Craft: The Recycled Jar Lantern

If you are looking for an inexpensive project to add a little light and ambiance to your outdoor space, you can easily create your own hanging lantern. The glass jars that you (hopefully) recycle can be turned into beautiful, rustic lanterns using very few supplies. I created many of these for my wedding reception, and the result was simple and charming!

Recycled Jar Lanterns

Recycled Jar Lanterns

Here’s a little How To so you can make your own hanging jar lantern.

Step 1: Gather the materials. You will need:

  • The glass jar: I love using Classico jars. They are atlas mason jars underneath the label! Lots o’ character. Just use hot water to remove the label.
  • Wire: 20-gauge works well.
  • Needle-nose pliers: I wouldn’t recommend plain old scissors.
supplies for the jar lantern

Supplies Needed to Make a Jar Lantern

Step 2: Loosely wrap the wire twice around the neck of the jar and cut. Do not wrap it tightly at this point. Twist the ends to hold the wire in place around the neck, but again, don’t do this tightly just yet.

Step 3: Measure your hanging wire. To do this, make an arch around from one side of the neck to the other. Consider how you want this lantern to hang. I like the top of my hanging wire to be about five or six inches from the neck. Once you’ve “measured” your arch, double that length, add an extra inch or so of wire to that and then cut!
measureing the arch wire

Measuring the Hanging Wire (arch wire)

Step 4: You doubled the length of the arch wire so it can be bent in half and twisted together. First, make sure the cut ends are even, and then you can begin to twist the two pieces of the wire together. This part can be a little tricky so you just need to find what works for you. I wrap the loop end around my finger and twist that way. If you have a sturdy hook on your wall somewhere, you could place the loop there to twist or braid the wire together.  Just remember to twist the loop section at the end also.
Hanging Wire Loop

Twisting the Hanging Wire (arch wire)

Step 5: Now you are ready to put it all together! Slip each end of the wire you twisted for the arch into the wire wrapped around the neck. You may need to use your pliers to gently make room to slip the arch ends between the neck wire and the jar. After you have about an inch and  half of the arch ends of wire positioned between the jar and the neck wire, bend the ends of the arch back to itself to hold in place.
Finishing the Hanging Wire

Finishing the Hanging Wire

Step 6: Begin to tighten the wire around the neck by twisting the ends together. Make sure this wire sits underneath the entire neck of the jar so it will be held in place by the neck ridges. Be careful here, especially if you are using the pliers to help twist, since the wire can break. Twist the ends together until the wire is taut around the neck and the arch feels secure. You should have excess wire here after you’ve twisted it tightly, so you can curl those pieces for design.
Step 7: Wrap each bent end of the arch around itself to secure. If you have excess wire for the arch ends, you can also curl them to make them part of the design.
Tightened, Curled and Wrapped Wire

Tightened, Curled and Wrapped Wire

Step 8: It’s time to fill your lanterns. I filled mine with sand, but you can also fill with small rocks (if you plan to use candles, make sure your filling is not flammable). Don’t fill these too much since they will be heavy – only about the bottom quarter of the jar should be filled.  Then place tea lights atop the sand or rocks.
Your jar lantern is now ready to hang! I recommend hanging with S-hooks so you can easily take your lanterns down to light or extinguish the tea lights.
The Completed Lantern!

The Completed Lantern!

This project is much more difficult to describe than it is to actually do, so don’t be afraid to try it. You may have to practice once or twice, but soon enough you will be able to make these easily. However, if you have questions, feel free to post in the comments. Enjoy!
The Lantern at Nighttime

The Lantern at Nighttime

Leave a comment


  1. What a great idea! Love it! Need to start saving some jars.

  2. Valerie

     /  July 21, 2011

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this. You are so talented!

  3. This is one of the most innovative things I have heard of lately. And so very doable! Amazing.

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