Fall Luminary: Make a Melted Wax Lantern

Make a Fall Luminary from leaves and melted crayons. Not only are these beautiful, but the processes of collecting leaves, peeling crayons, and melting the wax with an iron are sure to capture a child’s attention.

Make a Lantern with Melted Crayons, Leaves, and Wax Paper!

fall luminary: make a melted wax lanternLuminaries are perfect for brightening a crisp autumn evening, and a crafty way to explore this season when leaves turn brilliant colors, the rosy twilight falls more quickly, and families the world over traditionally give thanks for the harvest.

Supply List

  • Inspiring Fall picture books
  • Leaves, not too crunchy
  • Old crayons for melting
  • Wax Paper
  • Mason Jar
  • String
  • Spray bottle with water
  • Old dish towels or fabric
  • Iron/Ironing Board

You might start by reading a book that poetically investigates the unique things of autumn, such as Lois Ehlert’s Leaf Man…

fall luminary: make a melted wax lantern

or Lauren Thompson’s Mouse’s First Fall

Mouse's First Fall


Ask your child if they would like to make a colorful fall luminary, choosing materials from outside and around the house.

fall luminary: make a melted wax lantern

Step 1:

  • Wander around outside, and notice how the leaves have turned a multitude of colors and have gotten crunchy.
  • Choose leaves that have fallen off of trees, but are not too dry and can still lay flat.  If leaves are very curly, you may consider pressing them in a heavy book for a few days, before using them. 
  • Bring your collection inside and onto a table.
fall luminary: make a melted wax lantern

Step 2:

  • Find a clean mason jar that will serve as the structure for your luminary. 
  • Measure the mason jar’s circumference with sting.
  • Cut a wax paper strip that is long enough to fit around it.
fall luminary: make a melted wax lantern

Step 3:

  • Gather crayons of your favorite colors.  
  • Lanterns for the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival are often inspired by butterflies, so any hue goes!  
  • Unwrap the paper covering the crayons.
  • Shave the crayons lengthwise over the wax paper, with a serrated knife or vegetable peeler.  If your child isn’t old enough to wield the knife, they could choose the crayon, the location, and how much pigment they’d like you to shave off.

Step 4:

  • Place leaves over the crayon shavings, and feel free to add more shavings on top. 
  • Explain that the crayon wax will melt, and those little crumbs will become puddles of color.  Experiment with composition, and with layering the leaves and shavings.
fall luminary: make a melted wax lantern

Step 5:

  • Set up your ironing board and turn on the iron (If you’re not experienced with this, here’s one of many online ironing tutorials). 
  • On your ironing board, place a flat, thin cloth (the crayon wax will probably bleed through the wax paper a bit, so use scrap fabric and not “good” cloth).
  • Then, carefully place your wax paper with the leaves and shavings. 
  • Over this, put a blank sheet of wax paper, of around the same size. 
  • Layer on another thin cloth, and smooth out the wrinkles with your fingers.  Spritz the top layer evenly with water from a spray bottle, and now you’re ready to iron. 
  • Flatten out the wrinkles and iron both sides of the wax paper “sandwich.”

Step 6:

  • After waiting a few minutes for the wax paper to cool, peel away the cloth. 
  • Measure your mason jar again, and cut the wax paper so that it fits around the jar.
  • Tape or tie a ribbon around it to hold the paper in place.
fall luminary: make a melted wax lantern

Step 7:

  • When it gets dark outside, drop a candle into your mason jar, and ignite it with a long lighter. 
  • The brilliant, glowing colors and winding lines of the leaves will surely be a cozy centerpiece for your family to gather around, and is an excellent reminder to be grateful for the season.
Amanda E. Gross_headshot

Amanda Gross designs curricula to guide and inspire children, teens, and adults to appreciate art and to create!  She earned a Master’s of Arts in Teaching from The Rhode Island School of Design and is an instructor at Academy of Art University.  Amanda is also an illustrator, painter, DIY crafter, and permaculture enthusiast. Find out more about Amanda here: Art Curricula Website and Art Portfolio Website


    • This would be a super-fun Brownie activity. Great idea, Megan!

    • My father-in-law just emailed me to say we should do this for Christmas, so there you go! We would love this too!

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