In the long, dark autumn evenings, we often find ourselves playing with light: puppet theatre performances, glow-in-the dark toys, lamps and lanterns occupy our rooms. We worked on these easy-to-make lamps over the last couple of days to decorate the house for Halloween.
Update: Check this tutorial for making Christmas lanterns!
– jars of different sizes and shapes
– a can of purple spray paint (I used Krylon Purple Aerosol Paint)
– paint marker (I used Uchida Deco Color Fine Point Paint Marker)
It was especially fun to hunt for the jars. I wanted them to be different, so the biggest one used to hold pickles, and a couple of smaller ones had jams. What a turn of fate for them to become lanterns! The medium jar was standard sealer intended for home canning. It had a raised design in the glass, but I turned it to the back. At least, it did not have labels! All the rest of the jars had to be submerged in a sink full of very hot water for a while, then scrubbed to get their pickle and jam labels off.
1. Clean your jars thoroughly as any oily residue will interfere with painting.
2. Spray paint the outsides of the jars. The jars need to stay translucent, so start with a thin layer of paint. Once it is dry, drop a candle inside of one jar and see how the light comes through. If you think that one layer of paint was not enough, you can add another thin layer.
3. If you use our design, print it and insert into the jar. Trace it with a marker. If you make your own design, it may be a better idea to sketch it on a piece of paper first and then insert the piece into the jar anyway. But confident young artists may want to paint right on the jar.
4. I used this black fine point paint marker for tracing the picture on glass. It worked well. In the past I also tried acrylic paints, and they should work as well. There are probably other options, so it is good to experiment!
Now it is time to put some candles in and add some illumination to the room!
Budster was giddy over the lanterns, and it was touching to watch him alternate between dancing with excitement and staring in wonder! He cooed over them as if they were babies. Right away he learned the word “candle”, or at least an approximation of it in his own special language. We talked about hot and cold, and Budster was very careful of the flames. I showed him how to blow the candles out, which he found very funny. He tried to blow them out too, but laughter got the best of him, and he only managed a noise, “Pfff!”
Even after I blew the candles out, Budster was enchanted by the lanterns. He wanted to take the cold candles out and put them back in, rearranging them and dumping them from one jar to the other, and somehow his simple games lasted and lasted. What was just a bunch of jars a few hours ago held magic for him now.
I cannot stress enough the importance of staying close to your children at all times while introducing candles to them. Glass jars also require careful handling in little hands. If you are in doubt about the suitability of this project for your children, please, use plastic jars and flameless candles.
If you liked these lanterns, download our design and make them together with your family! You may also find these related activities interesting:
– Magical Christmas Lanterns: find my Christmas design for these lanterns
– Witch’s Doll House in a Box: a doll house in a box, featuring a kind and friendly witch as an owner
– Button Pumpkin: make this bright and easy autumn collage to decorate your house for the fall