By Lisa Shrewsberry
Mine end up beneath the sink, their bands scattered hither and yon. The ability to can fresh things and store up for winter, as far as lineage goes, died here.
What Mason jars I do possess were inherited from my husband (who had every intention of canning, but never got around to it) and leftover from my mom’s donation of tomatoes, green beans and other preserved garden things to the family pantry.
“Bring my jars back,” she’ll say come canning season. But, since I always forget to give them to her, they continue to take up space in the subterranean parts of my kitchen, save for the one soap scummy jar holding a scrub brush, the unimaginative nail holders in the garage and a few sacrificed each year as lightening bug or frog observatories for the kids.
You know what they say in craftdom — one woman’s junk is another’s inspiration (I’m not sure if the crafty actually say this, but I relinquish all rights).
Photographer, stylist and design blogger Lauren Donaldson’s new book Mason Jar Crafts breathes life into the timeless glass icon, with 30 interesting DIY ideas for repurposing Mason jars or jar bands, divided into categories by purpose: home décor, parties and presents, weddings, kids and holidays.
Donaldson encourages, “Anyone with an appreciation for design and a creative mind will see the Mason jar for what it really is: a blank canvas.”
Try out these two sample projects from Mason Jar Crafts to preserve a homemade original of your own. If this is your first crafty adventure in a while, just remember, “I think I can, I think I can…”
Mason Jar Crafts by Lauren Elise Donaldson, published by Ulysses Press, is available at Amazon (www.amazon.com) and Barnes & Noble (www.barnesandnoble.com).
Framed Family Silhouettes
Difficulty Rating: Moderate
Most homes are adorned with all kinds of family portraits, these photographs being among some of our most cherished possessions. But if you’re looking for something new and crafty to spice up your walls, these framed silhouettes would be a fanciful detail that any DIY enthusiast will love. Each member of the family can shine on their own jar. Include grandparents, godparents, cousins, even pets — whichever members make your family special. And once you trace everyone's silhouettes, save those files on your computer. You can use them repeatedly in the future for a variety of craft projects.
Half-pint-size Mason jars
Large rustic frame
1. First make silhouettes of each of your family members. The easiest way to accomplish this is by taking a picture of each person in profile. Upload those pictures to your computer. Use photoediting software like Adobe Photoshop to trace around the outline of each person. In Photoshop, use the lasso tool to do this. After tracing, fill in the outlines with a solid color and then lay them out on separate pages for printing. Size each profile to about 2 x 2 3/4 inches. This size is ideal for half-pint Mason jars.
2. Print your silhouettes. Use an X-Acto knife with a sharp blade to carefully cut out each family member’s profile. Do your work on a cutting mat.
3. Turn over your silhouettes and lay them out on butcher paper. Brush on a coat of decoupage glue with a paint brush.
4. Remove the metal bands and lids from the jars. Center each silhouette on a Mason jar. Firmly press the paper so that it adheres to the glass.
5. Space out the Mason jars on butcher paper. Use one or more colors of spray paint to coat the jars. Allow the paint to dry before proceeding.
6. Use your X-Acto knife and craft tweezers to carefully pull up the paper silhouettes.
7. If any paint has seeped underneath the paper, you can scratch it away with an X-Acto knife to clean up the edges.
8. Cut a strip of ribbon for each jar. For this example, the ribbons were 10 inches in length, but this will vary based on your specific frame. Notch out a triangle from each end of the ribbon.
9. Super-glue each end of the ribbon to opposite sides of the Mason jar. Hold the ribbon in place for a minute while the glue dries. Repeat this for each jar. Super glue can often take a full 24 hours to fully adhere.
10. Figure out placement of the jars within the length of the frame. With a pencil, mark the center point of each jar along the inner edge of the frame.
11. Screw in a teacup hook at each center point.
12. Hang the Mason jars from the teacup hooks. Prop up or hang the frame in your home.
If you don’t own Adobe Photoshop or something similar, try Pixlr’s free online photo editor (www.pixlr.com). Its basic functions are a lot like Photoshop’s. In this program, you can also use the lasso tool to trace your silhouettes.
Mini Ribbon Chandeliers
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Do-it-yourself party decor doesn’t need to be elaborate and tedious. In fact, an impromptu party is even easier than you think with a simple idea like this one for mini ribbon chandeliers. Their small size makes them manageable. Using supplies you have on hand, you can complete one in about 20 minutes. Group an assortment to make more of a statement and impress guests with all the frills and fringe. And once the party is over, these chandeliers look just as sweet hanging around your home.
Mason jar bands of various sizes
Ribbon in various materials and colors
Hot glue gun and glue sticks
1. For each chandelier, cut a 20-inch piece of yarn.
2. Take one metal band and one piece of yarn. Double-knot both ends of the yarn onto the band, placing them across from each other. Repeat this for each chandelier.
3. Cut various pieces of ribbon, lace, string, yarn, and velvet to size for each chandelier. Vary the lengths for a more eclectic look. In this example, the trimmings were cut down to 15 to 22 inches in length.
4. To make muslin strips, cut a small square of muslin the same length as your other trimmings. Along one edge, cut little incisions spaced at about 1/2 to 1 inch apart. Take each sliver and rip it from the muslin square. The fabric rips fairly straight and the edges look frayed and natural.
5. Take your first piece of trim, put a dab of hot glue on one end, and apply it to the inside of the metal band. The trim should come up and hang over the outside of the band. Continue this all the way around until the entire band is covered. You do not need to follow a specific pattern. Instead, place trim at random and visually compose each chandelier as you go.
6. Hang your chandeliers, grouping them for a more stunning effect.
The texture of your trimmings will drastically alter the character of your chandeliers. For something sleek, use satin ribbons and metallics. For a rustic version, use burlap strips and jute twine. Translucent materials will give a soft, airy impression. Heavy cottons and colors will be bold and substantial.
A large group of these chandeliers would be impressive at a wedding. Compose a large grouping of them as a unique alter display or have them highlight the dessert table as a backdrop.
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