Trending Crafts You Really Should Learn: Jars of Light

Image: Lisa Kay Tate
Image: Lisa Kay Tate

I don’t know what it is about the idea of illuminating a small glass vessel that is so popular in the craft world right now, but I can only venture a guess the simplicity and coziness of a little light in hand or home is a welcome sight any time of year.

If I was exceptionally industrious (and wanted to take up more space than necessary), I could list a different “jar candle” technique for every day of the year.

Instead, I think it would be easier to give a sort of “candle of the month” selection of twelve of the more easy-to-do ideas I’ve found.

"Pinhole" Stars light
“Pinhole” Stars

Some of these are incredibly simple, and will take less than an hour’s time to complete. For the more complicated ones, I’ve included a link to instructions listed by the crafts creators.

Witch Jars. I’ve seen several methods of making this, but they all follow the same basic recipe: Give a quick spray of black or brown spray paint to the bottom of a jar, add some watered-down school glue; green, red or yellow acrylic paint; and a little dirt or twigs.  These look great during the fall “haunting season,” but they also make a nice rustic-looking candle for a porch or windowsill. One method can be found at http://beautifulhalloween.blogspot.com/2010/09/strublay-style-witch-jars-tips.htmlbeautifulhalloween.blogspot.com/2010/09/strublay-style-witch-jars-tips.html

Rope Wraps. Lightly wrap a strand of rope or yarn around a glass jar, securing the ends with a small amount of craft glue. Spray the jar with white or light-colored spray paint, and gently remove the rope. The resulting pattern is quite pretty.

Glitter Jars. Brush a water/school glue wash over the inside of a jar, then dust with glitter (silver or gold looks best). These look elegant at Christmas, weddings, summer night pool parties, or anytime.

Sun-melted crayon candles.  Tie a candlewick around a pencil, and set it over the opening of a jar so it hangs down the center. Fill the jar with broken crayon pieces, wrappers removed. Leave the jar out in the sun for a few hours for it to melt into a candle. I suggest using only a couple of layered colors at a time, as the crayons might have the potential to melt together in blackish glob.

Nature-inspired votives. Fill jars about 1/3 of the way uncooked beans, lentils, small rocks, or sand to rest a tea candle on. These are almost too easy, but they look so cool I couldn’t exclude them.

Wisp In A Jar
Wisps in A Jar

Lace patterns. Wrap a paper doily or wide piece of lace around a jar, and coat the entire thing with dark paint. Remove the doily for a patterned jar that will reflect beautiful shadows on the walls and table when lit.

That Mountain Dew method.  I’ve discovered this well-shared method actually works, at least for a while. Add three caps of peroxide and a little bit of baking soda to bottle filled about one-fourth of the way with Mountain Dew. Works for both camping and science fairs. Here‘s an interesting version with Mountain Dew and Mentos to try as well. http://science.wonderhowto.com/how-to/create-light-with-mentos-and-mountain-dew-278072/.

Night Sky. Poke several pinhole lights in a black piece of paper, and place inside a jar or glass, to create a little mini-planetarium. Use a “flameless” votive or LED light to prevent this from going up in flames.

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Jars of Glass. Mix a small strand of LED lights with pieces of broken glass. These look exceptionally nice if you have access to sea glass or safety window glass.

witch jar
Witch Jar

Steampunk lights. Punch a hole in the lid of a large mason jar to hang over a single exposed light bulb. This is the ideal way to make use of those “Edison-style” antique light bulbs found at most home or hardware stores. There’s a basic method at http://wikihow.com/Make-Mason-Jar-Lights.

Stars in Jars. Splatter the inside of a jar with glow-in-the-dark paint and keep in a direct light most of the day. These will create a little glowing “jar of stars” that doesn’t even need a candle.

Wisps in a Jar. Float an image of a will-o-the-wisp, ala Pixar’s Brave, or other fairy in a jar before adding the light. I’m not above a little self-promotion, here, so I’ll include my own link to this craft at http://lisathegeekmom.wordpress.com/2012/07/11/wisps-in-jar/.

These should be more than enough to get you started, or at least encourage you to take a trip down the illuminated rabbit hole in search of creative lighting.

Lisa Kay Tate is a veteran feature writer with 20 years experience in newspaper, magazine and freelance writing. In addition to serving as Associate Editor for her local arts and entertainment guide, El Paso Scene, she has been a regular contributor to the site ihogeek.com and maintains her own blogsite at lisathegeekmom.wordpress.com. She and her husband, writer/photographer Rick, live on the edge of "New Texico" where they keep busy raising their two geeklings and sharing space with their dog, Sirius Black, and cat, Loki.