I am absolutely in love (my husband says, obsessed) with solar landscape lights. What is not to like about solar lights? As long as they get a good bit of sunshine during the day, they are maintenance free, wire free and relatively inexpensive. And, there are now so many varieties of lights to choose from that any size, shape, theme or other landscape desire can be accommodated. We’ve actually become skilled at reusing panels from worn or broken devices and adept at replacing batteries in dimming items – allowing our inexpensive solar purchases to last even longer. (See the below pic of the perfect fit on a beer glass of a solar panel that used to be on a now-shattered, ceramic dish.)
One of my favorite types of solar décor is the spotlight that doubles as a rock during the day. Most I’ve found come in gray and that’s wonderful if it fits your brick or color scheme. If not, there is a cheap, fast and easy way to make these work. Simply tape up the panel and lens using shipping tape, spray on a little paint to match your soil or mulch and the fake boulders will magically disappear into the landscape. The pictures below show how our fake rocks are very inconspicuous during the day, but at night, spotlight our potted palm and cow skull/bird bath beautifully.
My obsession – umm I mean – love has now migrated over to fairy lights. Fairy lights are strings of lights that have bulbs much smaller than twinkle lights. And, by the way, solar fairy lights do exist and you’d think I’d be in heaven over that fact, but, for recycled kitchen jar projects there simply isn’t enough space to fit the needed solar panel! For the most part, I’m using the fairy light jars to decorate indoors (or on the protected patio) anyway – although I admit they’d look really great placed around outdoor areas too. If using outdoors, I’d be sure to bring them inside when not in use to avoid water seeping in from rain or sprinkler systems.
I have decided to work with the tiniest of fairy lights that are displayed on silver strands and are powered by coin batteries.
First of all, I make a point to save any and every glass jar that we use in the kitchen – including those that hold spaghetti sauce (my favorite because they offer a wide mouth), hot sauce, ketchup, jelly, cold drinks, etc. I also have a second favorite recycled jar (sweet tea container) that has the shape of Texas embossed on it. I haven’t quite figured out my plan with the Texas embossed jars, but most likely they will have a western flare to them.
Next, I use a product to help take off the label glue from the jar. You can also try dish soap and a scratch pad if you want to use some elbow grease. I then wash the jar and lid in the dishwasher. Once sparkling clean and dry, I store the jar for a few days while I spray paint the lid a color to my liking and let it dry. And you guessed it, I like oil-rubbed bronze!
I then go to my favorite online shopping site – Amazon.com – and order a few packs of small, inexpensive fairy light strands. Consider paying about $6 – $8 a strand. Sometimes you can find a 2 or 3-pack for less, so be sure to shop around. I’ve stayed with white lights, but you can find red, blue, green and other colors as well. You will find the battery pack on these types of lights can be stacked or side-by-side. Tip: Although it can be a tight fit depending on the way the battery pack is designed, the battery conceals pretty well if you use Velcro, super glue or otherwise to adhere it to the underside of the jar lid.
After the above steps are completed, it is time to get creative!
There are an infinite number of things you can add or do with a recycled glass jar to personalize it or give it a theme:
- Nothing but lights! I must admit I like clean glass jars with simply fairy lights enclosed. The light strands are very pretty on their own.
- Paint the interior with glow paint. This is a little tricky, because it is hard to paint the interior of a jar, especially small-mouthed ones, but I managed to easily make a polka-dot design using glow-in-the-dark paint and a very small, narrow paint brush. I recommend abiding by the “less is more” adage when it comes to painting jars – after all, you do want the light to shine through. What is really nice about this project is after the fairy lights are turned off, the jars continue to glow for a while. I think this would be an awesome night-light project for kiddos.
- Add marbles, decorative stones, medallions and/or seasonal glass shapes. I layered stones and lights and created a couple of really nice fall décor pieces. I gave one to my mom for her mantle and I kept one for myself. It adds a touch of the season to my office!
- Add natural items, such as sticks, rocks, stones, acorns and leaves. This idea is really inexpensive! Simply find some natural jewels around your yard and intersperse the fairy lights around them. If you need assistance, I’ve found using a plastic knife or a pair of chopsticks helps direct the fairy light wires into the jar. On this one, let me add caution – I picked up a few acorns for my “au naturale” display and it wasn’t long before I found a little worm had emerged and was wiggling toward the light! I’m all about nature, but I don’t wish to raise worms inside my house and I doubt do many of you! I’d suggest baking the acorns for a bit before using them (this is my own acorn advice I didn’t take) or simply realize that you need to check your display from time to time for issues. Be prepared to dispose of it once the season is over.
- Same as above, but paint the natural items. Probably an easy way to avoid bringing worms, bugs and mold into your house is to first, spray paint the natural items you wish to display in your jar. A colleague of mine suggested painting twigs white before placing in the lighted jar to create a serene, wintry scene. Sounds beautiful to me! I would venture to say metallic or glittery paint on the natural items could create an instant holiday theme if you wanted a little more sparkle.
- Lightly glue photographs and/or announcements to the interior wall of the jar. The lights would simply be placed in the center to provide a glow. I haven’t tried this yet, but I think it would be a great a wedding, anniversary or new baby gift. Of course, I suggest the larger mouth bottles/jars for this one!
- Super glue or hot glue glass stones to the exterior of the jar/bottle. While researching what to do with the interior, I came across an article describing how to create a beautiful candle holder from a recycled jar by hot-gluing glass medallions to the exterior. I admit, it does look beautiful. I would think a strand of fairy lights would look exceptionally well inside! P.S. The blogger predominately uses mason jars and found solar lids for one project! Double bonus tutorial! http://momspark.net/diy-easy-mason-jar-luminaries/
I commend any and all of you that recycles glass to the bin. However, you might think about storing up a few recyclable glass jars in the garage or under a cabinet for when that creative urge takes hold next time. For me, the urge comes near the holidays and/or when the weather keeps me indoors.
As I said prior, there are a number of ways to decorate glass jars with fairy lights. Above are just a few ideas. I believe if you give recycled glass jar fairy lights a try, you’d be surprised to find just how creative you truly are!
Until next time,