlanta. The pride in community, and joy seen on everyone’s faces, makes the event something that can’t be missed. This year for the parade, Brandon and I decided to build a lantern to be a part of the event, rather than just a spectator. It look a solid 2 months from start to finish, but the lantern came out beautifully.


One of my favorite movies is Pixar’s UP, and we thought it would be an amazing idea to build Kevin, the snipe. It required a lot of planning, several trips to Hobby Lobby and Lowe’s, but once we started building we were addicted and the ideas kept flowing.


We started with the basics, the body. Brandon is a high-performance mechanic by trade, but he also fabricates, so I knew he had the ability to sculpt and think in 3 dimensions (he didn’t realize he had this talent!). Using some photos for reference, we built the body out of chicken wire, sculpting as we went along. Once the body, neck, and head were attached together, we used a string of LED lights attached to a battery pack (can be purchased here). We left a hole in the butt of Kevin to insert and remove the battery pack, in order to turn the lights on and off.




Next, was color. I knew the way to go was to use colored tissue paper as it was see-through, but attaching it was a bit of a problem. I thought about using plastic wrap first, with the colored paper on top. As we were going through the aisles in Hobby Lobby, shrink wrap came into view, and it was the perfect solution. Kevin was wrapped in sections and taped at the edges. With the help of a blowdryer, the wrap fit snugly around the chicken wire. The tissue paper was put on in 2 phases: 1 overall layer using blocks of color, and the second was a detail layer, gluing on diamonds of color to mimic feathers. The neck and head were covered first, using ping pong balls as the eyeballs so that light would shine through.




Kevin was starting to take shape! Before we could cover the body, we needed to attach the legs. These were created using a mix of chicken wire and the tube from wrapping paper. A little more attaching, more shrink wrap, and the legs were on!




The biggest issue we ran into were Kevin’s toes. Brandon tried creating them from chicken wire, but it was too time consuming and didn’t give the effect we wanted. I remembered using Crayola Model Magic as a kid (which now comes in colors!) so he sculpted the toes from that, attaching them with a glue gun. Some more colored paper, and tons of brown paint later…Kevin was complete! Here she is in all her glory.




He was a hit at the parade! I carried some LED balloons along side for the total effect. It was great to hear kids call out “LOOK MOM IT’S KEVIN!” from the sidelines. Makes me proud we got it right! The lantern parade was amazing, even bigger turnout than last year. I was happy to be a part of it. Next time, we may reuse Kevin, adding some more elements to the mix (it’ll be a surprise!)


Below is a great video Southern Aerial Media did of the 2014 Atlanta Beltline Lantern Parade.


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