In my family, all the women over the age of 18 do a Christmas Present Swap. In the swap, instead of trying to think up a unique idea for each person, you come up with a single idea and create a bunch of that one idea.
See last years gifts here: http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=288564
See my mom's gifts for this year here: http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=332071.0
This year I remembered how hard it was to come up with a unique idea for each journal and I wanted to do something that would end up being a little easier. So as I was cruising the internet looking for ideas, I stumbled across several DIY sites that talk about creating a homemade "Sun Jar". This just seemed so cool and very impressive so I decided to make this my project this year! (Please forgive the poor quality pictures. I only had my phone to take them with as my camera is dead)
Lit and Unlit
The idea of Sunjars is that they have a solar panel to collect energy during the day and then they turn on and glow all night.
I started by looking at what would be needed. Since I planned to make about 20 Sun Jars, I worked up this list of materials:
Solar Garden Lights (x20)
Glass Jars (x20)
Hot Glue gun and sticks
Glass Frosting Spray
I started by ordering the Solar Garden Lights online. I looked in several places trying to find the cheapest lights I could because I had to be able to afford to buy 20 of them. Eventually I found these at Amazon.com for about $3.00ea.
A closer view of what the individual units looked like:
To disassemble the units, I had to twist the clear plastic piece off the top of the black top piece. At this point the bottom looked like this:
And the top looked like this:
I opened the battery door and removed the rechargeable battery to use later, and removed the three screws to open the unit up. The inside looked like this on the top:
(You can see the housing for the battery above and the simple circuit board in the center)
and this on the bottom:
(You can see the back of the Solar panel and the light sensor to the right of it)
Each of the four pieces had to be removed from the black plastic. I carefully pried the circuit board out of the pieces holding it, I used a razor knife to cut the plastic around the battery housing, I used a knife to score the glue around the solar panel so I could press it out from the otherside and I used a flathead screwdriver to pry the light sensor out of the hot glue. After all the pieces were liberated, I used a Hot Glue Gun to attach them to each other, the battery housing to the back of the solar panel, and the circuit board and light sensor onto the battery housing. When assembled, it looked like this:
(You can see the LED sticking off the top of the circuit board, which is glued on top of the battery housing, which is glued on top of the back of the solar panel. The sensor is not pictured.)
Repeat until they are all assembled:
(I used a charged battery to test each assembly at this point to ensure that nothing had been damaged)
The next step was to frost the jars, which I got from Ikea. I got the "Slom" jar in the 17oz size for $3.00ea. These jars are made from glass and have a water-tight seal, which means my completed sun jars can live outside on a porch safely. I used Valspar Glass Frosting spray to coat the inside of the jars after rubber banding a garbage bag around the jars to protect the outside of the jars from the spray. (I thought about simply spraying the outside of the jars, but the spray can states that the frosting effect can be scraped off with a thumbnail, so I sprayed the inside of the jars for the sake of longevity). When the frosting spray was applied in three coats and allowed to dry, the jars looked like this:
Once all the jars were sprayed, it was time to glue the assembled guts into the jars. I used Hot glue to accomplish this by gluing the four corners of the solar panel onto the inner flange of the jar lid. When completed, it looked like this:
(The LED easily clears the lip on the far edge as the lid is closed.)
I was concerned about how well the hot glue would be able to hold the assembly into the jar, so I took a completed jar and dropped it onto a carpeted floor from about chest height. The assembly didn't move in the jar, so I feel confident that the jars could be accidentally kicked or pushed off the rail of a porch onto the grass below without breaking the jar.
To add the finishing touches, I tied a ribbon around the outside of the jar with a cute little bow. I also included a tag that explained what the jar does. I charged the batteries and installed them on Christmas morning so they would be at full power when they were presented.