DIY Halloween Painted Mason Jar Candle Votives

 
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October, in my mind, primarily exists for 3 events: my brother's birthday, the World Series, and Halloween!!!!!

(Okay, okay, the World Series is a recent addition to that list. I'm trying to become a REAL not bandwagon baseball fan. Luckily, the Giants have made October especially exciting in SF during even numbered years!)

Anyway. I love Halloween. Aside from the costumes and candy, I love that Halloween marks the start of the end-of-year holidays. The aura of excitement and spirit, the festivities and gatherings, and all the special baking and making opportunities; I wish November and December lasted longer than just 2 months!

As I began brainstorming Halloween-themed DIY projects this month, I remembered the case of teeny tiny mason jars sitting in my cupboard, awaiting their transformation into less mundane objects. Inspired by painted mason jars I found on Etsy, I decided to make spooky candle votives!
 

Things you will need:
- Mason jar(s)
- Tea light candles 
- Elmer's craft glue or Mod Podge
- Acrylic paint (I used purple, red, and yellow)
- Foam paint sponge or old paint brush
- Paper plate/bowl/cup (to mix paint & glue)
- Black acrylic paint
- Halloween stickers (optional)
- Black Sharpie permanent marker (optional)

I decided I wanted a spooky dusk scene on my jars, but you could also make little mason jar jack-o-lanterns (using only orange paint), Frankensteins (green paint), or a nighttime scene (blue and/or purple paint).


Instructions:

1. Mix your paint, and then add your glue!

For my dusk scene, I knew I wanted to my paint to go from orange to red to purple. Since I didn't have orange, I just mixed it with my yellow and red. I didn't have any paper plates, but improvised with muffin liners :)
As for how much glue to add, I eyeballed it, but I would do a paint:glue ratio of at least 1:1. If you decide to add more glue than paint, the color on the jar will be more transparent once dried.

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2. Paint the insides of your jars. A few tips:

- Start at the bottom of the jar.
- Rotate the jar as you paint and use vertical brush strokes. They're easier and you'll have an easier time applying an even layer and blending.
Continue to blend with your brush, especially if it starts to drip.
- Paint thin coats instead of one thick coat. Don't use too much glue (you'll see below that mine dripped a lot!). The paint/glue mixture evens itself out as it dries, so don't worry too much about brush strokes or streaks. If the paint/glue dries and you see too many strokes/streaks, you can do another thin coat. (But remember, wait until the first coat has dried!)

 Made a bit of a mess by the end of all the painting

Made a bit of a mess by the end of all the painting

3. Let dry.

I let mine dry on its side, and rotated the jars every 10 minutes or so during the first hour. I ended up leaving the jars a good 24 hours, just to make sure they dried completely.

However, because I used too much glue, the paint/glue mixture dripped a bit and dried before I realized, to my frustration. But you shouldn't have this problem if you only do thin coats, and if you make sure to rotate the jar a few times as it dries.

 Early drying stages: still wet and streaky paint

Early drying stages: still wet and streaky paint

 About an hour of drying: The paint slowly starting to even and blend itself out

About an hour of drying: The paint slowly starting to even and blend itself out

 Completely dried: Paint blended nicely, but excess paint/glue dripped and dried that way! :(

Completely dried: Paint blended nicely, but excess paint/glue dripped and dried that way! :(

4. Add your silhouettes to the outside of your jar.

Important: Before adding the silhouettes, light the tea candle inside of the jar to see where the light shines. Most likely, the light won't be very strong around the bottom 1/4" of your jar, because the candle flame's radiance is obstructed by the candle itself. 
You'll want to put your decals where the light can shine strongly behind it, i.e. not starting exactly at the bottom of your jar.

I drew and colored in my designs by hand with Sharpie, and then painted over them in black acrylic paint. This was pretty tedious and definitely resulted in a more homemade feel, but I was able to paint a big spooky tree over my dripped section and make it a little more customized. If you're feeling confident and don't mind imperfections, definitely go for it! 

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Otherwise, I recommend following my original plan: buying black vinyl Halloween decals, like these, OR making your own:

- Buy stickers of Halloween decals, like bats, witches, tombstones, etc. that are pretty detailed cutouts.
- Paint your stickers with black acrylic paint to hide the stickers' actual colors and turn them into silhouettes.
- Once dried, peel off and apply to the outside of your jar.

 

As I was doing this project, I really wasn't sure they would turn out that well, but I think they turned out adorbs! They'll look great next to my carved pumpkins, which I'll hopefully get around to next weekend!

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And as a P.S., I also feel like sharing some tangential thoughts on DIY and crafting:

Sometimes, when I look at other DIY blogs, it's intimidating to look at their tutorials because they did it so perfectly. I find myself thinking, How did they get it right the first time? Do they not make mistakes?

Well, maybe those DIY-ers really are perfect, but I definitely am not.  You've already seen how my jars ended up dripping a bit when drying. I also wanted to share that this was not my first attempt at making these. I first tried just painting these jars with acrylic paint, no glue, and failed. I probably spent a good hour blending the colors perfectly to look like dusk; they looked great, until I picked them up after drying and the paint just flaked off on my fingers.

After my initial "DANGIT!" reaction, I proceeded to Google "how to make acrylic paint stick to glass." I was worried that I would have to buy special paint, but found that Mod Podge or Elmer's glue was the solution to my woes. And the jars turned out great, at least I think so!

I could have refrained from sharing my first unsuccessful attempt, but then people would think I did it perfectly the first time, which is not true! As cheesy as it sounds, this project reminded me that resourcefulness, persistence, and improvisation might be more valuable traits in a DIY-er than being perfectly creative and artistic!