When the Pantry at Delancey and I decided to co-teach a DIY Dinner Party class, the pressure was on to come up with some fun and unique ways to dress up the tabletop while being quick and affordable. While all three projects we did fit the bill, I have to say this project was the fan favorite. I have come to coin these as my “poor man’s glassybaby” votives. Glassybaby votives are ah-mazing and these in no way truly replace their beauty but the fact that you can take any glass jar and transform it into a painted votive makes it an affordable way to add some color here and there.
My favorite to make was the Mama. I found this at a local hardware store but customers have told me you can also find it at Target. Talk about a new version of the hurricane candle holder. So here’s a glance at what we’re making today:
The only hard part of this project is waiting the 21 days for the paint to cure. While you don’t have to wait, I highly suggest it to be safe due to heat, washing and any other high touch for the paint surface.
Hand-Painted Mason Jar Votives
-Two mason jars or other clean glass jars
-Two Acrylic craft paints – you choose your colors plus white for gradients
-Eight ounces Acrylic paint medium
-Four Stirring cups (these, ideally will be wide enough to let the jar drain into for drying, w/o it touching the bottom)
-Kraft paper or other protective surface cover
-Paper towels or old but clean damp rag for wiping paint
Step Two: Get your paints ready. For highly translucent jars, use less paint and more medium. and vice versa for more opaque finishes. For 8 ounce-sized jars, use about a nickel-sized dollop of paint and then half a finger’s depth of medium to create a highly translucent wash. For more opaque use about a quarter-sized dollop of paint and about a quarter inch of medium.
Do a test for the viscosity by swirling the paint/medium mixture in your stirring cup, if it moves really fast then your ready for a translucent finish. If it moves medium fast to kind of slow then it will be opaque.
Step Three: Once you have your medium and shade levels close to what you want, pour the paint mixture from the stirring cup into the jar. Scrape the excess in but don’t worry too much as you may do this a couple of times. Once it’s in, hold your jar over the stirring cup at a slight, downward angle, turning the jar in circles to evenly coat it with the paint. You may need to go back and forth in your turns, using gravity to your advantage to get it all over.
You may notice that the paint is acting like molasses. This is where adding more medium can be helpful. A little at a time, add some, stir it up and then keep coating – you can either do this in the jar or in your stirring cup with the leftover paint. Mix it up and then keep coating it until the majority of the jar is completely covered.
When you get to the top of the jar, carefully keep turning over the mixing cup so you catch your dribbles. Turn at the downward angle and you will catch a bead that will go to the very edge so it’s even. If not – again no worries. These little guys have charm whether or not it’s perfect. You can use a paper towel to catch major excess..
Step Four: Once it’s completely coated, turn it completely upright, top facing down, into one of your empty, extra stirring cups so that it drains into the cup. I used another mason jar since I love the reverse effect of the drip. Check the exterior and wipe off any paint that might have attached to the outside. Check back every couple of minutes.
Repeat steps one through four for your second votive. If you want a lighter shade, or different color, either add white to your current mixture or new color. If the same color, you can use the same stirring cup.
Step Five: Keeping your paint out. Check in on your votives to make sure that it’s not getting too drained of its color or needs another coat. Pick it up out of the stirring cup and check in with it. If it’s translucent than you can turn it over without much worry of it showing a ton of drip. Let it dry further upright, top facing up. Once it’s dry to the touch, place it in a dry, safe from debris area and let cure for 21 days.
If you want to do an extra coat, do so now and then drain for less time afterwards (maybe just three to 10 minutes). The key is not having a big pool at the bottom once you turn it upright. Clean your utensils, wash off any misplaced paint with water as soon as possible and dispose of your non-reusable goods.
Once cured, your hand-painted votives are ready for primetime and can be washed on the top rack of the dishwasher (if needed).
You can use these prior to 21 days but please note that they might endure stress if used with tea lights. Placing sand or other heat safe rocks at the bottom will help protect the bottom from heat as well as keep you from having to pull wax off.