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! Since making these first lanterns, we have made other designs and explored new techniques:
Christmas Mason Jar Lanterns: Perfect for winter months.
Fairy Mason Jar Lanterns: Made with papercuts!
Fairy-Tale Mason Jar Lanterns: Video tutorial is included in this one.
– jars of different sizes and shapes
+ different materials depending on what technique you choose for putting designs on
1 — 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. Rubbing alcohol helps with getting rid of sticky residue.
2 — Spray paint the outsides of the jars. For this project I used Krylon Purple paint, but later I have found out that Rust-Oleum grape paint is even better (check the gradient it created for the Fairy-Tale Mason Jars). 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 FOUR ways of putting the design onto the jars. You can draw, paint, cut – or simply use vinyl! Depends on what you feel most comfortable with.
DRAW: This was how the original lanterns were made. If you use our design, print it and insert inside the jar. You will be able to see it through the thin layer of paint like you can see on the picture above. The first time I made these jars a few years ago, I used paint markers, as you can see on the picture above: Uchida Deco Color Extra Fine Point Paint Marker for making contours and Uchida Broad Point Paint Marker for colouring inside of them. It was a little tricky. I had to be careful not to go with the marker over the same line twice, or it’d smear. The trick was 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.
PAINT: Recently, I’ve also discovered another way of putting my designs on. Try mixing white Elmer’s glue with black Acrylic paint – the resulting mixture is ideal for painting on glass! The recipe and the full tutorial with the video is here. Again, you need to print our design, insert it inside the jar and paint with a small brush on the outside of 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 so were the Fairy-Tale lanterns (there is a video tutorial included with these ones). Do you have a Silhouette machine for cutting silhouettes? You can use this tutorial. Cricut? The tutorial is 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!
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.
Getting ready for Christmas? Here is the book of our Christmas silhouette projects with over 60 printable silhouette designs!