Halloween Craft: Jar-o-Lanterns

Here’s another Creative Solution that uses recycled materials to make a Halloween craft called a Jar-o-Lantern.

Originally, I saw the Jar-o-Lantern craft in a Women’s Day magazine about two or three years ago; now it’s also all over Pinterest.  My kids love to do it every year because it’s so simple, easy, and fun.  Of course, part of the Creative Solution is to adapt it according to your needs/desires.  Some suggest decoupaging orange tissue paper onto a jar… others suggest painting… Some focus only on pumpkins… others suggest the same varieties of characters that I painted in the Carnival Cans Craft.

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Supplies Needed:

  • Jars – clean inside and out
  • Paint & Brushes – Definitely use Acrylic paints!  Tempra will peel off.
  • Votive or electric candles

Jars: We recycle a ton of jars (from peanut butter, pickles, and salsa).  I started saving the jars and found that it’s easier to remove the label and glue immediately rather than waiting until I am ready to use them later… old glue is harder to remove and I’m less likely to actually follow through on the project if I have to spend the time to clean all the old jars.  While there’s a ton of suggestions for how to remove the label and glue, I find the easiest is to simply soak the jar in a container of hot water with some blue Dawn dish detergent overnight.  Then label scrapes off pretty easily and I wash it before storing.

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Paints:  The first time we painted the Jar-o-Lanterns, we did all pumpkins.  This time we painted the jars similar to the Halloween Carnival Cans Craft.

  • Decide on your painting scheme, and apply the base coat in your chosen color.  You only need one coat of paint, the thinner the better (since these will be luminaries and glow).
    • Orange for pumpkins
    • White for ghosts
    • Green for Frankenstein’s Monster
    • Purple (or lavender) for Dracula
  • Let the jar dry completely.
  • Add decorative details… let it dry.

Light: Add either a tea light candle or an electric votive (usually available in a 2-pack for $1 at the Dollar Store).  My boys love keeping theirs in their bedrooms, in which case the electric version is the way to go.

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Cleaning vs. Painting Grout

I’ve got tile floors with what-was-once-white grout.  My Creative Solution for nice clean, white grout is to paint it.  Here’s why:

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I’ve seen the Pinterest pins for cleaning grout.  I further researched grout cleaning formulas online.  I tested methods side-by-side (the one time I cleaned the grout myself, several years ago).

Here’s my findings:  The best way to clean grout is elbow grease.  A lot of it.  (Wrist-throbbing elbow grease, at that.)  It hardly matters which concoction of cleaner you use.  It is remarkably satisfying–instant (cleaning) gratification–since it looks awesome once you clean it!  However: once you clean it, you will need to seal the grout or it’ll get dirty again super-quick.  

It was that unpleasant truth (needing to add a sealer) that prompted me to consider painting grout.

The paint comes with a sealer built right in.  One bottle will be enough for an enormous amount of space.

Funny story: When I went to the Home Improvement Store to purchase the grout paint, I followed the instructions on the back of the bottle and calculated the square footage I would need… except instead of square footage of grout, I calculated  square footage of floor.  Pro-Tip: one bottle will be more than enough for two rooms.

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Supplies you’ll need:

  • 1 bottle of grout paint
  • 1 old toothbrush (perfect for “scrubbing” the paint into the grout)
  • (optional) paper plate to pour some paint on to… or just repeatedly dip your toothbrush in the bottle
  • some wet rags

Wash the floor really well before you start.

  1. Scrub paint into a grout line
  2. Wipe the excess paint off the tile with your wet rag… careful not to wipe up the paint itself
  3. Repeat for all the other grout lines

The paint dries relatively quickly, but you really shouldn’t wash your floors for 72 hours (following the directions on the bottle).

It does take a long time to complete, but looks amazing and is far less painful on your wrists than scrubbing.

Painting on Glass and Ceramic

Painting glass is an inexpensive, easy craft.  Seriously easy.  And ridiculously inexpensive.  But if you’ve never done it before, it can be a little intimidating.

A while ago my Mom had asked her adult children, their spouses, and her grandkids to each paint a 4″ square ceramic tile so that we could provide a homemade tile countertop for an outdoor bar.  Mom asked that we consider going to a paint-your-own-pottery place.

Now I love those places, but they can get expensive.  I gleaned a tip from Pinterest that said you can buy the ceramic tiles from Home Depot or Lowe’s for $0.16.  So that’s what I did.  Next I found the kinds of paints needed for the project at Michael’s.

Folk Art Enamel Acrylic Paint for Glass and Ceramics

Folk Art Enamel Acrylic Paint for Glass and Ceramics

The box of Folk Art paints was purchased at Michaels for $17.99, minus a 40% coupon ($10.79).  It has a great variety of paint colors and includes directions on the back for how to heat set.

First I had the kids paint some tiles, then I got my siblings and our spouses to sit down, drink wine, and paint two tiles.

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It was fun, easy, and quick.  Here’s what we learned:

  • Have a bottle of rubbing alcohol handy.  First use it to clean / prep the surface.  Then if you make any mistakes, you can either use a q-tip with rubbing alcohol to erase or simply wipe it clean and start again.
  • Other supplies needed: paint brushes, paper towels, newspaper (or other drop cloth), water to clean brushes.
  • Wine is optional.

The instructions suggest either air dry for 21 days or air dry for 1 hour, then place in a cool oven, bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, and cool in oven.   Heat setting was pretty easy, especially if you let it cool in the oven overnight.  Start out in a cool oven so that the items slowly get hotter and won’t break.  Start the timer for 30 minutes once the oven comes to temp.  Then turn the oven off and let the items slowly cool (so they won’t break).

It was so easy that I decided to try painting on glass.  I purchased a few matching pairs of small glasses from the Dollar Tree and painted a couple of glasses for my kids,  I approach painting like glorified coloring.  I stick to basic shapes and patterns.

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Lego Glasses painted on Irish Coffee Mugs

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Train and Rocket painted on glass mugs

I chose these size glasses because they are appropriate portions for my kids.

Getting the glasses from the Dollar Tree meant that the glass itself was thicker and sturdy.  And they were inexpensive… if they turned out looking crappy, I wouldn’t be devastated,

Since the paints aren’t food safe, it’s recommended that you avoid painting along the top lip of the glass.

After heat-setting, the glasses are top rack dishwasher safe.

The kids loved them!  Coincidentally, the same Christmas I gave these glasses to my boys, my sister-in-law gifted our family with a set of drinking glasses from Uncommon Goods:

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These are adorable!  The instructions recommend handwashing, but note they may be ok for top rack dishwasher.  Well, between wooden cutting boards, good knives, pots and pans, and special platters, I don’t have room in my life for more things that aren’t dishwasher safe.  So I decided to try the dishwasher…and 3 out of 4 glasses were fine.  But the decal on the 4th glass (my younger son’s) half peeled off.   And he was devastated.  While trying to figure out whether to spend $12 for a replacement glass, plus shipping, I accidentally knocked my older son’s glass off the counter and shattered it on the tile floor.

So that night, after FaceBooking my parenting fail, I grabbed two glasses from our cabinet and attempted to paint our own “Family Glassware.”  A very helpful tip here is: sketch out the drawing on a piece of paper, tape it to the inside of the glass, and then trace over it in paint.

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Homemade “Family Glasswares”

The kids loved them!  In fact, I decided to start painting glorified stick figure glasses as birthday presents for my friends’ kids.

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I’ll ask their Mom’s what their favorite colors are, and paint their clothing accordingly… along with hair the appropriate color and style,

When painting glass, the same tips apply:

Use rubbing alcohol to clean the surface of the glass.

Use rubbing alcohol to clean the surface of the glass.

  • Use rubbing alcohol  to clean / prep the surface.  Then if you make any mistakes, you can either use a q-tip with rubbing alcohol to erase or use a paper towel with rubbing alcohol to simply wipe it clean and start again.
  • Other supplies needed: paint brushes, paper towels, drop cloth, and water to clean brushes.
  • Heat-set the glassware the same as ceramic: either air dry for 21 days or air dry for 1 hour, then place in a cool oven, bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, and cool in oven.   
  • Since the paints aren’t food safe, avoid painting along the top lip (1/4″ to 1/2″) of the glass.
  • Wine is optional.

To help prevent the paint from chipping or peeling in the dishwasher, I have started to seal my painted creations with a clear medium.  There is a bottle included in the Folk Art kit I referenced above, but if you buy containers of the acrylic paint separately, consider getting this as well.mXQkJMzLzAtzQ368mJYpkJA

I’ve had such success with painting glasses that I decided to paint a slew of them for my son’s Lego birthday party favor:

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First I printed a copy of the mini-fig head I would paint, and cut it out.

Then tape it to the inside of the glass.

Then tape it to the inside of the glass.

Then trace the border with the outline color (black) paint.

Then trace the border with the outline color (black) paint.

Fill in the rest of the color and design.

Finally, fill in the rest of the color and design.  And paint the “clear medium” to seal it in before heat setting.

I purchased these glasses from IKEA.  The GODIS glasses were $6.99 for a 6 pack of 8 oz glasses, which made for a party favor costing just over $1 per kid.  I painted their names on the glasses as well, which all the kids loved.

You can easily print and trace whatever design for whatever themed glassware you’d like.  For instance, superheros:

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Or instead of glassware paint a vase…

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So it’s up to you!  What kind of Creative Solution will you create with painting glass and ceramics?