Shiny Jar-o-Lantern


I confess, ever since I made all of those Jar-full-o-Yarn centrepieces for my nana’s 80th birthday party I’ve been looking for something to do with the jars that survived my cousins’ rampaging hoard of small children.* I could keep them as they are but I have a very small flat and I have eight jars. We’re at critical mass here. There could be a chintzy meltdown any second. Which, for those uninitiated in ornamental physics, would surely level half of my street. I can’t allow that on my watch, so expect a few jar-themed posts. In summary: it’s not because I love jars, it’s because I have jars, and because I’m a hero.

I can’t explain the thought process that lead to this project. It was one of those moments. Those moments where you have to make something so you can blog about it, and you have to start RIGHT NOW because you work full time and you plan on being very drunk for the next few weekends, and nobody wants to read about your hangover ideas.** In this moment all you have is a jar and a pair of leggings. But suddenly these things stop being completely unrelated objects. Suddenly there is crossover potential. Suddenly a wild idea appears.

I also had these household items lying around:

nail varnish paints

That would be paintbrushes, a shot glass, gloopy old nail varnish, and nail varnish remover.

More niche craft items I used:

clear varnish Silicone Glue

Spray-on clear varnish, and my trusty silicone glue. If you learn nothing else today, learn this: silicone glue is one of the most useful things a crafter can own. There’s no punchline here, because I’m deadly serious.

Essentially what I wanted to achieve was the transfer of the skull pattern from a pair of leggings onto the sides of a jar. This is how I did it:

Firstly stuff a ball of yarn into your legging leg and tie it off with an elastic band.

Don’t be alarmed, it only looks like a stump.***

Next you need to stuff this into the jar, smooth out any wrinkles, and draw over the lines of your pattern with the silicone glue. Once this is done, take your leggings out and leave your jar to dry over night.

skull drawing silicone-d jar

Now get out your old nail varnish, and pour a few drops of nail varnish remover in. Put the lid back on and shake it up. Check the consistency and add more remover if necessary. Go easy. You’re thinning out the varnish to make a paint, basically. If you go too far there’s no going back, and runny paint is no use. It won’t stay within your silicone lines. Keep going until the varnish pours easily out of your bottle and into your shot glass, but still has a consistency which won’t drip.

nail varnish paint

Once you think you’ve got a viscosity level you can work with, start applying paint to your jar.

IMAG0375 IMAG0377
Painted lantern dry

It may take several coats to be finished. I did two, with a third pass to touch up areas that didn’t look even.

Let it dry completely, and then you’re free to start peeling. I liked using the points of scissors to remove my glue. It’s hard to describe the technique, so as a special treat I made a video for you. Yes, people, moving pictures:

Thrilling stuff. That beeping sound at the end was my oven, by the way. I get hungry when I’m crafting, or working, or sleeping, maybe dead.****

The peeling takes a while, but it’s actually really satisfying if you’re the kind of person who prefers to pick their nail-varnish rather than remove it cleanly with chemicals. So, the kind of grungy ol’ goth who’d be reading about how to make a skull lantern using leggings and nail varnish in the first place. If you’ve gotten this far you’re probably my sort of people. It’s ok. We understand each other.

Once you’ve removed as much of the glue as possible, you need to go to a well-ventilated area and spray your clear varnish all over the jar. This is very necessary, nail varnish is too fragile on its own. It will flake and you will be sad.

drying varnish Forlorn Luther

If you’re a flat-dweller, like me, you may need to use a windowsill. If you’re a cat owner, like me, you may be in trouble because His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Luther, Giver of Nose-Boops can’t sit in his favourite spot while the noxious chemicals dry there. I’m a horrid pet owner, it’s true.

Once it’s dry, and night has fallen, light a tee-light and bung it in. Leave the lid off because fire needs oxygen. Remember your GCSE science, it stands between you and darkness in this instance. If that’s too complicated you could use fairy lights with a battery pack.

Jar o Lantern

* There are four of them, but they move around a lot. BACK

** A typical hangover brainstorm:

  • I could write a scathing review of that pattern I once knitted that was unclear about the decorative border on the neckline?
  • Hmmm, maybe I could just write about my thoughts?
  • Maybe I’ll do a video of me talking about my thoughts?
  • Maybe I’ll talk about my thoughts about that pattern that one time, on video?
  • My nose looks huge and my voice is actually making me retch, scratch all of the above.
  • Bookmarks made of felted cat hair. BACK

*** I wonder now if this will be the photo that WordPress chooses to use as a thumbnail for this post when it auto-publishes to Facebook and Tumblr. I wonder furthermore whether I’ll get more hits if my friends think this post involves amputation. It doesn’t, you guys! Go back to watching World’s Fattest Third-Cousin, or whatever. You reprobates. BACK

**** I sometimes fear that there is an afterlife and I’ll spend eternity craving sweet and sour chicken while the means to ingest said meal rots around me. Cremation, please! BACK