Laser cut medieval-inspired lantern

Finished medieval-style lantern / candle holder

Finished medieval-style lantern / candle holder

Back in 2015 I posted about a medieval-inspired lantern that I made using photo frames and velum. Since I now have access to the laser cutter through the MakerSpace, I decided that it might be nice to try a similar project with this tool instead. 

Like my previous project, this wasn’t highly researched. I mostly just wanted something that would work with a flameless candle for events, and have a general ‘medieval’ theme, rather than something that was an attempt an an accurate reproduction of an extant piece. There are several painted images as well as some extant finds and other artisan’s versions on my Pinterest,

Direct link from Pinterest -

Direct link from Pinterest

My main inspiration was this lantern/candle holder which appears to be from the Gottorf Castle in the German city of Schleswig? Darn Pinterest leading nowhere useful…

However, while the three visible sides from this image all seem to have slightly different designs, I went with all one design. Likewise, one of the six sides on the original is hinged with leather, with I suspect a little latch on the far side – my version does not have an open side.  The original also is held together with nails, rather than glue. The original has some kind of interior to keep the candle from blowing out – likely horn or some other translucent material – but mine does not. The top of this lantern seems about two or three times as thick as the sides, and the sides layer over the top (and bottom) to accommodate the opening, rather than the other way around like mine.

However, given the quality of this lantern, I greatly suspect that it’s a modern replica, rather than a medieval original. I suspect that it’s an interpretation of this lantern

Direct link from Pinterest -

Direct link from Pinterest

… which unfortunately is also a Pinterest dead-end. This one also appears to have six sides with different shapes on the three visible sides. It also appears to have a hinge created by a scrap of leather, is assembled with nails, and also may have some interior translucent material.

This lantern is noted as the “Medieval lantern from Lübeck”, but I wasn’t able to find any additional information on it. However, Craig from Manning Imperial did his own interpretation and published it through his Facebook page. He states that it’s a 15th century artefact, but has no other information. He made his with oak, and lined the panels with thin rawhide oiled with linseed oil.

With so little information – there’s also no information about how tall or wide these lanterns are.

My version

I designed my lantern in Adobe Illustrator, with 6 sides that are all the same. I also drafted a top with a similar design in the top, and two bases. One has a cut out to hold the tealight candle, and one is solid. On the bottom I had the laser cutter engrave my SCA name and location as well.

I cut it out on the laser cutter in 1/4″ baltic birch – mostly because that’s what the Maker Studio supervisor said works really well. Once it was cut, I sanded it, and then used my Dremel and sander to create angled edges on the sides so that they would fit together better. This was a little trial and error, and I did have to go back and shave down the last one a little more at the end.

Assembly was pretty simple, using wood glue to attach the two bottom pieces together, and then attach the sides together and to the bottom. I then used wood filler on the interior ‘seams’ to fill in any of the little gaps. I didn’t really love the way this worked, and if I did it again I would likely try to use a paintbrush or something small to be more precise with filling the gaps. Or, alternately I would line the panels with a translucent material so the wood filler wouldn’t be visible.

Medieval-style lantern / candle holder before adhering the top to the main part.

Medieval-style lantern / candle holder before adhering the top to the main part.

I had a number of different wooden items that I was working on at the same time, so opted to stain them all the same. I really wanted to use the Mahogany stain I had used on some of my previous wood projects – but my Mahogany was very thick, and so I mixed in some Tudor stain as well – so the result is kind of half-and-half. I definitely need to pick up more Mahogany stain.

For now I’ve opted not to varnish it. The finish is very matte, which I kind of like for now… though if I go on another staining binge with other wooden items I might still varnish it later.

Once the main area and top were both stained and dry, I used wood glue to adhere the top to the sides. This means the candle can be lowered in through the top, or from the sides –  the top is not removable, and unlike my two inspiration images, the side does not open.

Once assembled, the finished lantern is 15cm wide at the widest point (from hexagon point to point) and 21.5cm tall.

Finished medieval-style lantern / candle holder

Finished medieval-style lantern / candle holder

Next steps

If I opt to make another version of this, I might make it a bit smaller (a tealight candle probably doesn’t need such a large lantern). The 1545 Mary Rose lantern is apparently 12″ tall (approx 30cm), still taller than my lantern at 21.5cm, however that was likely intended for a taper candle rather than a tealight.

For a future version I might also try to hinge a side, would add holes in the top for a hanging cord or chain, and would possibly look into some material to line the panels. I don’t know if I can find horn, but some other material might work. Although the inspiration images used nails for assembly, this isn’t something that I think I would do… I’m not sure though…

Finished medieval-style lantern / candle holder

Finished medieval-style lantern / candle holder

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Finished medieval-style lantern / candle holder. Visit Dawn's Dress Diary to learn more.Want to see more of the projects I’m working on? If you are a WordPress user, consider hitting the subscribe button! If not, you can always follow me at Dawn’s Dress Diary on Facebook, or see more of my work-in-progress photos on Instagram.

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