Mason Jar Lanterns: DIY Design Tutorial



I am totally enamored with these beautiful blue mason jars from Ball. You may remember that I used them for gifting cookies to friends and family over the holiday. Now that the weather is *finally* warming up, I’ve turned them into lovely little hanging lanterns for my backyard. It’s super budget-friendly DIY Design project that any of you can do; here’s how!

What you’ll need:

-Mason Jars: 1 per lantern

-Kosher Salt (or other large-grained salt): enough to fill each lantern about 2/3

-Votive or tea light candles

-Chain of choice, cut into 2-foot pieces (available at Home Depot, etc. I chose the smallest silver chain they had available. They’ll cut the chain for you on the spot in the store.)

-18-gauge wire, ideally same color as your chain

-Pliers (mine, pictured below, also cut wire. But you can just use needle-nose pliers and a pair of scissors if you don’t have the fancy wire-cutting kind.)

– Optional: Strong scissors (if pliers don’t cut wire).




Fill your jars with enough salt to make it easy to reach the candles for placement and lighting. But make sure the salt level is low enough that the wick is beneath the top of jar. The whole point of the lantern is to keep the wick protected from the wind! I usually fill the jars about 2/3 of the way with salt.




Cut a piece of wire that is 2-3 inches long. Take one of your 2-foot pieces of chain; starting with one end, loop it around the jar so it lays as flat as possible underneath the grooves at the top of the jar. Then loop the piece of wire through the links so that the chain is hugging the jar very snugly, and twist once to secure tightly in place.




Using your pliers, tighten the wire loop and then twist the ends tightly two or three times. Once the wire is twisted tightly into place, cut the excess length off of the wire. The little twisted link that you just made will blend right into the chain. IMG_3489IMG_3490

Now you have a nice snug necklace wrapped around the top of the jar, with one long loose piece of chain hanging off of it, like so:


Take the last link on the loose end of the chain and fasten it to the exact opposite side of the jar opening using the same technique described above, forming the loop that you will use to hang the jar.


And that’s it! Hang from tree branches, a shepherd’s hook, your fence, or anything else that protrudes and is strong enough to securely hold these babies.

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Community Forklift: The DC DIY-er’s Best-Kept Secret

Have you been to Community Forklift? Have you even heard of Community Forklift? I lived in DC for four years before ever hearing about this place, and once I discovered how chock full of amazing stuff it is, I couldn’t believe it was such a well-kept secret! It’s basically a gigantic warehouse and storage yard chock-full of reclaimed fixtures, construction materials, appliances, and vintage doodads from old homes. This place is located just over the NE border of DC in Edmonston, MD (a 15-minute drive from The Hill) has EVERYTHING.


Crystal doorknobs, beautiful wrought-iron grates, vintage light fixtures, ancient kitchen supplies like this cute-yet-creepy teddy bear cake pan:


…piles of all sorts of different kinds of tiles, aisles full of all shapes and sizes of doors, windows, window screens, refrigerators, stoves, toilets, sinks, and more. There’s a section for tools and hardware too – nails and screws of all sizes are just the beginning. Outside, you’ll find slabs of granite and stone in various shapes and sizes, bathtubs galore, bricks, lumber…phew.


From fun decorative pieces like dusty apothecary jars and cast-iron kettles to practical pieces like raw lumber of various species and sizes, I really am not exaggerating when I say this place has EVERYTHING. The many, many photos below barely begin to capture the vastness of this place and its remarkable collection of, well, stuff. Check them out, then find a friend with a pickup truck and go visit!

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Video Tutorial: Transforming Pumpkins into Wintery Works of Art

I got a little crafty during the snow day we had earlier this week, and am so thrilled with the results that I put together a few tutorials so that you can create your own wintery works of art! Here’s a shot of the final product – if you want to know how I did it, watch the quick, 45-second tutorial video above and read on below for more detailed instructions.


Here’s the list of things you’ll need for these projects:

To make white pumpkins:

  • Newspaper or tarp to protect your work area
  • White spray paint (use a semi-gloss or glossy finish to create a porcelain-like effect, matte for a more “natural” effect)
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Gloves (optional, but highly recommended – this stuff gets sticky quick.)

Here are the additional things you’ll need to make the large, “stenciled”-style pumpkin:

  • Leaves of your choice. (I used gingko leaves from the trees that line my block.) Use as few or as many different types as you’d like, just make sure they’re not too dry/brittle or they won’t stand up to the process.
  • Glitter Spray Paint* in colors of your choice. I recommend choosing one metallic (gold, silver, copper, etc.) and one in a vivid, contrasting color (red, blue, green). If you just use metallics, the effects of the stenciling will likely be too subtle to see.
  • (Optional) Small paintbrush for touch-ups

*Please note: I do NOT recommend the Krylon brand paint pictured here and featured in my video. I had some serious technical difficulties with the stuff, and based on the reviews I read online after purchasing it from my hardware store, the problems I had are fairly common with this brand. I was able to get them to work long enough to complete the big pumpkin, but wasn’t able to use them on any of the smaller pumpkins and gourds as I’d originally planned. Boo.


In addition to everything listed above, here’s what you’ll need to make the smaller pumpkins that feature the red leaf appliques pictured above:

  • Spray adhesive/glue – I used Elmer’s in a can and it worked great.
  • IMG_0621

To make white/silver pumpkins:

1. Spread newspapers or tarp all over your workspace, and then some. (Spray paint travels far, fast.) I highly recommend working outside given the high level of fumes from the spray paints and glue.

2. Use painter’s tape to thoroughly cover the pumpkin stems.

3. Go nuts with your white spray paint. Hold the can 10-12 inches away from the pumpkin surface to prevent pooling and paint dribbles.

4. Wait about 5 minutes, then spray on a second coat to cover any thin areas or stubborn spots that are showing through. 2 coats should do the trick, but if you feel you need more, go for it.

5. (Optional) If you want your white pumpkins to have a nice sparkly sheen, give them a coat or two of your metallic glitter spray paint after you’ve let the last coat of white paint dry to the touch. (Otherwise they’ll mix and pool and it won’t be pretty.)

To make the “stencil”-style pumpkins:


1. While the white paint is still wet, carefully stick your leaves of choice to the pumpkin in your pattern of choice, smoothing them so they lay flat against the surface. Feel free to give the area where you’re going to put the leaves an extra spritz of white paint so the surface is nice and sticky for the leaves. (Don’t worry about messing up the metallic glitter coat if you chose to apply one – this will all be covered up shortly with colored glitter so you won’t be able to tell)


2. Grab your glitter spray paint – the bright, contrasting-colored one – and spray it over and around the leaves with a smooth, downward sweeping motion. (If you go back and forth with the spray or make it too choppy and burst-y, the leaves may detach from the pressure of the spray.) I chose a diagonally sweeping design. Whatever you choose, make sure the area that you’ve sprayed with the bright glitter goes at least a little ways past the edges of the leaves.

3. Grasp the leaf stems and carefully peel the leaves away from the pumpkins. If the white paint underneath the leaves gets mussed when you pull away the leaves, just use the small paintbrush to carefully touch-up those areas.

Et voila! Masterpiece complete!

To make the appliqued pumpkins:


One happy result of making the stencil-style pumpkin above is that you are now left with a bunch of leaves that are covered in glitter. Waste not want not!


1. Spray the unpainted sides of the leaves with your spray adhesive/glue. Be generous, especially around the thin stem areas.


2. Pick up the leaves by the stems and gently lay them on the pumpkin surface, then carefully smooth them so they lay flat against the pumpkin. Press the leaves and stems into the pumpkin and hold in place for at least 10 seconds  Be sure that the fingers you use to smooth and hold the faces of the leaves do NOT have any glue or wet paint on them, or they will mess up the glittery face of the leaves. (These are much harder to touch up than the white “leaves” mentioned above, so don’t put yourself in that position!)

And there you have it! Autumnal gourds transformed into winter-time works of art! Here are some more photos, just for funsies:






DIY Design: 5 Tiny Shelves for Tiny Bedrooms

I love this listicle (that’s list + article – get it?) from Apartment Therapy of five tiny bedside shelves that you can make yourself.

Bedroom not much bigger than a shoebox? Bookmark one of these 5 tiny DIY bedside table ideas for a rainy Sunday afternoon.

1. Mette at Monsters Circus turned a cutting board into a floating string table. Find the tutorial here.

2. Tête D’ange used oak wood to make this Scandinavian inspired swing shelf, but you could easily use reclaimed wood. You can find the full tutorial here.

3. Caitlin, of The Merrythought, created this DIY wall mount side table for Poppytalk. Caitlin used new wood, but because the table is so small, you could mix and match leftover wood from other projects. See the tutorial here.

4. Tracie from Cleverly Inspired used old salvaged trim to build a new shelf. Find the tutorial here.

5. Catherine from HyggeLiG mounted an old drawer shelf onto a wall and attached a corded bulb to the drawer’s handle. See more pictures here.

(Images: 1. Monsterscircus; 2. Tête D’ange ; 3. Poppytalk; 4. Cleverly Inspired; 5. Catherine ofHyggeLiG via Design*Sponge)