This week, we have worked on making Christmas lanterns. Out came more mason jars and paint, and now we have a set of flickering blue luminaries on our windowsill. I hope they will make our winter evenings cozier and more magical.
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My favourite part of this project was making the designs. I have a fascination with little town silhouettes with clock towers. So you can notice! But there are some other characters here: a reindeer couple is carrying a sleigh in the sky, and the third reindeer is hiding behind the tree on the last lantern. You can download the design here and scale to the right size for your jars, or you can make your own. This is a good project for adults and children collaborating.
Update! Since making these lanterns, we have made other designs and explored new techniques:
Halloween 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 (in addition to a pair of canning jars, here you can see featured a pickle jar and a spice jar)
– a can of blue spray paint (I used Rust-Oleum Brilliant Blue Spray Paint)
1. Wash your jars thoroughly as any oily residue will interfere with paint adhesion.
2. Spray paint the outsides of the jars. For this project I used Rust-Oleum Brilliant Blue Spray Paint, which gives very good coverage. It is great for most projects, but for this project you need to be careful to leave the jars translucent by spraying a thin, even layer. Once they are 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, add another.
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 illumination to the room!
My son was excited to see the new lanterns. We used LED white light candles, so I wasn’t worried about him playing with the lanterns for as much as he wanted to.
Afterwards, I tried going over the black silhouettes with white acrylics to imitate snow, lying on the roofs… But I did not include this step in the tutorial. When we put the candles in and dimmed the light, the white was really not noticeable. So you can try it or leave it.
If you liked these lanterns, here are some more projects you can make with us!