Skip directly to content

Creepy (Recycled) Jar Lanterns


  • jars
  • white glue
  • water
  • paint
  • decorative items like skulls (optional)
  • creepy cloth (cheap netted curtain panels they sell at dollar stores at Halloween. You could also use cheese cloth or any thin, thready material)
  • glue gun or epoxy

Part 1: Haze the Jars

It's very simple to age jars. First, soak them in hot soapy water. This not only cleans the jars but softens any labels they might have.

Most labels won't come off in one try. When it softens (and this could take 30 mins to an hour), peels off as much as you can, then put them back in the water.

If it has stubborn glue residue, steel wool works great.

Now that they are all nice and clean, it's time to get them dirty. All I did to give them a grimy coat was pour about a 1/8 to 1/4 cup water into the bottom of the jar, added a squeeze of white glue, stirred, and then rolled the jars to coat the sides. Then I poured the glue mix from one jar to another, turning each one. It creates a nice glaze.

After the initial cloudy stain, I mixed a touch of brown paint with a bit of white glue and watered it down, just like I had in the first step only this time, the brown was darker. I swirled it around the bottom of the jars and turned each one so a few streams lined the sides.

Then I mixed some white glue, black paint, and some water together. The aim was to create soot or grime stains at the top of the jar. I dipped a piece of cloth in the mix, then dabbed it along the inside rim and top of the glass. Dab, smooth. Dab, smooth. Dab, smooth. When they dried, I found some had a bit too much black, but it easily wipes away with a bit of water (I just used my fingertips).

Part 2: Decorate

I took some netted cotton/wool material (pieces cut from the large cloth net-like material they sell at dollar stores as Halloween curtains that are meant to decorate window dressings or doorways), wrapped it around the outside rim of the jar, and tied it with a knot, snipping the ends off. I then mixed black paint and water with Sculpt or Coat (you could easily use - you guessed it - white glue), and brushed it over the cloth.

To finish them off, I took a collection of skull castings I've been saving for a long time now (they were test castings done by the Davis clan, and her royal Frog Queen was kind enough to let me take some home when I visited). I coated the back of them with quick-drying epoxy, and stuck them to the outside of the jars (you could use a glue gun to attach them if you didn't have epoxy).

As a finishing touch, I put a thin coat of black wash (diluted black paint) into the crevices of the skulls.

Because they are glass jars, you can put actual tealight candles in them. I chose, instead, to create a number of LED candle stubs.