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Balloon lights tutorial

Here in New Zealand we are now in the middle of winter, and when playing around with some LED fairy lights I thought I would combine my love for origami and bringing some winter sparkle to our house. And so the balloon lights were born!!

Ok let’s get started with the tutorial!

This is what you need for this project:

  • Pretty paper (appr. 20 sheets, mine were 90 x 90mm) on a white or light background. I went to Canon Chiyogami patterns and printed off Ya-mon in red. For more information on printing of paper from these sites have a look at June’s tutorial review here.
  • A string of LED fairy lights (mine had 30 lights). Normal fairy lights would probably work but I think leds are safer since they do not give off lots of heat.
  • A pair of very sharp scissors or a guillotine if you are printing off paper from the internet.

Here are my 20pcs of paper after I cut them with my guillotine.

Now first make a water-bomb base. This goes as follows:

With the printed side of the paper facing up, valley fold in half.

After that turn 90 degrees and valley fold in half again.

Now turn the paper over and do the same diagonally. Valley fold one side in half; turn 90 degrees and then valley fold in half again.

Now for the last part of the water-bomb base.

Use the creases you have made so far and the paper should naturally fall into this shape. I always look for the triangle and push the sides in with my fingers.

Here is your finished water-bomb base.

Now to make the actual balloon.

Fold the corner on the left hand side (top layer only) up to the middle.







Do the same on the right hand side; it should look like the picture above.

Turn the whole thing over and do the same on the other side. 

Your paper is now a little square with a line across the middle. Lift one of the sides up and fold the point to the middle; fold the opposite side the same way.

Now turn over and do the other side.

If you have your paper exactly like the one in the picture above, you can see on the right hand side some loose flaps. They will be folded and pushed into the little pockets you made earlier.

This picture is with the flaps folded down.

And here you can see how the flaps sit in the pockets. Turn over to do both sides.  

 Pre-crease as above.

Fold the side out a little and blow hard in the little hole you see on the bottom.

Tadaa here is your first little balloon! Now make another 10 or 15 depending on the amount of lights you have on the string.

The last part is to attach all the balloons to the string. I found the easiest way to do that is to first put up your light strings and then attach the balloons. The lights poke through the little holes you also used to blow the air in.

All done! Now sit back and make yourself a nice cup of tea with a biscuit and admire your work.

Once you’ve made some balloon lights, why not show them off in the Folding Trees flickr group? We’d love to see them!


Comment from Iona
Time: July 16, 2008, 9:31 pm

Genius! Fab tutorial and I love the link to Canon’s chiyogami patterns.


Comment from brooke
Time: July 17, 2008, 3:12 pm

This is a great project! I’m going to blog about it at as a project I love that I wish someone would sell in my shop!

Comment from dngirl
Time: July 22, 2008, 12:26 pm

The Louis Vuitton printable paper can be found here:

Happy Folding!

Comment from Jieyi
Time: December 8, 2008, 12:07 pm

Hello! Thank you for the wonderful tutorial! I was planning to do a variation of the origami on the fairy lights, but I have a question.

Is it possible to substitute Christmas lights for the fairy lights?

Comment from June & Eve
Time: December 8, 2008, 12:29 pm

Jieyi, Christmas lights and fairy lights are two names for the same thing! Just make sure you use a string of LED lights, as regular Christmas lights might get too hot and you don’t want to risk starting a fire with all that paper about…

Comment from Kris
Time: February 19, 2009, 11:48 pm

What size were the squares cut?

Comment from Martine
Time: February 21, 2009, 11:54 am

Nice tutorial! I remember some sort of oil (in Dutch it’s called slaolie, don’t know the English term) you normaly use for cooking can make paper translucent, so you can see the light better without loosing the colour and print of the paper. I have to try that some time. Guess it works the best when you use the oil on your paper before you make the folds, but don’t know fot sure… I’m sure Pergamona paper and vellum work fine also!!!

Comment from Anahi
Time: March 22, 2009, 3:22 pm

Where can I find a string like this? I can’t find any with LED lights…

Comment from Anahi
Time: March 22, 2009, 3:43 pm

ok, found it.

Comment from Hawaii
Time: July 16, 2009, 12:11 pm

Oh that is lovely.

Comment from Anne-Sophie
Time: January 24, 2010, 5:35 am

Nice work! I’d also like to know the size of the squares – thanks!

Comment from June & Eve
Time: January 24, 2010, 5:44 am

Mine were 90x90mm. See the instructions in the “what you need for this project” section.

Have fun!

Comment from Amanda
Time: June 3, 2010, 2:08 pm

So quick question, I wanna do a bunch of these for my friend’s wedding, but is it a fire hazard at all?

Comment from June & Eve
Time: June 3, 2010, 2:09 pm

Use LED lights – they aren’t hot like regular bulbs – and you’ll be fine :)

Comment from lesha
Time: August 26, 2010, 8:38 pm

wow! love this idea. thankx!

Comment from Diana Coeli
Time: November 4, 2010, 6:04 pm

Lindo de viver!

Comment from Sonia
Time: January 19, 2011, 1:31 am

The tutorials are too good…I like this link very much…

Comment from Jeanne Lea
Time: January 25, 2011, 12:03 pm

I love this! is fun easy and very decorative! i want to do this for my room! this has inspired me so much!

Thanks for the awsome tutorial!

Comment from Dyako
Time: July 12, 2011, 7:39 am

Thank you very very much.All items in your website are excellent & lovely.I am from Iran,I have showen your website to many friends.
Best Regards

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