Published on August 10, 2019

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You keep a Sharpie on hand to label the occasional box, but have you ever thought to use one to transform a light fixture? Erin Walsh had the bright idea. With a simple black marker, the New York fashion stylist turned two ordinary white paper lanterns in her prewar Brooklyn Heights apartment into bona fide works of art—one a Basquiat-esque rendition with scribbled words and phrases like See you later, alligator and Hasta la vista, baby; the other a big abstract swirl. 

Great minds think alike: Our brand partnerships visuals director, Meghan McNeer, gave her own lantern a very similar treatment. And she revealed this DIY is as straightforward as it looks. All you need is a Sharpie and a paper shade (IKEA’s $4.99 Regolit pendant is perfect for this!), and you’re in business. 

“I was at one of my favorite local restaurants, Wei Williamsburg, and one of the owners is an artist and had Sharpie-d a small part of a lantern with a sort of seismograph design,” recalls McNeer. “I thought about these one-line drawings I used to do in middle school, and I was like, ‘I should do that to a lantern.’” Here, McNeer shares what to expect when you attempt the craft yourself. 

Have More Than One Marker Available

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photo by meghan mcneer

If you’re going for a more elaborate design or coloring in a large shape like Walsh did, one of your pens will likely run out of steam midway through. For her continuous spiral, McNeer ended up using two Sharpies. The good news: A pack of 12 costs only $8 (and you have the entire color spectrum to choose from!).

Block Out an Afternoon

“It took way longer than I expected,” shares McNeer. “Find something bingeable to watch or a solid podcast to listen to while you draw.” 

Use a Light Hand

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photo by meghan mcneer

The good news: “Sharpies don’t naturally bleed on the paper,” says McNeer, so you won’t have to worry about smudging your masterpiece. The bad news: It’s pretty easy to punch a hole through it. Be gentle and note that a re-creation of Jackson Pollock’s Autumn Rhythm might not be the best choice. 

Now dig deep into your junk drawer, grab a fine-point marker, and let your imagination do the rest. 

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These Clever IKEA Hacks Will Transform Your Bedroom
How to Make an Herb Garden Planter–The IKEA Hack Way