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Feb 8, 2019 5:22 PM CST
"The Tropic of Trafford" (in (Zone 8a)
Japanese Maples Roses Region: United Kingdom
When I built our koi pool thirty years ago. I decided I wanted a Japanese lantern. I didn't like the ones available in garden centres as they either looked "stylised," of poor quality, or very expensive.

I wanted something that looked like "the real thing."

Like this one at the Katsura Imperial Villa in Japan, many hundreds of years old.

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So I decided to make one.

These constructions were made in my garage, of ready mixed fine concrete with an outer layer of sand and cement with added yellow dye to achieve a similar colour to our York stone patio. The cost was ridiculously cheap.

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The molds for each section were placed on a large piece of Contiplas so they did not stick. The base of the first lamp was made in a wooden former, (not shown) built up in layers with the mortar forced down the side of the concrete, a steel rod was inserted in the middle to centre the first "table."

I rounded off the corners with a file before it had completely gone off. The apertures in the sides of the windows were made from the plastic tubs shown. An ice cream tub was used to make a recess in the top to hold the lamp. The crown was made in situ as I kept the concrete and mortar only barely damp. (same consistency as you'd use to make a kid's sandcastle).

The second was more adventurous, a steel tube up the centre of the column carries the electric cable. A piece of weldmesh reinforces the front window. Each lamp took only a few hours to cast and mold. The passing years have had an unplanned authentic looking "weathering effect" on the outer mortar skin, simulating centuries of wear on real stone.

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Both lamps are illuminated by recycled 12v pool lamps

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The 6ft pagoda required seventeen molds, the veranda rails are of hardwood beading. It took me just under two weeks to complete, but only working a couple of hours each evening after work.

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Here's a bit more detail. As the outer skin is only mortar, the only way I could get a bit of detail, it has weathered a bit over the last thirty years, but it gets a coat of paint every five yeas which helps protect it.
It's had one since I took this photo.


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The simulated pin joints that supported the roofs can only be seen from below, but I was striving for authenticity, if only in concrete.

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I made the sorin from assortment of recycled drilled out brass cupboard handles, the top of a shaving foam canister, milk carton tops, a plastic stake, in which I drilled a lot of holes, a long threaded bolt, two nuts and a couple of beads

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"I don't mind if you don't like my manners, I don't like 'em myself. They're pretty bad. I grieve over them on long winter evenings." (Philip Marlowe to Vivian Rutledge).
Last edited by DoghouseRiley Feb 8, 2019 5:56 PM Icon for preview
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Feb 8, 2019 6:31 PM CST
Name: Karen
New Mexico (Zone 8a)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Region: Ukraine Cactus and Succulents Plant Identifier Plays in the sandbox
Greenhouse Bromeliad Adeniums Morning Glories Avid Green Pages Reviewer Brugmansias
Beautiful work! You're very talented.
Handcrafted Coastal Inspired Art SeaMosaics!
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Feb 9, 2019 7:52 AM CST
"The Tropic of Trafford" (in (Zone 8a)
Japanese Maples Roses Region: United Kingdom
plantmanager said:Beautiful work! You're very talented.


You're making me blush!
I'm not a builder, I'm a "self-taught handyman" (Well I was, I'm more into golf, vinyl jukeboxes, electric piano and tenor sax these days).
As a job I managed a succession of large superstores, it was all "sharp suits" highly polished shoes and creating budgets, in those days.

I've two videos of the lanterns, but I've not made enough posts to be allowed to link any, but they are easy to find on You Tube. Must be as they've had over 40,000 hits between them.

How to Make Authentic Looking Japanese Lanterns

Japanese Lanterns a DIY Project
"I don't mind if you don't like my manners, I don't like 'em myself. They're pretty bad. I grieve over them on long winter evenings." (Philip Marlowe to Vivian Rutledge).
Last edited by DoghouseRiley Feb 9, 2019 2:42 PM Icon for preview
Avatar for Edjebel
Feb 27, 2019 4:37 PM CST
Belgium; between Antwerp and T (Zone 8b)
Region: Europe
That will be an excellent example for my next koi pond to do it self. Nice i like it Thank You!
Avatar for tropicofcancer
Aug 11, 2020 10:24 AM CST
Name: tropicofcancer
SW-PA (Zone 6b)
I joined recently and found your post cruising various forums. It is really an excellent job. I will look your youtube video since I definitely would like to make something like your japanese lantern to start with. I have dabbled in hypertufa mixes before and I think I will try with that instead of concrete. Thanks for sharing.
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Nov 17, 2020 11:03 AM CST
(Zone 9b)
Very creative. Well done. I tip my hat to you.
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