Upcycle mason jars and turn them into a set of lanterns with romantic printable silhouettes set against the background of a purple sky at twilight. Perfect for atmospheric decor, for a date-at-home, Valentine’s Day, or a wedding!
Three years ago, I made sets of both Halloween and Christmas lanterns. We have enjoyed them for a while, and have since made a few new designs. Along the way, I’ve been trying to improve and simplify the technique of their construction. My first lanterns used paint markers, but I later noticed that the markers could vary in quality, and it wasn’t easy to do the designs in a smooth even layer. Cutting the design out of paper gave more consistent results, and that’s how the latest fairy lanterns and fairy-tale lanterns came to life.
Today I’m trying out yet another method for making the lanterns. This method is suitable for those who enjoy painting, but I’m not using specialized paint markers. I’m actually using something that most people might already have at home – glue and acrylic paints.
The post contains affiliate links to Amazon products we used.
Materials for Making Mason Jar + Black Glue Lanterns
- printable design
- a selection of jars
- spray paint (purple for this one)
- white glue (Elmer’s)
- black acrylic paint (Liquitex Basic)
- thin round brush (0 or 1)
Watch the Video
1 — First, prepare the jars. For a set, I usually use a couple of standard half-pint mason jars, a small jam jar and a big pickle jar. Before applying paint, wash them thoroughly. Whenever possible, finish washing with a bit of alcohol – it degreases the glass and removes any sticker residue or codes printed directly on the glass.
2 – Spray paint the outsides of the jar. I have tried both Krylon and Rust-Oleum, and the latter is my preference. It gives a good even coverage. Something you need to be careful about is to leave the jars translucent by spraying a very thin layer – not at all the way you would usually apply spray paint – more like a layer of deliberate over-spray. Once the paint is dry, drop a candle inside one of the jars and see how the light comes through. If the light isn’t coming through, you may need to try again with a different jar. Let the paint dry thoroughly, according to the instructions on the can.
3 — Now, there are FOUR ways of putting our printable design onto the jars. You can draw, paint, cut – or simply use vinyl! Depends on what you feel most comfortable with. In this post, I show how to paint the designs onto the jars with black glue. Check this post for drawing the designs on with a special pen or this post for cutting the designs out of paper.
What is a black glue and how to make it at home? It’s really quite simple and cheap. Black glue is a mixture of Elmer’s white glue and black acrylic paint (1:1 = one part glue and one part acrylic paint). The proportions are approximate, so you don’t need to measure very carefully. Just squeeze a little of each on a plastic plate and mix them together with a brush. The resulting mixture is ideal for working on glass and plastic. Previously, I tried special pens and even special stained glass contours. They didn’t work as well. This combination of acrylic paint and glue results in a mix that flows smoothly (more so than if you used straight acrylic paint) and dries into slightly raised lines (which don’t let the light through).
4 — Once you’ve got the paint ready, slip one of our printed designs inside the jar. If the layer of paint is thin, as advised in step two, you can see the design through the glass and, following it, paint with a small brush on the outside of the jar.
5 — Let it dry and afterwards slip an LED tealight candle inside. Since the jar is translucent, the light of the candle comes through at the bottom of the jar and creates a gradient effect reminiscent of the twilight sky. For purple lanterns, warm light works best.
Depending on the amount of light in the room, the lanterns change. In a well-illuminated room, the jars look like this.
As the light fades out, their colour changes.