The “Fú” 福 character has graced the entrances of Chinese homes for many hundreds of New Year’s. It is said to have originated not just for its meaning of happiness and luck, but also because “upside down” and “to arrive” sound alike when spoken in Chinese, thus making an upside down Fú equate to “good luck arrives”. (For some, however, hanging the Fu upside down is bad luck, so I’ve decided to make the character right side up on my printable boxes!) Use them as favor containers, table crayon corrals, or cut out the character to make an LED lantern or luminaria. Use the cut-out character to easily embellish a bamboo lantern. I’ll demonstrate this along with how to paint a modern lion Fú-dog statuette to make it look like an antique.
To make your own favor take out boxes or lanterns, simply right click on the small image and select print. Print them on a photo and color setting. One page makes one box, so just print as many copies as boxes you need.
Next you need to cut out the black boxes… this is a great time to enlist help from the family!
To make the paper lanterns, you will want to cut out the Chinese character before gluing the box together. Use an x-acto knife if you’re brave… I always seem to slice my thumb with these so I opt for rougher cuts using scissors. Simply poke a little hole with the pointy tip of a pen, compass point, or scissor tip then use it as a pilot hole to begin cutting each section of the character out. (If you’re short on time, just skip the cutting + vellum part and place an LED tea-light inside an open box. They still look adorable this way.)
The paper lanterns, with the cut out characters, glow when little squares of vegan vellum are glued to the underside/inside of the boxes. Use the photo to check how the “Fú” 福 character is supposed to look like from the outside, and place that outside edge down onto your working surface. Cut a piece of vegan vellum to fit the box’s side and cover the character completely. Use a permanent glue stick along the edges of the vellum and place it over the character face down. Press it down flat to adhere it fully.
To make both the favor boxes and the paper lanterns, glue the tabs to the sides with a permanent glue stick. Use the photos as visual reference for how to do this. Note that 2 sides will be wider than the others. These should be glued opposite to each other, so that a narrow side is in between each.
Glue all of the sides, and leave the top free to be filled with crayons, good luck candies, fortune cookies, LED tea-lights, or even small condiment bowls for sauces… just let your creativity run with these! Just try to let them dry well before loading them up with goodies. I let mine sit overnight, and they became super sturdy.
I stacked some of the paper lanterns onto a vintage brass tea-light holder and stuck in paper dragon favor puppets to heighten the spectacle… with no expectation that the centerpiece would stay intact long! Crayon filled favor boxes sat at the base of the structure to be used on Chinese New Year coloring pages. (See more from the Chinese New Year of the Sheep / Ram Party Décor Ideas (With Formal Table Setting & Kid’s Table.)
The top of the tower held an inexpensive bamboo lantern that I painted to coordinate with the theme’s colors.
Simple red acrylic craft paint covered the whole structure well.
Gold paint made the handle and base appear as a richer metallic surface.
I glued a cut out “Fú” 福 character to a strip of vegan vellum with a permanent glue stick. You may use the red symbol cut from the printable, or just use it as a template to draw by with black marker, or cut out a black character from cardstock.
This strip can then be set into any clear votive cup… lantern or not! It doesn’t even need to be glued or taped. The vellum just expands to fit the glass securely. Using LED lights insures that no fire will catch the paper, even if knocked over… so it’s super kid and pet safe.
The best part is that I retain the option of removing the vellum strip and repainting the lanterns for a new color scheme in the future. I just love redoing and reusing… it’s so much better than merely recycling!
I also set a lantern onto the side table of the formal tablescape. (The bamboo lanterns originally came from Cost Plus World Market for a few dollars on clearance. See the sidebar for coupons and free shipping links.)
The powerful guardian lion Fú-dog is a traditional Chinese figure of protection. The one seen here is male because he’s resting a paw on a ball that represents the earth. Usually they are presented in pairs, but I only had one in a bright lime green color. I simply had to antique it!
I began to turn the resin into metal by first using a gold Rub-n-Buff paint all over its surface. I gently wiped away the excess and let it set for a couple of days. Then I used a paper towel to rub/shine it up.
Next I coated that layer with the same red acrylic craft paint that I used on the lantern. I gently wiped off the excess, leaving an interesting pattern of color… green, gold, and red.
I let that dry overnight, then took some bronze glazing paint (called Elegant Finish by Deco Art) and coated the whole piece. I really gently dapped at the piece in spots to lightly remove some of the paint. For any of you who have ragged a wall, this is similar to that technique. I let that dry for another night.
The last layer is the one you actually have to pay attention to. It requires plain old black acrylic craft paint and a really messed up “scruffy brush”. Never throw away those brushes that your loved ones mess up, don’t wash well, and leave in a horrible condition… they are your new besties. They’re great if you barely dip them into paint, pounce off the excess onto a paper towel, then “stipple” paint onto your surface. This is a sort of haphazard pouncing of the brush perpendicularly to the piece. It’s the easiest way to paint an antique looking surface… and it’s actually a lot of fun.
I took this statuette from lime lion to antique guardian in a few simple steps. You can do the same with any accessory that doesn’t quite match your décor, or looks a bit cheaper than you’d like. This is especially great to do when you see a fantastic find on clearance that just has a ding or two… paint it up! You will have created your own one-of-a-kind upcycled beauty that will have people thinking it’s an antique.
Happy crafting in the New Year!