It’s been a while now since a friend shared these vintage canning jars with me. They sat on the table in my studio for months, waiting for the perfect project.
Paint is usually my default action when I have something to makeover, but I just couldn’t bear the thought of painting these jars. With such a beautiful and rich history, it just didn’t seem right.
I knew they were great for some type of repurpose project, but I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around what that might be – until I remembered a little beaded votive candle holder from a yard sale years ago.
It was perfect. I could repurpose the jars as candle lanterns, bedazzled with white and silver beads, which would nicely accent their heritage.
And the jars could be useful again – all while keeping their gorgeous faces.
Even though I’m using vintage canning jars, this project will work just as well with any jars you have. If you don’t have a ready supply, here’s a few suggestions:
- Shop yard sales and thrift stores.
- check your local Craigslist or other community buy and sell organizations (our area even has a very active Facebook buy and sell group).
- Recycle empty food jars – some pasta sauce jars are very ornate and pretty.
Here’s what you’ll need to repurpose your own jars into candle lanterns:
- 16 gauge wire
- 26 gauge jewelry wire
- beads of your choice
- a pencil (or something similar to shape the base wire)
- wire cutters
- needle-nosed pliers (jewelry pliers work well)
- Start by cutting a length of 16 gauge wire and wrap it around the neck of the jar. 15″ works well for a standard-mouth quart canning jar.
- Note where the wire touches the jar on one side, then wrap that section around a pencil to form a small loop, making sure the loop faces away from the curve.
- Lay the base wire on the side of the jar again to determine placement of the second loop, then repeat step 2.
- Wrap the base wire under the rim of the jar, and cross ends on back of jar.
- Turn jar around to work on the back.
- Pulling the two ends as tight as you can, wrap them across each other to secure.
- Continue wrapping 3 or 4 times.
- Clip the leftover ends of the wire.
- Using the needle-nosed pliers, press the crimp down along the edge of the base wire.
Now you have a strong base to attach your hanger!
Making the Hanger
- Cut another length of 16 gauge wire. A good rule of thumb is about 7 times the height of your jar. I used a 40″ length for a quart jar. You can make it shorter or longer, depending on how tall you want the hanger to be.
- Loosely find the center of your wire, and fold it, creating a small loop.
- Fold one of the ends over and around, creating a second loop.
- Fold the remaining end over and around on the opposite side, creating a third loop.
- Twist the wire 4-5 times below the loops to secure.
Attach the Hanger
- Slide the ends of the hanger through the loops on each side of the wire base, until they touch the table. (This is a good length if you’re using about 7 times the length of wire as the height of your jar.)
- Using needle-nosed pliers, bend the hangers, creating a U-shape. The ends are now facing upward too.
- Starting at the top of one end, carefully twist the wire away from the jar, creating a spiral shape. Continue until the spiral is as large as you like, and as close to the bottom of the hanger as you like.
- Repeat with the second side. You can give the wire an extra crimp here to keep it from sliding up and down in the base loop if you prefer.
Adding the Beads and Candle
- Pour your beads into a shallow bowl and string them along a length of 26 gauge jewelry wire. You can string them randomly, or follow a pattern.
- Start by adding a large bead at the beginning, and wrapping the end of the wire around it a few times to keep the beads from sliding off as you work.
- When you have as many beads as you want, crimp the end of the wire. It’s easier to have too many beads than not enough. You’ll probably removed some from the end as you work, but it’s faster and easier than having to add more while you’re wrapping. On the other hand, if you do run out of wire or beads before you reach the end of your hanger, simply twist the end around the hanger wire and start a new strand. It works just as well, only takes a little longer.
- Starting at the base of the hanger, begin wrapping the beads around the hanger wire. After every third or fourth bead, wrap the jewelry wire around the hanger wire 2 or three rounds. This will secure the strand to the hanger wire and keep the beads from sliding down. As you do this, you’ll need extra slack in your wire. Simply loosen the crimp and move the beads toward the end (removing any beads you need to) then recrimp so they don’t fall off while you’re working.
The Final Steps
When you reach the top of the hanger, twist the beads down the second side, following the same technique as on the first side. Finally, secure at the bottom by wrapping the jewelry wire around the hanger wire several times. Clip any excess.
Fill your jar with as much sand as you like and push a candle into the center.
You’re all done!
If you have a particularly large or heavy jar, you may want to skip the hanger and just wrap a strand around the neck. These make lovely lanterns to adorn tables.
And 16 gauge wire is rated for 50 pounds, so you can safely hang those from porch hangers or garden hooks.
Enjoy your beaded candle lanterns!