Crafty Kids: DIY Mason Jar Lanterns

The world (well, the Pinterest World) has re-discovered mason jars. Once used mostly for canning (and the occasional desperate drink of water when every other glass in the cupboard was dirty), mason jars are now the craft item du jour

And when I see a party happening, I invite myself to that party. Hello Mason Jar fiesta – may I join you?

Painted Mason Jar Lantern 12 - Suburble

Inspired by lantern-jars that I saw on a recent camping trip, I have been anxious to try this craft at home. I merely had to say, “Do you guys want to make lanterns?” and the girls were already sitting impatiently at their picnic table.

I grabbed three jars from my canning stash, some acrylic paint, and some paintbrushes. 

Painting Mason Jar Lanterns - Suburble

 Being the hyper-control-freak that I am, I poured out the exact same palette for each painter. This way, the lanterns would all match, regardless of the painting choices. 

(You’ll notice that the paint is on a paper plate  – this makes for very easy clean-up, especially when crafting with the preschooler set)

Painting Mason Jar Lanterns 1 -Suburble

The kids both set to work on painting their jars. 

Painting Mason jar Lanterns  3-  Suburble

 We turned them upside down and painted on the outside of the jars. The girls loved mixing colours and creating their own design. The acrylic covered the glass easily. 

Painting Mason Jar Lanterns 5 - Suburble

As well as the picnic table, and the children. Here, Lucy saying, “I didn’t do it!”

Painting Mason Jar Lanterns 4 - Suburble

The entire mason jar should be covered in paint and then left to dry completely. The children will ask incessantly, “Is it dry yet? How about now?”

Painted Mason Jar Lantern 8 - Suburble

 Once the paint is dry, take sandpaper and rough up the paint. This is so that there are peek-a-boo spaces in the paint in order to let the light shine through. (Can you read that and not get the song stuck in your head? “Let…. the light shine through…”).

Lila came up with an awesome sanding technique: she dragged the jar across the paper. 

Painted Mason Jar Lanterns 6 - Suburble

 After we had distressed our jars, I coated each one in Mod Podge Outdoor. This stuff is rad-tastic. That’s all I have to say about that. (Also, let it dry – it stays tacky for a bit longer than regular Mod Podge)

 Painted Mason Jar Lantern 9 - Suburble

While the Mod Podge is drying – and while the children are dancing around their still-tacky jars exclaiming, “Can we light it YET?” – tie twine around the rim of a snap lid. Trim the edges, and continue watching the children blow on their drying mason jar lanterns.

When you twist the rim onto the jar, hold onto the two pieces of twine, and it should twist on and secure it easily. Otherwise, the twine will slip as you twist it and create an uneven handle. 

Painted Mason Jar Lantern 11 - Suburble

When the lantern is dry and given its “rustic-chic” handle, add a light. Now, if little beaners are going to be carrying these lanterns, use a battery-operated tea-light as the light. I do love the look of flickering candlelight, but I much prefer my children to be scorch-mark free. 

Lila waited until just before her bedtime to test out her lantern. Because summer has the longest days, this picture doesn’t really show the full potential of these lanterns 

Painted Mason Jar Lantern 12 - Suburble

After she had gone to bed, and the sun was slipping beneath the horizon, I snapped these photos. 

These lanterns can be hung on fences, on walls, from gazebos…. 

Painted Mason Jar Lantern 13 - Suburble

Or even gathered as a centerpiece. 

The girls were so proud of their lanterns. They’re carefully placed on our patio table, waiting for nightfall to come. (And for happy little kidlets to admire their glow)

This project would be a great one for a sleepover, a campout, or even just a quiet night of watching the stars. 

This post was originally shared at The Taylor House

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    • Tara says

      Oh, let me know if you do try something like this, Lauren. I was thinking that if painter’s tape got involved (or even some calculated scratching) there could be some beautiful results!

    • Tara says

      Yes, Michaels is the place to find the Mod Podge Outdoor. I use it A LOT. (Though the large pot of it is quite pricey there)

      We like to craft because it keeps us busy! (Plus, they’re good guinea pigs for craft projects!)

    • Tara says

      I have seen some tissue-paper lanterns before too, but I didn’t have the crepe/tissue paper on hand, and I didn’t know if Lucy had the coordination to decoupage without it becoming a wrinkled mess.

      I like the paint – it’s simple and easy and it’s SUPPOSED to be all mottled and full of holes. It was a fun project! (And you should definitely get your hands on some Mod Podge Outdoor – it’s awesome stuff!)

    • Tara says

      Thank you so much, Amy! My girls most definitely do have an early love for all jars that are mason. I brought home three flats of jars today! (But for canning beans and tomatoes – no craftiness yet!)

    • Tara says

      I’m glad I’m not the only matchy-matchy crazy when it comes to things in a series. I just had to dominate the colours, but left the rest to them.

      They had a good time making them. I’m definitely going to make this a camping project in the future!

    • Tara says

      Oh, you’re so right that it’s inexpensive, Kelly (and part of the reason why I love it!). I try not to infringe on the girls’ creativity, but I just had to have the same paint colours. It was a must. :)

    • Tara says

      Oh, thank you for the pin, Tammy! It was a lot of fun for the girls to do (Lila is so proud of her lantern – she shows it to everyone who comes onto the patio)!

    • Tara says

      Thank you, Tiffany! I try to keep things as simple as possible with the girls (and also for myself) – I was thrilled when the twine on the lid worked!

    • Tara says

      I thought that a centerpiece of these would be lovely (especially if there was a design involved in the “peek-a-boo” aspect of the lanterns)!

    • Tara says

      Oh, I’ve already accepted my Helicopter Mom label. I don’t know if I’m so much a neat freak as a control freak, though! 😉

    • Tara says

      I’m still in the lantern-painting stage of my life, too! I love how versatile mason jars are (and I still love them for canning, too!).

    • Tara says

      Oh… I LOVE the idea of painting pumpkins. I’m definitely doing that.

      (But yes… black + any other colour usually ends up not-so-colourful… perhaps I’ll leave it off the palette? Is that a Hallowe’en faux-pas?)

    • Tara says

      Oh, I think that I have mom-goggles when it comes to nearly all of the arts-and-crafts that my girls make. I think they’re all beautiful! :) (I’m sure you’ll find that too when your non-existent offspring suddenly exist!)

    • Tara says

      Heather – that’s too funny that you said that. Half of the time, my craft ideas are also “busy work”. It keeps the kids doing something creative (and not watching tv or fighting with each other)!

    • Tara says

      I know that I need to really savour these moments – soon the girls won’t be as interested in crafting with me. But for now, I’m taking advantage of the fact that they’ll blindly follow my instructions. 😉

  1. says

    great craft! I’ve been meaning to get some light into my backyard… maybe I’ll give this a whirl this weekend. Love that you got your kids involved too!
    Tia recently posted…Progress ShotMy Profile

    • Tara says

      It would be a great (and inexpensive) way to get some lighting into the backyard. You could hang them from pretty much anything! If you try it out, let me know! I’d love to see photos! :)

  2. says

    Thank you for this tutorial. It’s a clever way how to tie a string to that jar using its lid :)
    I love manson jars for all sorts of crafty purposes – storage of ribbons and buttons, pincushions. Last year I painted them with glass paints:
    Would love to try a white crochet cover for them too! – just need to brush up on my crocheting skills!
    Martha recently posted…Card making books reviews and Dala stamps.My Profile

    • Tara says

      I was really happy when I learned that the twine would allow for the lid to be screwed on. It makes for a simple handle (and I didn’t have to go out and buy floral wire or mickey-mouse a handle from something).

      I saw your mason jars – they’re lovely! The pin-cushion tops are gorgeous! I love that you cross-stitched them!


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