Making a Lantern Ornament


You’ve seen this sterling silver lantern featured in my latest project The Muse of Art Nouveau. I’ve been wanting to make a tiny lantern for doll ornamentation for a year or so before I was finally able to find the time and put the work into making it.


My sketch was heavily inspired by an actual street lantern in Nice. When I saw it, it took my breath away and I resolved to make a little replica of it. I think I have a thing for lamps and lightscaping, because my place is lit by over a dozen different table lamps. I really hate the harsh ceiling lights, and prefer the warm, muted glow of lamp-lit interiors.


I made detailed schematics for computer rendering. If the scale allowed it, I would have carved it myself, but I found it impossible to translate the richness of the ornamentation of the original into a miniature scale with my human hands. In some ways it was harder than just getting right down to it and carving away, because instead of working organically and relying on my own instincts and my hand-to-eye coordination, I had to approach it from a geometric and mathematical standpoint. I had to transcribe the shape from my imagination as accurately as possible, to make the technician understand exactly what I had in mind.


In some ways, working out the precise measurements of each part was pure torture. Every few hours I would find a mistake in the proportional calculations, lose my composure, curse and yell at the graph paper in frustration, throw my pen against the wall and curl into an upright fetal position in my chair, rocking and crying quietly. Then I would put myself back together and begin measuring and drafting my model all over again.


When the model was finally built, molding it was another can of worms while nearly half of the models fail to cast properly due to the extremely technical casting, but I really love the result and the effort that went into creating it. I had made one into a pendant for myself to wear. I frequently catch myself touching it and pretending that the tiny lantern is some sort of an ancient talisman which allows one to see things hidden from human eyes as it illuminates a path through the dark maze of its wearer’s subconsciousness.

49 Responses to “Making a Lantern Ornament”

  1. Justine
    April 18th, 2012 20:13

    Beautiful! The lantern can be an indispensible fashion piece… it really would give you a unique aura as you strud the streets. I can see why you would wear it around. :)

  2. Hannah
    April 18th, 2012 20:34

    Beautiful at the most and a saviour in the dark maze.

  3. Jody
    April 18th, 2012 21:00

    Amazing details! Your patience astounds!
    I can barely keep it together long enough while working on my sons’ lego directions! LOL!
    Bravo. You are a star.

  4. Jeanne
    April 18th, 2012 21:12

    Fabulous work on your new lantern, truly elegant in every way as all of your work is. Your time and effort and precise detail brings so much intrigue to everyone that sees it. Your journal as you venture into each piece is truly inspiring to read. I hope to own one of your books some day. My dreams can only imagine owning one of your dolls, they are the best! Thank you for sharing in your journeys.

  5. MollyTheWanderer
    April 18th, 2012 21:25

    I would love to see this made just a little bit larger and have stained glass panels. Maybe make it in two pieces and have a hinge put on so you could have a little box. I love it.

  6. Marina
    April 18th, 2012 21:28

    Larger, you say?
    Funny you bring it up…
    Well, guess what? I’ve got just the thing for you. ;)

  7. Hazel
    April 18th, 2012 21:28

    Amazing! As I said, this is my most favorite head ornament from you! It’s so beautiful and ornate for something so tiny.

  8. Jon Songserm
    April 18th, 2012 22:01

    Lantern is always my favorite, when I’m travel or visit any place I love to take a picture of them+

    And I would love to see you apply it with strain glass too.

  9. Sabina
    April 18th, 2012 22:24

    I love it when you do posts like this about your working process! Just stunning

  10. Puppit
    April 18th, 2012 23:49

    The pendant is gorgious but actually, I like the drawing even better… *dont’t hit me!*

  11. Marina
    April 18th, 2012 23:59


    How dare you…


  12. Amoreen
    April 19th, 2012 00:09

    Wow, Marina… I love the way you talk about you work and every story that lies beind it. I think the sketches are so beautiful! Do you make them with pencil? They are so meticulous and full of details! The idea of Molly to have it as a pendant exicetes me very much, even more than shoes. Marina, what would you say?

  13. Hane
    April 19th, 2012 00:55

    Absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!!

  14. Glynis
    April 19th, 2012 00:56

    Where on earth do you get your patience from!!?? It is truly beautiful.

  15. Orangey
    April 19th, 2012 01:13

    The type of work you do is only for the brave. The extremely brave. Just thinking about it makes me quiver, haha. The result is astounding!! Such incredible work~

  16. Ama
    April 19th, 2012 01:29

    Marina, I’d love to see your “human-hand”-carved version of this tiny lantern, even if it would mean loosing a few details. :)

  17. Ama
    April 19th, 2012 01:32

    Oh I forgot : marvellously precious tiny lamp…and such hard work behind it ! ♥ it’s a pleasure to look at it.

  18. Rux
    April 19th, 2012 01:43

    wow…….it’s amazing !!!

  19. Glynis
    April 19th, 2012 03:20

    Second look – amazing! Your post reminds me of an article I read about a composer who said, once the music was in his head it wouldn’t let him rest,eat or sleep until it came to “life,” sounds as though you go through the same process, must be totally exhausting!! but once it’s done, what’s it like to see your imagination come to life? Good,great or just glad it’s done!!??

  20. Silvana
    April 19th, 2012 04:26


  21. Amal
    April 19th, 2012 05:27

    It’s like our ‘fanoos’ – the Arabs have a thing for lanterns too (beyond that of Aladdin!!). It’s often a symbol of hope and celebration. During Ramadan, the dilapidated streets of even the poorest communities are lined with the cheap and cheerful, plastic versions. In alleys where the houses are so close together, you can literally shake hands with your neighbours across the balconies. In the early hours, a town-crier bangs his drum in passing, calling to the households by name in order to wake people in time to eat something before fasting begins at dawn…

    I love this. It couldn’t be more perfect. Can’t I have one?! ^O^

  22. Christiane (Quebec)#24
    April 19th, 2012 05:31

    Yes would like to hear more about the larger lantern so that we could put stain glass?…..please to say what it is…

    And Marina thank you for saying which one would be the closest to the life size doll… I have to sacrifice (Edie) the Butterfly and cut her out of the book, so that I could have a life size paper doll…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..NOT hell no!

  23. Janie
    April 19th, 2012 06:09

    I would be really curious to hear about your choice of a ball chain to hang the lantern on – it seems like a real departure from your general style!

  24. Kate
    April 19th, 2012 07:39

    larger? larger? *grin*

    Beautiful! I can’t believe how intricate that is… how’s your relationship with your technician afterwards? hehe

  25. The Old Maid
    April 19th, 2012 08:15

    I do still hope you will make lantern pendants for sale one day, Marina.:)

  26. Eva
    April 19th, 2012 09:15

    This is amazing. I agree with some of the other folks on here. I would love to buy a lantern pendant to wear. :)

  27. Isabel Pacheco
    April 19th, 2012 09:16

    Absolutely Beautiful, very beautiful :)

  28. Katie
    April 19th, 2012 09:41

    So beautiful!! If you ever decided to sell them as pendants *ahem* ;) I would definitely buy one right away! You’re so talented! It just amazes me what you keep creating. :)

  29. Gaietta
    April 19th, 2012 10:10

    Hi!!! it’s gorgeus!!! why don’t put a pearl o somewhatelse into it?? to catch the light.. <3

  30. Aeroksana
    April 19th, 2012 10:36

    Friends, just imagine! Allow your imagination to paint a romantic picture – this cleverly made excellent work lantern pendant has mysteriously shimmering nontransparent glass and suddenly, with a graceful movement it opens and …we see what is stored inside – the charming coiled strand of hair of a beloved person…Oh!
    Dear Marina, you really inspire :) In a sign of respect I am doing a curtsy :)

  31. Sue
    April 19th, 2012 10:49

    Beautiful lantern. Love the talisman and when you said this: “as it illuminates a path through the dark maze of its wearer’s subconsciousness.”
    the beauty of that sentence took my breath away.

  32. Aeroksana
    April 19th, 2012 10:51

    The pendant is beautiful and without glass panels, of course. The only thing that maybe it would be nice to add a jewel in the form of droplet inside the lantern, as the image of the light source. But, everything is fine and with no additions :)
    I would wear it without taking off!

  33. Julianna
    April 19th, 2012 11:19

    Breath-taking! I love it when you share your design process, it’s so cool to see your sketches and schematics!

  34. giperborea
    April 19th, 2012 13:14

    Yes, a pendant and a large lantern too!!! Please))))))

  35. giperborea
    April 19th, 2012 13:15

    I think the ball chain fits nicely with the lantern – its design also has little “balls” or “dots”.

  36. Annina
    April 19th, 2012 14:10

    really beautiful, and mindblowing work!
    i too would think it lovely to have a lantern pendant!

  37. Annina
    April 19th, 2012 14:13

    darn, pressed submit to soon.
    wanted to add:

    this would be an amazing pendant to have on a really long chain, so it hangs down to around your belly button, or maybe a liiittle above..
    just thinking aloud. (and imagining myself with it)

  38. kelly
    April 19th, 2012 19:23

    Awesome as always. You nnever fail to come up with something more amazing than the last. I am amused, you and I have similar working habits -frustration, cursing, fetal position, resuming work after all that… :)

  39. Sabrina
    April 19th, 2012 19:40

    Is the pendant lantern a little larger than the two on the Muse’s crown?

  40. Christiane (Quebec)#24
    April 19th, 2012 20:11

    Gaietta I think your idea is a great one, but I would also like to have a lantern with a Swarovki gem that would make the light sparkle…….this could end up being very pricey….

  41. Merri
    April 19th, 2012 21:44

    Ooh! It looks like Molly has wandered into another Marina mystery! Looking forward to the next revelation!

    I just love intricate detail, so of course I adore the new lanterns. I really like the ideas some others have put forward about hanging a jewell or pearl inside.
    Marina, aside from your artistic talent, the things I admire most about you are your work ethic and your fierce determination to achieve your creative goal, no matter how difficult!

  42. Crystal
    April 20th, 2012 19:10

    It would be cool to have a little doll shaped flame inside.

  43. Lean
    April 20th, 2012 20:17

    Amazing work of art! I think it was worth the hard work!

  44. Sylvia
    April 20th, 2012 22:27

    I would love this with classic yellow Lanternglass (and wrought iron would be great aswell) and please make this into pendants for sale so i can get one.

  45. Sailor orbit
    April 21st, 2012 12:46

    Are you going to sell lantern pendants?

  46. Line
    April 24th, 2012 06:55

    Hi Marina

    I was just wondering if you had sendt out all the books yet? Looking so much forward to seeing it in the mail :)

  47. Katy
    April 28th, 2012 22:35

    It is absolutely unbelievably beautiful thing!!!!
    From what material is it?

  48. waterrose
    April 30th, 2012 13:45

    How amazing and what beautiful detail. I so admire your work.

  49. Ruth Park
    May 7th, 2012 01:41

    Absolutely Beautiful!!!!