DIY Outdoor Tea Light Lanterns

Summer might be almost over, but spending the cool nights of early fall curled up on my patio with a glass of wine is one of my favorite activities. As the result of a Pinterest inspiration, I decided that I would adapt wedding Mason jar lanterns to suit my patio. I created this fantastic (and really pretty) DIY using old glass canisters, glass paint, and battery operated tea lights.

These would also be great for weddings, parties, or just to place in your window. The colors sparkle in the sunlight, and in the evening it creates a well light, soothing cottage chic ambiance that really helps you enjoy that glass of red.

Things you will need:
Clear glass jars with lid
Vitrail Glass Paint, colors of your choice
paintbrushes
nail polish remover, acetone
Battery operated tea lights

Step 1:
The first step is to ensure that your glass jars are clean and free from any residue, left over glue, etc. I ran mine through the dishwasher, and lightly polished with Windex before beginning. Ensure that your jars have been left to dry for at least 24 hours after you clean them.

Step 2:
Paint both the outside and inside of lid. As the glass paint is translucent, I did this to achieve a darker color and create the illusion of a lid. As there was no way to remove the wire without destroying my jars, I painted it as well.

Step 3:
Place you fingers on the inside of the jar in a comfortable position, or, if you like, rig up an apparatus to hold the jar in place which you paint. Paint the entire outside of the jar. Let dry for 24 hours.

Step 4:
Examine the jar. I needed to remove some areas where a buildup of paint left blotches. I place a drop or two of nail polish remover on a cotton pad and lightly buffed. Because I liked the “streaky” look that resulted, I lightly buffed all of my jars in the same fashion. This is personal preference, and if you like the glass after painting that you do not need to do this step.

Step 5:
Prepare tea lights. I purchased these battery operated tea lights off of eBay (Side note: they are also submersible). The first step was to inspect them, and ensure that they worked. After I discovered they worked correctly, I removed the inside of the battery and took out the “Made in China” insert, as this was viewable through the glass.

Step 6:
Using a glue gun, attach the bottom part of the tea light to the inside of the lid. Through trial and error I discovered that the best method is to place glue on the lid, and glue on the bottom of the tea light and then press together firmly. Hold for at least a minute to ensure the light has adhered to the glass.

Step 7:
Re assemble the tea light on the bottom of the lid.
Voila! You now have at least one functioning tea light lantern. If you are interested in owning a set, but don’t want the headache of creating one, please visit my Etsy shop http://www.etsy.com/shop/LittleBitofGlass.

I quit my day job – EEK!

About a year ago, my husband-to-be received a job offer in the town where he grew up. Seeing as how he had not yet graduated, and that many of the class mates from the previous graduating class still weren’t employed (unless you count Tim Hortons and McDonalds) the promise of job security and the incredible compensation package made the decision a no-brainer – not to mention that he would now be living close to his parents again, for the first time in eight years.

So, I quit my job and we packed up and set out to move from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Churchill Falls, Labrador – transitioning from a capital city of 100,000+ population, to a town of approximately 300 people.

Churchill Falls – note: this picture is from the seventies. The size hasn’t changed, but thankfully the embraced the color wheel when they updated the houses a few years ago.

It was scary. When I stepped off the plane I was greeted by huge swarms of black flies and mosquitoes – within a week I was so covered with fly bites that I looked as if I was suffering from shingles. There was one grocery store, which receives a shipment once a week – Thursdays. Milk, lettuce, and other produce are valuable commodities by the time Monday rolls around. There were exactly two restaurants – one which serves typical small town diner fare : hamburgers, sandwiches, pizza, breakfast, etc. The other serves pub food: mozza sticks, onion rings, fries, and wings. There are no stores. No Walmart, no shopping mall – there isn’t even a locally owned and operated department store carrying odds and ends. When I was making shopping lists for things we would need to move, Rob warned me to stock up on undergarments, shoes, stockings, and make up. I’m glad he did, as the nearest store is three hours in either direction – and once you get there, what you need might not be in stock. I’m now an expert online shopper.

There were no employment opportunities which suited my background, and English Honors bachelor with a psych minor (stop snickering). Rob’s sister and my good friend was in town for the summer, and kept me suitably occupied for those first few months. Then she left to teach for the fall and winter, temperatures dropped to somewhere between 20 and 40 below on average, and I found myself snowed it – literally and metaphorically.

Out of desperation I discovered arts and crafts. Ceramics, which were hugely popular in the 80’s, still had a loyal following in the community. There were kilns, molds and a workspace, all of which were available for use for a small membership fee. I assembled my stained glass workshop, a hobby I had pursued in St. John’s with my cousin. I discovered enormously popular DIY communities online and learned the rudiments of sewing, knitting, and felting. After a few months of experimenting, I opened an Etsy shop with the intention of  starting my own business.

One day, Rob came home with a job advertisement – a part time position for a newsletter clerk. The planets aligned; I could get paid to write! I applied, interviewed and got the position. The only problem was that I HATED IT. After punching in five obligatory months, I decided that enough was enough. I quit.

So, here I am – almost right back where I started. Starting today, I’m going to work towards opening my own arts and crafts business, specializing in glass work. Over the next few months, I will be using this blog to post easy DIY’s, helpful business tips for small Canadian entrepreneurs, and more than likely my frustration as I discover why so many small businesses fail within the first few years. I will also include links to my Etsy store if I feel particularly excited about a project that I have completed.

Feel free to comment, ask questions, and share your stories and tips about the frustrations of small town life, and self employment. I look forward to meeting you – and I am really excited for the next year of my life. Enjoy the ride!

Labrador Flag in my dining room window

One of the first stained glass ornaments I have created under my new business. Wish me luck!