Saturday, April 14, 2012

Where's the sunshine?

After a couple of days of warm spring sunshine, I decided it was time to make something that's been rattling round in my brain for a while.  Mr Owls and I like to sit outside in the garden whenever the sun is shining, only returning indoors when it gets a bit chilly.  However, after replacing our clay chiminea (after a pet related incident with a lead and an excited dog) with a metal one, the temptation to stay out into the evening with a cosy fire warming our toes is pretty strong!

A bit of ambient lighting in the garden never goes amiss, and I love fairy lights, candles and all things bright to make the outside space seem warm and welcoming.  So - I made these.

They were really quick to make, too!  I got the artwork from a book I bought at an art materials sale at my college:  "Floral Patterns" from The Pepin Press (Agile Rabbit Editions) which has a CD-ROM so you can download the patterns to use on your own projects.

If you want to have a go, here's what you need for each one:

A clean glass jar (I used a coffee jar with the label soaked off - try to peel it off in one piece, to use as a template)
An A4 sheet of tracing paper (for the dahlia jar) or an A4 sheet of printable acetate (for the paisley jar)
Some heat-resistant double sided sticky tape
Scissors or a craft knife, ruler and cutting mat (to save ruining your work surface)
A small church candle or a tealight candle
An inkjet printer
Your chosen design (download one of your favourite photos, or use some free downloadable images - scrapbook sites have some lovely ones)

Measure your peeled-off label - mine was about 675mm long by 74mm high.   This is the size of your wrap-around image.  If you can't get the label off in one piece, don't worry, just wrap a piece of newspaper around your jar, mark the ends, top and bottom of where you want the paper to wrap, and make your template that way.

Get your chosen image on screen, and using software like GIMP or Photoshop, crop and resize your image to fit your label measurements.

Print your image.  I've found that while the acetate paper behaves itself beautifully, the tracing paper likes to curl up as it comes out of my printer, and the ink is still wet in places.  So, carefully take the printed tracing paper out of the printer and lay it flat somewhere to finish drying.

When your printed image is dry, lay it out on your cutting mat and trim it.  Nearly there now!

Place a strip of double-sided tape down one side of your clean, dry glass jar.  You might notice a faint seam in the glass from the manufacturing process - that's a good guideline to keep your tape vertical.  Peel off the backing from the tape, and position one edge of your printed image on the tape.  Now just wrap the tracing paper/acetate slowly around the jar, until the edges meet over the tape.  Press down with your finger.

That's it - you're done!  Put your candle in the jar, light it, stand back and admire your handiwork.  As you can see from the photos, the tracing paper gives a lovely soft glow when your candle is lit; the acetate is more like stained glass.  The jars do get very warm, so best keep them out of the way of small children.

I find it quite difficult to get tealights lit once they are inside their holders, so I make a little holder by cutting a length of firm but bendy wire (sorry, I have no idea about gauge or thickness, trial and error for me!), wrapping one end around a narrow jar or bottle - I used a can of body spray! - to make a circle for the tealight to sit on.  Put the wire inside your jar, and bend the end over the top of the jar so you don't inadvertently stab yourself with the sharp end.  Now you can lower your tealight or candle into the jar without burning yourself, and lift it out easily to replace it when it burns out.

You might have some old drinking glasses that have gone a bit frosty in the dishwasher - you could recycle them by using them for this project, rather than just throwing them away.

I'm also working on a way to cut empty wine bottles to use instead of coffee or jam jars - that's still a work in progress at the moment!

I'd love to see your pictures if you decide to have a go at this project - it's very satisfying, and they do look gorgeous lit up in the garden.

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