while browsing the internet a few weeks ago, i came across a sun jar for sale from urban outfitters for $45. i had never heard of a sun jar before and it looked sooo awesome but, being a broke (and i mean way way way broke!) college student, there was no way i was going to drop $45 on one - so i made one (= six) myself! i am currently very upset with myself because i didn't take any photos of the project as it went along, but i took some photos of the end product.
- frosting spray (i found mine at a.c. moore for $5.50. frosting spray is sold pretty much anywhere that spray paint is sold)
- one package of solar garden lights (i got a package of six at the christmas tree shops for $9.98 but i know that you can buy them individually at lowe's, though they do get fairly pricey. also keep in mind that you will be literally cutting up the decorative part of the light since the only part you really want is the solar panel and battery so don't spend too much!)
- mason or storage jars - you want the same number of jars as the number of solar lights you have (i got storage jars with latches as the christmas tree shops for $1.69 each. they came in all different styles, shapes, and sizes, so get creative! =])
- some sort of tool that plastic can be cut with - i used a drill and wire cutters and, after my experience with the horrible, cheap, crumbly plastic that the particular garden lights that i used were made with, i would say that you would probably have a hard time using an electric saw to get the job done. i think the plastic would be splitting and shooting all over the place.
- optional: epoxy, superglue, or blu-tac
- optional: colored plastic
1. first i peeled all of the awful stickers off the storage jars. i actually ended up scrubbing them with soap and water because the stickers left icky bits of glue all over the jar.
2. next i covered our deck in newspaper and got to the spraypainting! i opened each jar and sprayed the inside in short even bursts with the frosting can. i let each coat dry for about five minutes before doing another one. the jar in the photos has five or six coats of frost. one major tip that i have is to be sure to thoroughly shake the can between jars and between coats!! i didn't and it resulted in a whole lot of clear liquid rather than nice frost, which collected in a puddle in the bottom of one of the jars and does not look very pretty. you can get as thick or thin as you want with the frosting spray.
3. while your jars are drying, you can get to work on the garden lights. i hate using power tools of any kind because i am deathly afraid of them so i didn't want to use a saw or anything to disconnect the solar panel, wires, and battery (which is really the only part you need so if you can find them by themselves somewhere - i couldn't - get those instead because it will save you some work, although this part really isn't hard) from the decorative outsides bits of the garden light. i ended up using a very small electric drill and wire cutters because the plastic was so cheap that i could just break right through it. first, disassemble the light as much as you can with your hands. you should end up with a round piece of plastic with a solar panel on the top and several wires and a battery on the bottom. to get the piece of plastic to fit into the top of your jar, it has to be cut down to size and this is where the drill and wire cutters come in! making sure to avoid all the necessary parts of the light, i drilled several holes into the unnecessary parts of plastic and used the wire cutters to clip away the excess plastic.
4. this left me with a square that was a little bit too large to fit in the top of my jar, so i clipped away just enough plastic so that it seemed almost too big to fit but ended up sort of snapping into place in the top of the jar. be sure that the solar panel is facing outward. i didn't glue mine, but i'm sure that you could use epoxy or even blu-tac if you wanted to make sure it stuck or if you cut the square too small. the battery in the solar light will need to be changed eventually and i just thought it would be easier to change if i didn't glue the solar panel into the jar... but that doesn't mean you can't!
5. this step is optional - my boyfriend and i thought it would be neat to have different colored lights so we decided that since we had six lights, we would leave three white and would make three blue. we ended up buying a cheap roll of colored plastic at the dollar store and used that to change the light's color. i cut a small square (about 2 inches x 2 inches) and folded it a few times so it would produce a nice deep blue color and then taped it into place over the led light in the top of the jar. led lights don't get hot, so it isn't a fire hazard. i have thought about using colored saran wrap if i make some more in the future.
6. you're all done! put your sun jar out in the sun for a few hours and enjoy its pretty light at night! at my house we only have east- and west-facing windows so i can't leave mine in the sun all day unless i put it outside. i've found that my light lasts for about 8 hours if it is outside in the bright sun all day and sometimes for only an hour or so if it is cloudy. the photo of my sun jar lit up was actually taken at 4:30ish in a dark corner of my kitchen - i didn't want it to be so dark that it just looked like a blue blob so i took it when it was lighter outside so you could see the jar itself. it actually gets fairly bright at night... not blinding, but excellent night light.