Magazine article Sunset

Luminarias for Holiday Tables

Magazine article Sunset

Luminarias for Holiday Tables

Article excerpt

The enchanting glow of traditional outdoor luminarias comes from the way the paper-bag shells amplify light from the candles within. We've brought the same quality of light indoors, using translucent handmade paper, cornhusks, and other natural materials for tabletop or mantel decorations.

The luminarias fit into simple frames and leave ample clearance for a votive candle in a glass container. To check for fire safety, we burned a candle in each luminaria for 6 hours. (Always bum votives in glass containers -- never put a luminaria around a naked candle -- and do not leave burning candles unattended.)

Although we show three luminarias here, we experimented with a dozen others made with different combinations of paper and frame materials. Part of the fun was making the frames from twigs or cuttings found in our own gardens or at floral or craft supply stores.

A glue gun was particularly helpful for fast assembly of the cornhusk and twig frames. Art supply stores offer the best selection of handmade paper, which is available in 2- by 3-foot sheets starting at $2. Be sure to hold the paper up to the light to see whether it's translucent. If you're unable to find a good paper selection, contact Loose Ends Box 20310 Keizer, OR 97307 (503/390-7457); it offers a broad array of handmade papers.

CORNHUSK

Materials

Cardboard mailing tube 3 1/2 inches in diameter Cornhusks (sold in grocery stores for tamales) Tan-colored raffia Handsaw or hacksaw Scissors or single-edge razor blade Ruler Glue gun and glue sticks

Steps

* Saw a 1-inch-wide ring from the cardboard mailing tube.

* Cut 10 to 12 cornhusks in varying lengths from 4 to 6 inches.

* Glue the longest husks to the ring, overlapping slightly, to complete one circle; repeat with shorter husks, spacing them between the longer ones. Repeat for several layers.

* Wrap the base four or five times with a long strand of raffia, twine, or ribbon, and tie.

TWIG FRAME

Materials

Straight twigs with branches (about 12), 12 inches long and 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick Cardboard or paper, 8 1/2 by 11 inches Raffia or colored twine Rice paper Garden clippers Ruler Glue gun and glue sticks Scissors or single-edge razor blade White glue

Steps

* Cut four twig pieces 12 inches long with branches intact. …

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