Do you have some old mason jars you don’t know what to do with? Why not turn them into unique lamps!
The one I’ve done here shows you just how fun and funky you can get with a humble glass jar.
And you’re not limited to using mason jars. Any jar of a similar size and shape will do.
I’m using an old soup jar that I thought was too nice to throw out or toss into the recycling bin.
Obviously I went crazy with painting and embellishment because I enjoy that. But you can still get a funky lamp using simple techniques outlined in the section called Ten easy ways to decorate your mason jar lamp. You might even be inspired to make some for gifts!
Get a mason jar lamp kit
You’ll need an adapter kit for your mason jar. This includes a cap, socket and possibly a shade. If a shade is not in the kit you can get one from Amazon or Walmart. Look for one that is about 4″ in diameter on the top, 10″ in diameter on the bottom and 7″ high. It should clip onto the light bulb.
Again, I’m not using a mason jar but another glass jar I already had. To paint the glass I used enamel paints then baked in the oven at a low temperature according to the instructions. After that the glass can be cleaned with a damp cloth.
If I had used a mason jar I would have turned the embossed side to the back and painted my design on the front.
Stabilize the jar with a wooden base
Supplies for the wooden base
Pictured are wood glue, small nails, wooden beads and a wood base.
After painting my mini masterpiece on the jar I did not want to obscure it by putting something inside the jar to weight it down. So I decided to stabilize it with a wooden base on the bottom. Looking through my stash I found this round base and some wooden beads. I attached the beads to the base with a little wood glue and some nails.
Easy alternative to using a wooden base: You can get a 5″ round glass plate and glue it to the bottom of the jar. I’ve done this with another mason jar lamp which you can read about at the end of this article.
Carve out the base to fit the jar
I created a slight indentation in the wood for the jar to rest in. I centered the jar on top, traced the circle and used my Dremel rotary tool to carve it out, leaving grooves to hold the glue. That did take a bit of time but I wanted to make sure the jar was going to be secure on the base.
I also removed the old finish and stain using good old fashioned nail polish remover. Be sure to wear rubber gloves if you do this because it will stain your fingers. (Ask me how I know that!) The wooden base was lightly sanded with sand paper.
Then the base was painted to coordinate with the jar using enamel paints. Glitter was added to the stars and the base was protected with satin varnish.
Assemble the mason jar lamp
Attach the socket to the lid and glue base to jar
Since I was using a soup jar I needed to transfer the socket to the soup jar lid. The socket comes off easily by unscrewing the nut underneath the lid.
I had to put a hole in the new lid. To do that I put the old lid upside down on top of the new lid and traced the circle with a black marker. Then I cut the circle out with a utility knife.
The hole created was far from perfect so I covered it with a metal washer. The rest of the lid was filled in with sequins and topped off with water-based liquid satin varnish.
The lid was screwed onto the jar, and the wooden base was glued to the jar using lots of hot glue.
Make a paper pattern for the lampshade
Roll the lampshade on paper to create a pattern
Get a large piece of paper, even newspaper will do, and lay the shade on top. With the shade on its side start at the seam and mark that spot on the top and bottom. Slowly roll the shade across the paper, marking both the top and bottom as you go, stopping at the seam.
Finish the paper shade pattern
Connect the dots along the shade outline and use a ruler to make straight lines at the beginning and ending points. Add at least a half inch seam allowance around the shade outline. This is what it should look like when finished.
Cut out the pattern piece.
Select shade fabrics to coordinate with the painted jar
The shade can be covered with fabric or it can just be painted. Here is the painted jar along with the fabrics and beads I selected.
The cloud fabric is for the body of the shade and the silver microdot is for the trim at the top and bottom. Blue beaded fringe will finish off the bottom. You don’t need to use beaded fringe but I think it makes the lamp more playful. You’ll need about one yard.
Glue fabric to the shade
Use watered down glue and a paintbrush
Pin the paper pattern to the shade fabric and cut out. The fabric can be attached to the shade using spray adhesive or tacky glue. I used tacky glue thinned out with a little water.
Put the glue into a disposable container such as an old pie plate. Using a large paint brush apply the glue to the shade in small sections.
Start at the seam and smooth the fabric as you go with your hands. Try to press out all the air bubbles. When you get to the end turn under the edge and glue in place.
If you end up with air bubbles after you’re finished, apply more watery glue to the spot, stick a pin in it and press out the air with your fingers.
Glue the top and bottom edges of the shade
I used pinking shears along the top and bottom edges for a nicer look but that step is completely optional. The top edge of the fabric needs to have slits cut about every half inch so that it will fold down inside the shade.
Brush glue onto the fabric and press in place. The bottom edge does not need to be slit. There will be a little excess that needs to be evenly distributed as it’s glued down.
When the edges were finished I glued the silver microdot fabric to the top and bottom using full-strength tacky glue. The silver fabric was stretchy like bias tape. I just cut a long strip and folded down the edges. You could actually use bias tape or a nice trim or braid, or just skip this step altogether.
Glue beaded fringe to the bottom of the shade
This step is optional but makes the lamp a lot more fun! I like to add sparkle whenever I can and this is the perfect finishing touch. The beaded fringe was glued with hot glue.
When you’re done if there are any little glue strings hanging out, simply blow your hair dryer on them and they will vanish.
Finish gluing the trim
The edge of the fringe is turned under and hot glued in place.
The finished mason jar lamp
Add light bulb and you’re done!
Here’s the finished product—a fun, funky and unique lamp for a nightstand or end table!
Ten easy ways to decorate your mason jar lamp
Not everyone will want to spend a lot of time painting a lamp the way I did, so here are some quick and easy tips for customizing your mason jar lamp. Remember that if the jar does not have a base you will need to put something heavy inside to keep it from tipping over.
- Spray paint the outside or the inside of the jar any color. Gold or silver metallic would be really pretty. The shade could be a solid fabric (white or black) with a beaded fringe.
- Hot glue fake jewels to the outside of the jar. Use a coordinating fabric for the shade and glue more fake jewels around the top and bottom of the shade.
- Take several colors of acrylic paint, squirt the paint inside the jar from the top while alternating the colors as you go, and swirl them around. You could use really bright colors, or one color alternating with white, or three colors that go together like pink, purple and blue. For the shade you could use something like a sequin fabric or animal print and finish with a crazy feather boa trim.
- Leave the jar unpainted but make designs with dimensional glitter paint. Gold, silver or glittering crystal would be perfect. You could draw polka dots, swirls, squiggly lines, or all of them combined. (To see some examples, check out this tutorial for simple glass painting ideas.) This technique would also be good over a jar that was spray painted gold or silver metallic. The shade could be painted and protected with a water-based varnish.
- Wrap the jar with a piece of fabric. Draw it up and tie a ribbon around the top. This is a great technique that would allow you to change the look of your lamp any time you wanted. The shade could be covered with a plain neutral fabric that goes with everything.
- Wrap the jar with braid or trim using hot glue or tacky glue. Start at the top and work your way down to the bottom.
- Decoupage the inside of the jar. Use photos, scrapbook papers or bits of wrapping paper. You can even decoupage the shade.
- Cover the inside of the jar with glitter. Brush on some tacky glue and sprinkle your favorite color of glitter inside. How about hot pink glitter and a zebra print shade with a black beaded fringe!
- Many of us have piles of old buttons we don’t know what to do with. Why not hot glue the buttons or old jewelry to the outside of the jar. Keep the shade a solid color or paint it. You could also put the buttons on the shade and keep the jar a solid color.
10. Last and best tip ever: change your lamp for the holidays
This is my favorite tip of all and needs its own section. Don’t do anything to the jar or the shade. That’s right, change the look of the lamp with shade slipcovers and seasonal candy!
Make the paper pattern for your shade and get a small amount of fabric, about a half yard would be plenty. The craft store has a large selection of cute holiday fabrics to choose from. Sew or glue the seam using a quarter inch seam allowance. You need a little extra room to slip over the shade. Turn under the top and bottom edges and finish with a pretty trim.
Besides being tasty, candy is also very colorful and festive when displayed in a mason jar. Here are some suggestions to use throughout the year:
Valentine’s day—conversation hearts
Easter—marshmallow peeps, jelly beans
Fourth of July—foil-wrapped chocolate stars in blue, silver and red
Halloween—candy corn. Nothing says Halloween like candy corn.
Christmas—red and green M&Ms, gumdrops, candy canes, peppermint candies
There are so many possibilities!
Another mason jar lamp using a glass plate for a base
Sun face mason jar lamp with animal print shade
Glass plate used as a base for sun face mason jar lamp
I found this 5″ glass plate at Walmart for only $1. It’s meant to be used for candles, but it was the perfect size for my mason jar lamp with the sun design.
E6000 was used to glue the jar and the plate together. It sets up in about ten minutes but takes 24 to 72 hours to cure.
Please share your comments
I love to read your comments, questions or any suggestions you have for creating mason jar lamps.