Whether your lantern has just started to soften and sag, or your cat has mistaken it for a comfy sleeping spot, the following steps will restore your lantern to its former glory.
You will need:
hand hot water
a tea towel/ drying rack
Sit your lantern on a flat surface.
Inflate the balloon inside the lantern. The idea is that when you have inflated the balloon and tied a knot in the end, the knot will be roughly in the middle of the lantern opening. The curved top of the balloon gives the curved shape to the base of the lantern. When inflating the balloon it is important that the walls of that lantern should be taut over the balloon to avoid too many wrinkles, but not so tight that it puts pressure on the neck of the lantern. But there is no need to be overly precious.
Now we need to wet the wool. I always use hand hot water to wet the wool first and just a touch of olive oil soap. (You can use a little of whatever hand/ dish soap you have by the sink.) Agitate the wool gently, make gentle circular movements across the surface of the felt for 1 or 2 minutes. Trial and error has taught me that if you apply too much pressure you can end up forcing the balloon to bulge on the opposite side to the one you are rubbing and because the wool is wet, it can stretch the shape.
Rinse all of the soap out of the wool. This one needs to be done with cold water. Turn the cold tap on to a slow steady flow and holding the lantern close to the spout of the tap allow the fresh water to gently displace all of the soapy water.
Leave your lantern to dry. Apply some gentle pressure to press some excess water out or pat with a clean, dry tea towel and then it’s up to you. You can leave your lantern on a windowsill, on the radiator ( if you have the sort of radiator that has two raised lines across the top you will get lines in the bottom of you lantern, but there are worse things that can happen!) or you could also dry them upside down by resting them in a bowl. How long they take to dry will depend on so many things – how much you patted them dry, how thick they are, how warm the room is. I guess the best advice I could give you is don’t dry them with a hair dryer but don’t let them stay wet for so long that they start to smell like a damp sheep.
Pop the balloon and your lantern will be as proudly upstanding as the first day it was made.
If I haven’t made the process clear, or you’ve tried this and think I’ve missed something out please let me know, I’m only to happy to help and am always on the look out for new hints and tips!