To help you try different art mediums so that you can find your niche, I’m sharing with you the mediums that I tried on my art and craft journey. Use my experience – and if you can, try painting glass jars. You’ll find you might like it. You’ll certainly have some colourful jars to gift or use as art and craft supplies holders, stationery holders, or LED light lanterns.
The next thing I tried was glass painting. I had a few glass paints that I had bought many years ago. Yes – some were even bought in 1990.
I was wanting to get back into my art and crafts, so I thought I’d use up some old glass jars, and use the glass paint at the same time.
My glass jar painting experiment
In my exercise, not much thought went into designing what would be painted on the jars. I just put on some glass paint outliner, waited until this dried, and then filled in the area between with glass paint. The main purpose of the exercise was to use up the paint, and to get familiar with how the paint spread – and looked – on the glass. I didn’t measure, or stencil, but just free-handed the design as I went around the jar.
Painted jar examples
See some of the examples below.
I liked doing the glass painting, so I thought I’d keep going. I still had a fair bit of glass paint left.
This time, I drew the outliner and chose the paint colours to be placed on glass jars.
Not just any colour was put down, only the colours that would be harmonious together.
In this exercise, I also decided to decorate the glass jars.
I bought wire, ribbon and craft beads and placed them around the jar. See some of the examples below.
My trying this glass painting medium was not quite done yet. I thought I’d keep learning how to paint jars.
Learning how to decorate the painted jars
Yet, I needed further inspiration. Lindsay Weirich (The Frugal Crafter), has informative art and craft lessons, and this included showing jewellery making techniques. I had some jewellery making tools in my art and craft stash, so I thought I’d make some jewellery with the wire. I researched further on how to do jewellery wire making.
Bluprint had a free online class by Heidi Boyd on how to make wirework jewellery. I watched this lesson, and it helped me figure out how to connect wire and beads.
Then, I then made some jewellery with wire, and craft beads and added them to the painted glass jars. However, no ribbon was placed around the jar as the ribbon covered the beads.
Decorated jar examples
See some of these examples below.
Glass painting is a great solution should you need inspiration on what to make for school fetes, as Christmas decorations, or just to brighten a dark area. Also, use up your old glass jars at the same time.
Here’s how you might be able to paint and decorate your own jars.
How you can paint glass jars
Step 1. Find and wash your jars
If you want to try glass painting, the first thing you need to do is to find some old glass jars. As a first, try smaller jars, say some jam jars that have a nice shape to them, or that may be easy to paint. If you want to use your jar for LED lights, make sure the opening is large enough so you can place the lights in the jar.
Thoroughly wash the glass jars that will be painted. Remove all the sticky labels. You can use a citrus based cleaner, or use methylated spirits to remove any sticky residue. Wash the jar again and let dry.
Step 2. Make your design
Next, think about what you might paint on your jar. You could be like my experience, and just free-hand your design. I recommend using a paint outliner to keep your paint colours separated, and in their own little area so they don’t run into a nearby colour.
You can cut a piece of paper and place it inside the jar. Make sure that the paper fits the size of the jar. Remove the paper, and then draw a design. Then put this back in the jar. It will be your design template and will remain inside the jar while you paint. Perhaps fill the jar with rice, or something similar, to keep the design in place. Use this design to put the outliner on the glass.
You can even go a step further, and colour in the design on your paper, as this will help you know which colour to paint in each space.
Step 3. Choose your paint and colours
Next, get out your paints – I used Pebeo Vitrail transparent glass paint.
Pebeo has two different glass paint types. Vitrail is not water soluble, so you will need a paint thinner to thin the paint and to clean your brushes. Items painted with this paint should only be used for decorative purposes, and not used as food utensils. They should also should not be washed. If they’re dirty, a quick wipe is suitable, but shouldn’t be wet for too long.
Pebeo Vitrea 160
The second type of glass paint available from Pebeo is Vitrea 160.
This paint is water soluble, so it is less messy to work with. Your brushes can be washed in water.
Also, when used according to instructions, this product can be washed. This paint is baked in the oven so that it is waterproof, and can even be used in the dishwasher.
While cured items painted with Vitrea 160 can be placed in a dishwasher, The FAQ’s for Pebeo Vitrea 160 state that only surfaces not intended to be put in contact with food be decorated. For example, it is possible to paint the underneath of a glass dish – so you can see the design through the glass, but the food sits on the unpainted upper side of the glass dish.
What to buy
Both the Vitrail and Vitrea 160 are available for purchase at art stores. To save money, think about the colour combinations you would like to use in your painted jars.
But keep in mind that the colour combinations you want to use may be limited by the colours available at the shops.
Make your choice on the type of paint you would like to use.
Buy your paint. You should only need 2 or 3 colours that go together. Make sure you purchase an outliner if you want a traditional stained glass look, and you want to keep your paint colours separate.
Step 4. Paint your glass jars
Now set up your painting area. If using the Pebea Vitrail paints, work in an area that you will have good ventilation. Make sure you’ve got newpaper, or some covering placed over your work area that you can clean up quickly. Don’t forget the paint thinner, and rags to clean your brush between painting colours and at the end of your painting session.
If using the Pebeo Vitrea 160 glass paints, also have good ventilation available, a covering over your work surface, rags for clean up, and water to clean your brush. While Pebeo Vitrea 160 is water soluble, do not thin this paint with water. Pebeo recommends that only the Vitrea 160 thinner is used to thin this paint.
Paint whatever you desire on your glass jars. You can place your paper template inside the jar, or draw free-hand. If using the outliner, put this on first, before the paint colours, let it dry completely, and then apply your paint colours. Don’t forget to let the coats dry between painting. Depending on where you live, this could be overnight.
Step 5. Decorate your jars
Once your paint is dry, you can decorate your jar. You can use my examples above, and get ribbon and wire that will match the paint colours. However, you don’t need to decorate with ribbon and wire, but using ribbon hides the ridges on the jar where the lid fitted the jar. The wire also helps you to lift your jar without fingers touching the paintwork.
Just make sure your wire is tight, and that there is no slippage that would allow the jar to slip off the wire and break.
Using your craft wire cutters and wire, cut the wire to a length that will go around the surface of the top of the glass jar – with some extra to allow the wire to be secured together. Also cut enough wire to act as a handle. The wire around the jar top will be threaded through this wire ‘handle’. If you want, thread some beads on this wire ‘handle’ for extra decoration.
Be sure to secure the wire ‘handle’ tightly to the wire around the lip of the jar, and that the wire ‘handle’ is tightly secured to the rim wire.
Next – cut the ribbon to cover around the top of the jar (with some extra length to help secure). Also, cut some smaller lengths to fold into a bow (if you’d like).
After you have placed the wire and secured it and the wire ‘handle’ to the jar, put some PVA glue on the wire around the jar lid. This will be the glue to secure your ribbon to the jar. Then fold your ribbon (for the bow) and place a dob of glue on the ribbon parts to secure them. Then put this bow on the ribbon around the jar.
When the PVC glue on the ribbon has dried – you now have a nicely decorated glass jar.
However, please be mindful that the wire and ribbon on the painted jar act as decoration – and the jars are not meant to be carried by the wire handle.
A pretty reuse and recycle
By painting some old glass jars, you have used up some jars that could have gone to landfill, and now have a jar that you can use to decorate your home over the winter and Christmas period. You can give these as gifts, or donate them to your school fete.
Uses for your painted glass jars – Lights on display
You can use your painted glass jars for a variety of uses. You can use them as item holders or as light displays. I use them for both.
For the best lighting effect, place a short string of battery-operated LED lights (10 bulbs) inside the jar. This way, the LED lights light up all the jar, and not just one part of the jar. Plus, they are not a fire hazard, and can be placed safely in your home.
You can buy the short 10 string LED lights online. I bought the LED lights used in the images below from Aldi. They cost about $5.00 in 2018.
Have a look and see what the painted jars and LED lights look like here.
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