Japanese Lanterns

Large Japanese lantern

These five large Japanese lanterns were made for Opera Queensland's new production of "The Mikado" which opens later in the year. The photo on the right gives an idea of their relative size. Standing over two metres tall they have a commanding presence.


Their construction was straightforward however the concave section in the middle was tricky to achieve as can be seen in the photo lower down the page. The timber lattice window sections are backed with translucent acrylic sheet to diffuse the lights that will be installed inside.


Japanese lantern lattice

Most Japanese lanterns traditionally have timber lattice windows. Initially, "stick-on" vinyl that was cut with a lattice pattern was considered but, being flat, had no visual impact. Real timber lattice panels were constructed which added a realistic dimension to the windows and created interesting shadows under stage lights.


The roof section lifts off to access the inside of the lattice light box section. Below are some photos taken during the construction of the lanterns.


Timber column construction
Timber Column Construction

The profile of the columns were cut in ply which were then fitted together in a cross. Unnecessary sections of ply were cut out to reduce the weight. The edges of the ply were bevelled so that bendy ply could be attached to form the outside surfaces of the columns.

Completed lantern columns
Completed lantern columns

Here the cladding of the columns has been completed. Extra work was needed to fill the gaps between the round topped square end sections of the top and bottom to the curved middle section.

Cutting timber lattice parts
Cutting lattice parts

Strips of wood were placed in a jig and a router was used to cut the slots needed to assemble the timber lattice sections.

Assembled lattice panel
Panel assembly

Here is a completed lattice panel assembly. Four for each lantern were required.

Top assembly
Top assembly

The four lattice panels are being joined together to make the top assembly of the lanterns. Opal translucent Perspex was fitted behind the lattice to diffuse the lights fitted inside.

base detail
Base detail

A detail shot of the base showing the blending of the ends to the curved section.