{seasonal style} Mason Jar Jack O Lanterns

Monday, October 28, 2013

Ok, folks, I'm finally jumping on board the mason jar band wagon!

Mason Jar Jack o'Lanterns

Over the last year or two, I've seen a lot of mason jar Jack O Lanterns on Pinterest, but they've all had black faces and the light has shown through translucent paint or paper covering the remainder of the jar.  I love all of these, but wanted to do something a bit different - so I opted for an opaque paint on the jar with the light shining through the unpainted eyes, nose, and mouth.

I decided to take a non-traditional approach by creating silver Jack O Lanterns to sit in front of the orange wall above the mantel of our basement fireplace - yes, you read that, we have an orange wall.

Once I had figured out a good methodology, these mason jar Jack O Lanterns were really pretty simple.  My original thought had been to draw the pumpkin faces onto blue painters tape, cut them out with scissors, and place them onto the jars.  But when my mom offered to let me borrow her Sizzix die cutting machine and her new "Mini Silly Jack O Lantern" die set, I jumped at the chance.  I had never tried the Sizzix before, and I was amazed at just how easy it is to use.  The four individual pieces of the Jack O Lantern die set stick to the Sizzix's magnetic plate.

I decided to cut the Jack O Lantern faces out of adhesive backed vinyl that I had left over from several other projects {including this project - where I created wall words for the wall of our guest bathroom}.  I cut a strip of vinyl from my roll, placed it on top of the die set, placed a cutting pad on top, and used the handle on the side to roll the entire thing through the machine.

The Sizzix cut through the adhesive backed vinyl with no problem at all.  I repeated these steps to cut three sets of Jack O Lantern faces to be placed on the inside of my three mason jars.  Then I needed three more sets of faces for the outside of jars (since I would be painting both the inside and the outside).  But the set of faces for the outside of the jar needed to be reversed from those going inside the jar (with the adhesive on the opposite side), so I cut another strip off the vinyl, but this time turned it upside down and ran it through the Sizzix machine with the adhesive backing up.  

Using the Sizzix made cutting all these Jack O Lantern faces super quick and easy!  But for those who don't have a die cutting machine, you could just as easily draw the faces or use a stencil and then cut the faces out with scissors.

Once I had all three sets of faces cut, it was time to stick them on the jars.  I knew that it would be difficult to be precise in the placement of the vinyl stickers on the inside of the jars, so I determined it would be best to place the stickers on the inside first, and then simply mirror them on the outside.  However, I also determined that I needed a guide to help me visualize approximately where to place them when working on the inside of the jar.  Therefore, I peeled the backing off of the first face set, sat the vinyl stickers to the side, and used clear tape to tape the backing to the outside of the jar, re-positioning the pieces until I was happy with the general placement of the face.

Then came the hardest part - actually placing the stickers inside the jars.  The opening at the top of each jar is too small for a hand to fit through (or at least too small for MY hand to fit), so I had to get creative in figuring out how to get the stickers on the inside.  For the first jar, I placed each sticker on the tip of a pair of scissors and used the scissors to lower the stickers into the jar and place them generally according to the layout I had taped out on the outside of the jar.  This method did work, but was a bit tedious.  For the second and third jar I found an easier way.  I grabbed out my tool set that came with my Cricut cutting machine and used the flat tipped tool to place the stickers inside the jars.  This tool was much easier to maneuver than the scissors, and also worked well for smoothing down the edges of the stickers once they were in place, ensuring a good seal so that no paint would be able to bleed under.  

I placed the stickers inside the jar as closely as possible to the layout I had taped on the outside, but it was impossible to place them exactly.  Once all the inside pieces were placed, I removed my taped-on guide pieces from the outside of the jar and replaced them with a set of vinyl stickers, exactly mirroring the placement of the pieces inside the jar.  {In the photo below, disregard the cloudy appearance around the face stickers.  In my first attempt at this project, I worried that paint would bleed under the stickers, so I applied a sealer coat over the stickers before beginning to paint.  However, when I moved on to the paint step, the sealer coat began to lift up.  Luckily I had an extra jar on hand, and on my second attempt I discovered there was no need for the sealer coat, as the vinyl stickers alone worked just fine and I had no issues with paint bleeding.}

Once the faces were placed on all my jars (inside and out), I was ready to move on to the the paint step, and luckily Cooper had not yet woken up from his nap.

I painted the inside of the jars first, using Martha Stewart brand multi-surface acrylic paint, which I applied with a sponge brush. The first coat of paint went on pretty thin and streaky, but after allowing it to dry for a couple of hours, I was able to apply a second coat which covered much better. I painted the necks of the jars last, which made the process of painting the inside a bit less messy.

Then I moved on to painting the outside.  I turned each jar upside down to ensure that no paint would end up on the inside, and then applied a coat of Krylon white primer which is suitable for multiple surfaces, including glass.

After the primer coat was dry, I applied a nice, even coat of Silverchrome spray paint. Don't let the label on the can confuse you - Gold Acrylic is the brand name, not the color.

This was my first time using the new Montana Gold Acrylic brand of spray paint, and I was really impressed with how well it covered.  I am often not very happy with the dull appearance of silver spray paint, but the Silverchrome color has a nice shiny, metallic appearance.  Two things to be aware of if you are using Montana Gold Acrylic spray paint for the first time: (1) This paint needs to be shaken for a long time before use.  The can recommends shaking for at least four minutes, but I was advised by the salesperson at my local art supply store to shake it for closer to 5-6 minutes; and (2) each can has a black ring below the spray nozzle that must be removed before use.

Once the silver coat was dry, I was ready to remove the vinyl stickers.  At this point, after so many coats of paint, I was nervous to see if my adhesive backed vinyl had really done a good job of protecting the glass, or whether the paint had bled underneath.  I once again pulled out a tool from my Cricut tool kit - this time the sharp, curved tool that looks like it belongs in a dentist's office.  It worked perfectly for removing the stickers, especially from the inside of the mason jars.  I didn't use this tool to pry the stickers up from the edges (which might have scratched the paint), but instead used the sharp point of the tool to grab and lift from the center of each sticker.

With all of the stickers removed, you can really see why I painted the jars both inside and out.  Had I simply painted the outside of the jars only, the silver would have shown through the clear areas of the face, making the face nearly invisible when not lit by a candle. But with the black paint on the inside, the Jack O Lantern faces are clearly visible, making these mason jars striking whether lit or unlit.

While I was impressed with how well the silver spray paint covered the jars, I did notice that the even after drying for a couple of days, the silver paint continued to leave a bit of residue anywhere I sat the jars. Since I want to use these jars for many Halloweens to come, I decided it would be best to apply a final sealer coat protect the paint finish.  Fortunately, I already had some Rustoleum brand crystal clear gloss sealer on hand, so I again turned each jar upside down and gave it a quick even coat of sealer.  I should also mention that I applied a coat of silver spray paint and a sealer coat to the lid of each jar as well (since the original lid color was a dull gold).

Once the sealer coat had dried, I was super excited to carry my new mason jar Jack O Lanterns down to the basement to see how they looked on the fireplace mantle.  Yay!  I just love them!

Mason Jar Jack O'Lanterns

Here are a couple of closer looks...

Mason Jar Jack o Lanterns

Mason Jar Jack O'Lantern

Of course, as is true of any Jack O Lantern, to get the full effect you have to see these jars lit up.

Mason Jar Jack O'Lanterns

I first tried using a tea candle in each jar, but found that the candles sat so low that the glow didn't light up the entire face.  Once I replaced the tea candles with votives, I was able to achieve just the glow I was hoping for. Fortunately, I had a few extra black votive candles on hand, which worked perfectly because they sit low, but not too low, and the candles themselves are camouflaged against the black inside of the jars.

DIY Mason Jar Jack O'Lanterns

So there you have it... my mason jar Jack O Lanterns!  Here's a quick summary of the steps involved:

Mason Jar Jack O'Lanterns

Any one else out there come up with a fun new way to use mason jars to decorate for Halloween?  I'd love to see what you've created!

If you are looking for even more seasonal inspiration, you might be interested in these fall and Halloween projects:


  1. Those are gorgeous!! I dont normally decorate for halloween but you may have just changed my mind....love love love the black and gold! Pinned and stumbled this too:-)


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