It’s March Break, so I’m trying to keep the kids entertained without plopping them in front of screens the entire time. We’re going to try to do a craft a day, and I thought I’d share what we did and how we did it so that others can use these same techniques this week (or any time, really).
The first craft we did was a fairy light lamp. There’s no wiring required, and for safety’s sake all of the lights are LED and the power source is battery-powered. We’ve all seen a string of lights in a jar, but I thought we needed to do something to take it up a notch. If you’re working with younger children, some of these steps will need adult supervision. The end result should be an ornamental lamp or night light that the kids can be proud of! As a bonus, all of the materials can be obtained at the local dollar store, or can be made of recycled materials for free.
Since there are a few ways to do this craft, be sure to read all of the instructions first, to keep from having to re-do steps!
Fairy Light Lamp
– small sturdy cardboard box with lid
– Mason jar or recycled jar with lid
– string of 20 battery-powered LED lights (or two strings of 10)
– batteries to power the LED lights
– diffusing fabric
– small piece of card or paper (optional)
– craft knife
– duct tape
– paint brush(es)
– heavy-duty scissors
– drill (if using a jar with a one-piece lid)
1. Unscrew the lid from the jar. I used a 1L Mason jar because that’s what fit best with my box, but it’s a very subjective judgement. I also liked the look of a round box, but square or rectangular is fine too. Just make sure it’s the kind of box that has a lid. Don’t worry about a colour or pattern on the box, since it will be covered later. If you want to use a wooden box, that can work too, but you’ll need heavier-duty tools to proceed with the next steps.
2. Trace the opening of the jar onto the lid of your box.
3. Using a craft knife, cut a hole along the line that you have traced. Make sure not to use the knife on a surface that you don’t want damaged, since it will make marks on whatever’s underneath the lid!
4. Make sure that the jar fits into the hole as shown. If the fit is too tight, trim off edges of the hole with the craft knife.
5. Use a few pieces of duct tape (any colour) to reinforce the cardboard around the hole on the inside of the box.
6. Paint the outside of the box. My kids chose a base coat of their favourite colour, then two coats of glitter paint in different colours. We used acrylic paint, since it is more permanent and covers better than kids’ craft paint. Because of this, we covered our table in craft paper first to protect it — and if you look at the paper under the box, you can see why.
Other options to painting include decoupage, stickers, and wrapping the box in pretty paper. No matter what method you choose, make sure that the top and bottom are done separately, since you’ll need to be able to get into the box.
7. Put the batteries into the battery pack of the light string(s). Stuff the diffusing fabric and strings of light into the jar, leaving the battery packs and some cord outside of the jar. I used a cheap tulle (a lightweight, very fine, stiff netting as my diffusing fabric, which is available at most craft stores, fabric stores, and dollar stores in the craft section. A good place to look for this kind of thing is in the Christmas clearance section. You can use a plain colour or one with a glitter pattern. Whatever you choose, the point of the fabric is to make the light from the LEDs softer, hide the cords, and keep it all in place. Arrange the fabric and lights until they are in a position that you find satisfactory. I found that it helped to do so in low lighting so I could see how the light would shine through.
8. Using the heavy-duty scissors, cut a wide slot into the flat part of the Mason jar lid. If you are using a recycled jar with a one-piece lid, using a drill make hole large enough to easily pass the light string through.
9. Cut small strips of duct tape (any colour) and use them to cover the sharp edges of the hole in the lid. This will keep little fingers and the wires from the lights from getting cut.
10. Cover the inside of the lid with a piece of coordinating-coloured duct tape. If you don’t have any, a piece of card or colour in a coordinating colour will also work.
11. Thread the light strings through the hole. If you’re using a piece of card/paper, that should be between the lid and the jar. If you’re using a one-piece lid, you should do this step before you fill the jar with the lights and fabric.
12. Using a piece of duct tape in a coordinating colour, cover most of the hole. If you’re using the card/paper layer, this tape can be any colour. This step is unnecessary if you’re using a one-piece lid.
13. Assemble the parts in the following order:
– box lid
– card/paper (optional)
– Mason jar lid, then Mason jar band OR one-piece lid
14. Put the battery packs into the bottom of the box, then flip the jar and box lid over on top of the box bottom. To turn the lights off and on, just reach inside the box and flip the switch(es). If you like your lights simple, this can be the end of this craft. My kids wanted a bit more fun, though!
15. My girls really wanted to decorate their lanterns with 3D butterfly stickers, so that’s what we did. Honestly, any kind of sticker would work, although shiny ones (especially the faux-jewel kind) would reflect the light better.
My girls made a lantern each in their favourite colours. You may notice that the jars are slightly different because they’re from different manufacturers. The kids didn’t notice, though.
The lanterns look especially nice in the dark, and they throw interestingly-patterned shadows on the wall.
I promised Thing 2 that I would post a picture of her orange and gold lantern all by itself, since I’d done so many of Thing 1’s blue and silver one already.
So there you go! I hope that your kids enjoy making these fairy light lanterns as much as mine did!