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! And here is the latest tutorial featuring the Fairyland lanterns, including a new technique!

Enchanting Halloween Lanterns: Turn Mason Jars into Lanterns and Explore Light with Children
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Materials

– 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 Extra Fine Point Paint Marker for making contours and Uchida Broad Point Paint Marker for colouring it)

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.

 

Tutorial

Enchanting Halloween Lanterns: Turn Mason Jars into Lanterns and Explore Light with Children

  1. Prepare the jars by washing them thoroughly, as any oily residue will interfere with paint adhesion.
  2. Spray paint the outsides of the jars. For this project I used Krylon Purple paint. Leave the jars translucent by spraying a very thin, even layer. Once they are dry, drop a candle inside one of the jars and see how the light comes through. If you think that one layer of paint is not enough, add another. If the light isn’t coming through, you may need to try with a different jar. Let the paint dry thoroughly, according to the instructions on the can, before proceeding to the next step.
  3. Now, there are THREE ways of putting the design onto the jars:
    PAINT: If you use our design, print it and insert inside the jar. Trace it with a marker on the outside of the jar. You will be able to see it through the thin layer of paint. I used this black fine point paint marker for tracing the picture on glass and this black broad point marker for colouring. Be careful not to go with the marker over the same line twice. It’ll smear. The trick is to do the best you can with the first layer and later, once the first layer of paint has dried up, touch up the spots with the marker. If you make your own design, it may be a better idea to sketch it on a piece of paper first. Once it’s done, insert the piece into the jar and trace the outlines. But confident young artists may want to paint right on the jar.<
    CUT AND GLUE: After you printed the designs, cut them out with scissors and glue them onto the sprayed jars. The Fairyland lanterns were done using this technique, and you can read more about it here.
    PRINT ON VINYL: Print the designs on vinyl and then adhere them to the outside of the jars.

Now it is time to put some candles in and add some illumination to the room!

Enchanting Halloween Lanterns: Turn Mason Jars into Lanterns and Explore Light with ChildrenIn the dim light

Enchanting Halloween Lanterns: Turn Mason Jars into Lanterns and Explore Light with ChildrenIn the dark 

Our son 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!”

On that note, if you have kids, stay close to them when showing the lanterns and put the lanterns out of their reach when you cannot. If you are in doubt, use plastic jars and flameless LED candles.

If you liked these lanterns, download our design and make them together with your family! Do you want other ideas? Here are some more lanterns we have made:

DIY Lantern ideas from Adventure in a Box

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