Willow Lanterns with the Kennish Family


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Securities Administrator, Martyn Kennish is a familiar face at our willow lantern workshops and has been coming to them for six years with his family.

Their designs are more elaborate and inspiring each year they come. They are friendly and generous with their advice (and their paints) to other families, always lending a hand to fellow lantern makers. We caught up with Martyn to ask him what keeps their family coming back and what top tips he has for newbies.

Q. What do you enjoy about making willow lanterns?

It's a great family day that we spend together building something from scratch. It's nice to help other families that are there maybe for the first time whether its advice or just lending them some paint for their lanterns.

Q. What’s brought you back to make them year on year?

It's a great family activity that we all enjoy, we all like arts & craft so it's great to come up with new ideas each year.

Q. Tell us about making your first ever willow lantern.

The first time we got involved in the Willow Lantern workshop it was held in the Villa Marina Arcade. My daughter was 4 at the time so she was building a simple pyramid as it was our first time. I picked up a couple of curved sticks and the way they landed on the table looked like a fish, so that's what I built.

Q. What tips do you have for other families when it comes to making a lantern?

Give the wood time to bend (slower is safer) it gives the wood fibre time to stretch and compress around the new shape.  Rapid sudden bending is more likely to result in it cracking.

Use the middle sections of the branches, as thin wood bends easier than thick wood, also avoid bending the willow if it has knots in.

Warm the Willow by rolling the Willow in between your hands, this heats the branch and makes it easier to bend.

Add paint to the glue when you’re covering your Lantern to paint it at the same time.

Adding Fairy lights inside the Lantern is a great idea to brighten it up.

Start simple, if it’s your first time building a Lantern then start with a simple shape such as a cube, star or pyramid. Once you gain a bit of confidence then anything’s possible.

Make sure you give yourself enough time, the bigger your build the longer it takes to build and cover.

If you decide to build something more complex than a cube or pyramid, I find drawing a simple plan and deciding the measurements is a good idea. I built a present one year that only just fitted through the door.

But the most important thing is to have fun and let your imagination go wild, in the Six years I’ve been building I’ve seen everything from Olaf the Snowman to the Creeper from Minecraft. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it.


Join our next workshop!

10-4 | Henry Bloom Noble Primary School | 16 + 17 November | Admission free

Facebook Event - Isle of Man Arts Council Willow Lantern Workshops


A sponsored body of
The Department of Education, Sport and Culture
Rheynn Ynsee, Spoyrt as Cultoor
Isle of Man Government
Reiltys Ellan Vannin
Isle of man Government
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