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I need to use a number of lanterns, to write something with it!

I would like to use a light material which will bind the lanterns together (separated by space) so it looks like dotted letter.

I know that lanterns will lift up like helium balloon, but I don't know if I can think of a material which will be strong enough to not ruin/mis-shape the letter (one letter at a time), but not heavy enough to stop the lanterns from raising up or causing harm to life on earth (people mainly) when they fall back down to earth (gently).

I hope I have given all the variables for the above.

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closed as off topic by Sklivvz, Manishearth Jan 4 '13 at 19:14

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Balsa wood? It has the advantages of being biodegradable and not harmful to animals. (The latter can be a real problem with lanterns made with wire frames.) –  Nathaniel Jan 4 '13 at 12:15
That sounds good, looked into it, and it has good strength and lightness ratio the question is joints, I can't use nails, I could use thread could I not? –  Val Jan 4 '13 at 12:27
What about wood glue? –  Nathaniel Jan 4 '13 at 12:28
right, that sounds good too, do you think that by gluing the lanterns to the balsa sheets, to form a letter could work in theory? –  Val Jan 4 '13 at 12:35
of course this sheet would not be massive thin enough like a small strip or something just to keep lanterns relative distance from one another. –  Val Jan 4 '13 at 12:38

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For a very light material with sufficient strength, I would suggest balsa wood, held together with wood glue. This has the additional advantages of being biodegradable and of not being harmful to animals. (The latter can be a real problem with lanterns made with wire frames.) You can probably glue the lanterns to balsa wood struts to hold them in the shape of letters, though I imagine it will take a bit of experimentation to work out how to construct something that is strong, stable and light enough.

If you want a structure with some thickness, so that it's visible, you could make it out of paper (lanterns are traditionally made of rice paper), glued onto the balsa frame. This might also help with keeping the structure stable, but of course would also add to the weight.

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