Shine a Light on It

This weekend, I found myself in the company of my beautiful and loving best friend Bethany.

Even though I felt overwhelmed by all the upcoming changes in my life, I was so excited to see her. Bethany is one of those wonderful people who understand when you just need to sit down, watch some awesome TV, and relax. We had hours of amazing Smallville episodes; we watched and laughed at the hilarity of decade-old graphics and hairstyles. Bethany and I have watched Smallville together since the beginning… literally. You could say we are obsessed.

In yet another blast from the past, Bethany and I decided to tackle a massive weekend project together. In our creative past, we have spent hours gluing magazine pieces into a mosaic, we have ‘renovated’ a junk-filled barn, and we have written entire plays. We were (and are) very creative and determined girls!

This weekend Bethany bravely agreed to join me on another doily adventure. We were to create a Doily Lantern. Little did we know how difficult that would be!


As the beautiful Bethany poses with our balloon, I am standing beside a huge pile of doilies. I desperately tried to make them stretch across the balloon’s surface… and realized I had too few. Enter a trip to downtown McKinney and my favorite Antique Mall. Moral of the story: it’s always better to have too many doilies!!!


After a swift return (and a yummy lunch), we got together the other supplies: brushes, glue, and plenty of old newspaper. We set up our work space in the doorway to my bathroom, hung the balloon, and began gluing doilies onto its surface.

After running through an entire carton of mod podge as well as a bottle of tacky craft glue, it became obvious to us that our doily lantern was (literally) falling apart at the seams. We went at it with a hairdryer, desperately trying to will the doilies into sticking to each other. We gave up, left the balloon to gravity and the elements, and returned an hour later with sinking hearts to find the balloon lying on the floor, doilies soaked with wet glue, sliding off onto the newspaper.

Take two!


Let’s take a moment to be real here. When the frustration with the first failed attempt hit me, I froze. I glared at that balloon as though it had personally eaten my last bite of sirloin, and I sighed and growled for a good two minutes. I had no plan. I had no options. I was stewing.

My loving best friend did EXACTLY the right thing. She waited, silently, sensing the emotional explosion that was soon to erupt out of me. And, when my moment of utter frustration had passed and I admitted to a complete lack of other ideas, she was ready. Bethany had a plan of action all ready to go, and she took the lead.

I am so grateful for people like her. When the weight of the world feels as though it’s already broken one of your shoulders, it is so nice to know people who understand how you feel. Who know when you need a moment. Who know that it’s a big deal for you to admit temporary defeat, and who are ready and able to walk you out of it with optimism. It’s wonderful to let someone else take the reigns. It’s wonderful to be taken care of.

It may seem like my freak out here was exaggerated, undeserving, and comical. Yet, to me, this somehow was the last straw after weeks of emotional struggles and stresses. I NEEDED this to work out. When I couldn’t go forward, my best friend held my hand (or, my dripping balloon) and took control where I couldn’t.

This is what best friends are for.


So, we tried again. Our second attempt was successful, so I will detail our operations here:

1. Hang the balloon WELL in a sturdy location. It will grow very heavy with the weight of doilies and glue, so ensure that it will not fall.

2. Using Elmer’s school glue mixed with a little bit of water, begin attaching doilies to the surface of the balloon. Place a doily on the balloon, and paint with the glue mixture until it is completely saturated. If the glue is dripping off of the balloon, you may need to use less water. Plan to leave a large enough space between doilies in the top of the lantern to insert a light kit!

3. Cover the top half of the balloon with doilies, and then let it dry. Use a hairdryer on COOL if necessary to ensure the doilies harden in the correct place. (Using the hot setting could cause the balloon to pop.)

4. Hang the balloon “upside down” from the opposite end, and use the same process to cover the remaining surface with doilies and glue. Let dry completely.

5. Paint on another full layer of glue all over the surface of the lantern. Make sure that the doilies feel stable and “crusty” as we say! They need to hold their shape when the balloon is removed.

6. Let the balloon dry overnight, or longer.

7. Finally, POP the balloon, and remove it from the center of the lantern! Insert your light kit, using a cool LED bulb if possible. Enjoy!!!


I am so excited to use this beautiful lantern in my new apartment. It now is full of delightful memories of a weekend challenge, and a best friend better than I could ever ask for.

People are like stained – glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within. -Elisabeth Kubler-Ross


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