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Light Columns

Geometric "topiaries" inspired by the paper sculptures of Isamu Noguchi stand on both sides of this swimming pool. A few white plastic beach balls tied to weighted lines float in the pool like pearls cut loose from a giant strand (for safety, never cover the surface of a pool with a large number of balls).




  • Bamboo stick or dowel, 6 feet long and 1 inch in diameter
  • 50-bulb string of lights
  • Paper lanterns (ours were 14 inches in diameter)


  1. Step 1

    Purchase a bamboo stick or dowel that's 6 feet long and 1 inch in diameter. Drive the pole deep into the ground until it's solidly anchored. Run a 50-bulb string of lights up one side of the pole and down the other, securing it with masking tape.

  2. Step 2

    Stack paper lanterns (ours were 14 inches in diameter) over the stick. Secure the lanterns to each other with tape. Note: If you intend to place these fixtures by a swimming pool, it is imperative that you plug the lights into GFCI outlets and use extension cords approved for outdoor use.

Martha Stewart Living, July 2006



Reviews (35)

  • Alex George 3 Jan, 2014

    From this idea, we can make the pillar of these paper lanterns and it will look definitely unique and gorgeous in the party and wedding events. The good thing of this kind of decoration is that it requires very less things to decorate only paper lanterns, bamboo stick and a tape. You can get decorative paper lanterns from online shop named Just Artifacts. Visit here

  • imisswhitney 5 Jun, 2009

    I found silver balls at target and they looked fab!!

  • marthainspirit 21 Oct, 2008

    The white balls that are floating in the pool are usually found in toy departments at discount stores like walmart. I have found them at dollar stores as well.

  • maryann07055 30 Sep, 2008

    They are not white beach balls they are paper lanters and you can get those at Ikea fairly cheaply

  • margaret70403 17 Sep, 2008

    Where do you get the white beach balls?

  • CreativeKara 31 Aug, 2008

    This looks like a lot of fun to make and sounds easy enough. I'm going to take the idea and either use different color lights (halloween) with the white lanterns or make colored lanterns (black, purple, orange) with white lights for an spooky lit way through our Haunted Forest in the backyard.

  • KaraAnn 30 Aug, 2008

    I am going to take this idea and run with it for our wedding dinner/dance decorations! We are using a large gym space with no romantic lighting at all (overhead flourescent lighting only). I plan to purchase large flowerpots (on sale this fall) to secure the upright bamboo support pole (with spray foam can will be lightweight). It will surely give a very romantic feel to the room.

  • jnapier 29 Aug, 2008

    I get paper lanterns from Found the online store listed as a source for other Martha crafts, and have loved ordering from them. Fast and reasonable.

  • jnapier 29 Aug, 2008

    I get the lanterns from I also ordered bamboo steamers from, and fast!

  • ebbbfazzie 29 Aug, 2008

    Martha Stewart brand makes these globes (I just bought a set of three with eyelets) that are available in the craft section near the wedding supplies at Walmart.

  • salanie 29 Aug, 2008

    If you live by a Dollar Tree store, they carry paper lanterns in all colors, for of course..a dollar.

  • terivanhecke 29 Aug, 2008

    This is so pretty and so simple - I can think of many other applications, since I don't have a pool - what a way to welcome guests in front of the house -"Hey, the party's here!"

  • SoupAddict 29 Aug, 2008

    Luna Bazaar ( has a great selection of paper lanterns. I bought dozens to decorate for my mom's birthday party this summer -- they arrived fast and in great shape.

  • tinkonthebrink 29 Aug, 2008

    These are also lovely indoors, hanging from the ceiling.

  • naoko53 29 Aug, 2008

    Okay, I don't have a time and money to do this kind of thing. It's kind of not so practical lol. but beautiful for sure!
    I think you can get these lanterns at any interior decor stores. I've also seen some at discount stores.

  • carole7 29 Aug, 2008

    How much do these lanterns cost? What a neat idea!


  • tfair35000 29 Aug, 2008

    Ikea...for the laterns.

  • kraftgg 29 Aug, 2008

    You can purchase white and colors from Oriental Trader, eBay, Pier 1, etc.

  • kiaramc 29 Aug, 2008

    I just bought 13 beautifully colored lanterns for our wedding from
    They were quick, everything came intact and a real person called me back when I had a question.

    I chose to get 5 LED light fixtures inside each so they can be battery powered all night long.

  • 1234sana 29 Aug, 2008

    This is very nice, very soft decorations. I love it. As for where to buy the lanterns, check it out on Martha Stewart's Products (look in the Our Products on the side screen panel), store like Michaels, and any craft stores in your areas. Have Fun. I'm going to do this for my daughter's 16th birthday party. Great Idea!!!

  • ebryson 29 Aug, 2008

    Cost Plus, Pier 1 and Ikea all have paper lanterns.

  • Booya 29 Aug, 2008

    I'm on a hunt for the lanterns. Only place I have ever seen them is at Pier 1 - I will keep watching and see if another contributor finds them before I do. I want to use this for our Halloween back yard bonfire....

  • ruthannwachsmuth 29 Aug, 2008

    a simple google for "Paper Lanterns" yielded over 700,000 hits.

  • mommies 29 Aug, 2008

    These would be great for Halloween, with black light strands.

  • sarakratz 29 Aug, 2008

    I've ordered from Google on "paper lanterns" and you'll find tons of sources. Good luck.

  • Kdavis7 29 Aug, 2008

    You can get the lanterns at World Market and sometimes at Pier 1

  • 3MMM 29 Aug, 2008

    try pearl river

  • SCARLETTinFL 29 Aug, 2008

  • hoedoe 29 Aug, 2008

    If anyone does come acroos a source for these lanterns...please email me!

  • debjouette 29 Aug, 2008

    Where can I purchase paper lanterns from?

  • jillmurtagh 29 Aug, 2008

    Okay, who's got a good source for these two items (paper globes and white beach balls)? I could totally do this for my cousin's back yard wedding.

  • Phoenixrzzg 29 Aug, 2008

    Great idea! In winter you could use Christmas lights! All kinds of possibilities! Don't have a pool, but will make a nice yard/patio decoration!!

  • jlynmcarthur 29 Aug, 2008

    Where do you get the lanterns?

  • tammyindiana 5 Jun, 2008

    This is simple and gorgeous decorating~~

  • 1Toffy 23 Apr, 2008

    I love this idea for my Summer Pool Activities. The Stack Lanterns especially. Easy and affordable.