I am a sucker for a cute jar. I inherited the obsession from my mom. Whenever I buy jam or chutney or a good mustard, in the back of my mind I’m considering the shape and size of the jar and how I can repurpose it later. I had already saved up a bunch of jars when I was inspired to turn them into globe lights for our porch. The bonus? That the jars were free (recycled)! So, for the price of just a few hardware supplies I made this…
Let me walk you through the steps I came up with…
1) Start collecting jars. I planned on making two 25-light strings, so I had over 50 in various shapes and sizes. Or, you could just buy some canning jars.
2) Gather your supplies. I used two strands of 25′ large clear lights (bought on sale after Christmas), 55′ of 1/16″ cable, aluminum clamps for the cable, and hooks on which to hang the strands.
3) Take off all of the jar lids.
4) Set up a workspace for drilling holes in the lids. You will need three different drill bits (a small one for the pilot hole, a bit to screw in your screws, and a large bit for the light hole). We happen to have a bunch of drills so my dear husband set up a different bit on each one. But even if you just have one drill, this will work. You’ll just have to switch bits a lot. Note the scrap piece of wood clamped to the work surface. And the snow drifts of saw dust.
5) Drill two holes near the outer edge of the rim. Make sure you use a bit big enough to accommodate the size cable you are using. This is a 1/8″ bit.
6) Set two screws into those holes, just far enough to hold the lid tightly to the wood.
7) Use a huge drill bit to create a large hole in the center of the lid. (These are similar to the ones we used.) You want the hole to be large enough for the light socket to fit through. It’s OK if the bulb itself won’t fit through, because you can unscrew it from the socket, insert the socket, then reattach the bulb. I found that these huge bits would dull after much use, so I ended up using various sizes from the set, and it worked out fine. The screws holding the lid in place are essential to keeping the lid still. Trust me on this.
(Note: If you’re using canning jars, you’ll simply do these steps to the flat lid. You won’t worry about the ring yet.)
Also, many of my lids did not come out as clean as these pictured. Many of the cuts are lopsided and torn. Because these lights would be hanging above our heads on the porch, I didn’t worry too much about how they looked, as long as they functioned.
Keep in mind, this cut metal is very sharp.
8) Once all of your lids are prepared, you may choose to paint them. About half of mine were gold toned, so I just separated the ones that weren’t and sprayed those gold. But, first I primed.
Don’t forget to flip them over to spray that little bottom rim. That’s the edge that will show from below.
9) Next reunite your lids with your jars. This may take a little while, if you’re using different shapes and sizes like I did.
10) Then line your jars up in the order in which you want them to hang on the light string. Think about any obstructions your lights might encounter. For example, for the lights that would hang over our door, I used shorter jars.
11) Grab your cable and tape off the end. Cut right through the tape to give yourself a protected point.
12) Starting at one end of your line of jars, take the first lid and string the cable through the small holes. Make sure the loop is formed on the underside of the lid and the cable comes from and leaves the top of the lid.
(If you are using canning jars, you’ll want to place the lid inside the ring before you do this step.)
To easily shift the lids along the cable, use a finger to hold out the loop while you’re pulling the cable through.
13) Continue stringing the lids onto the cable, making sure to keep the lids in the same order as the jars (if they are various sizes.)
14) Once all of the lids for the strand are in place, space them out approximately as far as the lights are spaced out. Plug in your lights to be sure the strand works, and lay it out along the cable.
15) Insert each light into a lid. You may have to unscrew the bulb as I mentioned in step 7. I clipped the light hook through the cable (as seen below), though I’m not sure that is necessary.
16) Once all of the bulbs are paired with a lid, create a loop at one end of your cable. I used these aluminum clamps made specifically for this 1/16″ cable. (Please forgive the black caulk under my fingernails.)
17) Place your hooks. I pre-drilled to make things easier and cleaner.
When it gets difficult to turn the hook, use a sturdy tool as a lever to help turn the hook.
18) Hang your cable, leaving the socket end of the strand loose.
19) Drape the strand, positioning it as you wish. Be careful to space the lids so that the cable carries the weight of the glass jars, not the rubber light string. You can shift things around a bit once the jars are in place, but you want the wire cable to be just a little bit shorter than the light strand itself. At the other end of your strand, finish with a loop as in step 16 above.
Now, screw the jars into the lids. Shift the lids to make sure the weight is on the cable, as described above. See in the photos below how the cable is taught, but the green wire is loose?
Once everything is in place, plug in your lights. I used a long white extension cord to reach the outlet. What a joy it was to see everything work! For a few days I waited for the cable to break or the jars to start falling. But, it has held up very well!
I had worried that the various shades of gold would look tacky, but it turns out the lids are hardly noticeable.
I am just so pleased with the way this project turned out. I love the varied shapes and sizes of the glass. It brings so much character to our porch. In the evenings these lights bring just the right amount of ambiance and warmth to the setting. I’m hoping they’ll last for many years.
I’m also linking to Serenity Now Weekend Bloggy Link-up!