Monday, April 6, 2009

Mason Jar Lantern, Glass Insulator Lantern

I bought a couple of old blue mason jars with zinc tops at the antique store down the street recently with the intention of cutting the bottoms off of them to make cloches. Turns out cutting glass is hard, duh. So, I didn't get too far on that upcycle. However, Mrs. Hughes and I were in the herb shop down on main street in Franklin this past weekend and they had some awesome glass globe lanterns with black metal hoop handles. They instantlly gave me the idea to turn my mason jars into lanterns.

Honestly I thought it would be a pretty easy thing. I decided to use a metal coathanger instead of going to Home Depot and purchasing wire. Cutting and straightening out the coathanger was pretty simple. The hard part came in bending the round part that went around the lip of the jar. I had to bend it in a circle plus add two little openings for the handle ends to fit through, then, I had to fix it to where the two ends of the round piece met and hooked around one another tightly, since this bangle around the jar lip is what would hold the handle in place, and, it would be hung from it's handle.

I happened to have some craft wire from an old project that is covered in what I believe is hemp. I think they use it for branches for floral arrangements. I wrapped the handle to my lantern with that, but you could probably use actual hemp, or maybe even rafia. A good coat of wax over it would probably waterproof either well for use out doors.

You will need something to sit on the bottom of the jar to act as a wax catch for your tea light or candle. I used an aluminum cupcake wrapper, I tried to use a baby food jar but it was a hair too big to fit into the opening of the jar. If you melt the bottom of the candle a little and then sit it on the wrapper first it's a lot easier to get both into the jar at the same time. Remember to remove the paper part of the wrapper.
For what appeared to be a simple little project bending wire just the way you want it can take some time. I think this turned out great though and plan on making several more. After showing it to Mrs. Hughes she gave her approval. I was sure that she would deem them too country for use around our house/back porch, etc... but it looks like this is one upcycle we will get some good use out of.

After completing the Mason Jar Lantern I remembered an old glass utility pole insulator that I had bought a while back and thought it might make a good lantern as well. Turns out I was right, actually, a tea light fits into the hole perfectly. If you decide to make either one of these lanterns I would suggest that you add a piece of wire or twine to the top to tie the handle to the hook you hang them on. They are pretty heavy, the insulator is actually heavier than the quart mason jar, and would hurt pretty good if one fell and conked you on the head.

PLAN B If you aren't inclined to cutting and bending wire, few are, then here is another great idea for mason jars, or, any jars you have around the house. I actually saw this in Southern Living last month in use on a farm table for a picnic, except they used a handmade wood box instead of a soda pop crate.
Find yourself an old soda crate, any brand will do as long as it's wood and doesn't have a lot of dividers in the middle. Open in the middle is best. Collect up all of your old unused jars or half empty jars from the fridge. Old flower vases that you aren't protective of work well too. Fill the pop crate with the vases, jars, bottles, even metal vegetable cans with the labels torn off work, and arrange them to your liking. Now head down to your nearest field and pick some wild flowers, or cut a few Dogwood limbs, Saucer Magnolias, etc... you get the idea.

More soon,
The Upcycler

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