how to-sday | bubbly fish lantern

March 23, 2010

I just received a set of six rainbow fish beads from SB Supply as part of the Totally Tutorials Exchange Program. The shipping was super fast and came with a cute little pouch and card, so I can’t recommend this Etsyian enough!!! I pondered for awhile over what to do with them and then looked up at this sad little paper lantern that’s been hanging naked and lonely over my kitchen island for awhile now. Inspiration struck, so here’s a great little ocean lantern that would be perfect for a child’s room or a nursery!
Oh, and heads up – you are going to end up with tiny splatters of paint all over your nose, cheeks, and wherever you’re working!
  • six glass fish beads (available from SB Supply)
  • paper lantern, any size (got mine for $1 from Michael’s)
  • dish soap
  • a bit of water
  • a straw
  • two shades of blue paint
  • a whisk
  • a large shallow bowl
  • fishing line
  • scissors
1.   Begin by squirting a generous amount of one shade of blue paint and a lot of soap into the dish.
2.   Slowly add water and whisk the mixture together until it’s thick and foamy. You want to have at least 1/4″ of liquid in the bowl.
3.   Dip the straw into the bottom of the bowl and blow until you have a big pile of bubbles.
4.   Gently roll one side of the lantern across the pile of bubbles. If any bubbles stick to the lantern, just blow on them or lightly poke them until they pop. When the bubbles pop, they’ll leave an outline of paint. The bubbles will vary in size and density of paint, so you’ll end up with some darker, thicker spots on the lantern. This variegation is what gives the paint the ‘ocean’ look.
5. Once you’ve fully covered all the white parts of the lantern, squirt your darker blue shade into the original soap/paint mixture. Add enough to thoroughly darken the mixture, and repeat the whole process over again. Using two shades of paint contributes to the depth and textured look of the project. You could also do a greenish or aqua shade. Set it aside to dry.
6.   Cut six pieces of fishing line about 4″ each. 
7.   Tie a triple-knot at one end of each piece of fishing line. This is tedious and a bit tricky because the line is very thick. You’ll just have to be patient and tough it out through this part. Test each knot by threading it through a fish bead to make sure that it is larger than the hole in the bead. After you’ve tied the knot, pass it very briefly through an open flame to fuse it. 
8.   Poke six holes at equal intervals around the hole in the bottom of the lantern. I flipped mine upside down because the top hole is slightly bigger than the bottom. 
9.   Thread the opposite end of a fish string through the first hole, and tie it very tightly two or three times. Repeat for each fish. You can hang them all at the same level, or if you want some variety, hang them at slightly different heights, like I did. 
10.   Snip the loose ends of the fishing line, and hang up your lantern!


  1. This tutorial did two very cruel things to me.
    First of all, it added a very urgent “to do” to my neverending “gotta try this one” – list, as I really love the idea.
    Second of all, and probably worse, it reminded me of that long- forgotten burned- out lightbulb in my good old IKEA china- knockoff- cathaircovered- can’tbelieveIstillhaveit- lamp in the hallway.
    I shall spare you the details, but I managed to take the glass part out of the metal part (bulb) and then break the actual holder. After I removed the cat hair from the shade. And got told off by the Mister for fiddling about with electrics in the dark and to please wait till the morning, he would fix it. Err. He doesn’t know yet that I totally broke it.
    Well, the shade is clean now and ready for a dish soap treatment… if someone couldkindly repair the holder?

  2. I really like this because you obviously went the more playful route, but you could easily make it look elegant by using subdued colors and some beautiful crystal charms or lots of little tiny beads. Cool!

  3. How cute! My girlies would love it…and I actually have some fish like that in my stash! I’ll have to try it!

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