Spring is upon us and Mother’s Day is the 8th of May this year. Creating something just for her will definitely put a smile on her face. These luminaries made with upcycled glass jars are both thrifty and beautiful. All but the smallest of the kiddos will be able to participate in this easy craft. These little luminaries are a perfect way to gently light up a patio table or a walkway. You can set them on their bases or add a dowel to the lid with a screw and elevate them above the ground a bit if you like. They produce a soft light that won’t be strong enough to light a path, however they do make a nice statement among containers, groupings of plants, on a table or in a fairy garden.

These solar powered tea lights are perfect for luminaries in the garden

craft materials

Use recycled jars for crafted luminaries

The first thing you’ll need to do is gather your materials. Old condiment jars are good. Pickles, relishes and salsa jars are perfect and you are recycling them into something useful. You’ll need some all-weather, RV silicone, the kind that stays flexible in all temperatures. Soap and water clean-up is also good if little ones are working on this. You also need some of the decorative, glass half-marbles that most discount stores keep next to their candles and flower vases. And if you want to add a stake to them, a few wood screws and short dowels. I had some little battery powered tea lights, like you see at weddings and similar events that I’ll be using, however there are solar powered tea lights that will work as well, You’ll need something like a drill with a screwdriver head to attach the dowels to the lids. Make sure the labels are removed and the jars washed thoroughly. Any amount of grease or dirt on the outside will keep the silicone from sticking properly.

Here's a 3 pack of the outdoor silicone and is useful for more than just crafting.

making luminaries

Crafting luminaries

How involved in this process depends on the age of the people making these luminaries. Teens and pre-teens can usually handle it on their own. Smaller kiddos need help. The first thing you do is clear a space where everyone can work. It can get a bit messy. Holding one of the jars upside down with your hand inside, start coating the sides of the jar with a good layer of silicone. Don’t worry if it isn’t smooth or even, this adds to the attractiveness when they are lit. Do not put any silicone where the lid fastens or on the bottom of your jar. Sit it on the work surface and in my experience, let the silicone set up for about 5 minutes. Starting at the bottom, place the flat marbles around the jar. Don’t cram them in, make sure there’s a little bit of space between them as I found that when placed edge to edge, you inadvertently cause the previously placed marbles to pop off. Keep your fingers on the clean bottom of the jar, which is now the top and you can turn it around on the work surface as you place the flat marbles. Once the gems have been placed, give it a few minutes before coating the top part with silicone. If a gem falls off, you’ll need to steady the jar as you stick it back on. When everything seems set up, coat the top part of the jar with silicone and place the very last gems. Even the littlest kiddos can stick these gems to the top since they don’t require much finesse. If you are doing this with very small children, let them finish the luminaries with this type of contribution. Let your new luminaries dry overnight to set the gems properly.

Here's three pounds of flat, glass marbles that are perfect for this craft and many others.

luminaries finished

Light up your luminaries and surprise Mom

Once they are dry you can add the little tea lights. Don’t use actual candles. The first reason is there isn’t enough air in the luminaries to keep them burning and the second one is purely from a safety standpoint, especially if youngsters are around, they’ll want to pick them up. Plan a surprise unveiling for Mom by lighting the luminaries and turning off the lights. She’s sure to be surprised and quite pleased with the creativity of her family. The luminaries can go into the garden or anywhere in the home. They would be nice places with her houseplants, or even on a bookshelf. Be sure to let Mom know she’s the light of your lives.

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