Turn old jars into magical garden luminaries with this simple, frugal project. With glass gems from the dollar store and solar votive lights, they will make your garden sparkle at night.
For more, also see 35 Playful and Practical Garden Projects for Kids.
DIY Jar Luminaries with Glass Gems
I started making these garden treasure jars when my kids were little and they wanted to make their own garden art.
Made from used food jars, you can decorate them with glass gems (flat-bottom marbles)—or whatever you like—and place them in the garden. Tiny toys and secret notes can be hidden inside—like little time capsules in your garden.
Glass garden art projects like this one look really beautiful outdoors with the sunlight shining through. You can also add little solar lights to have them glow in the evenings as well.
The small size of the jars makes this a quick and easy craft for kids and adults.
Be sure to read the instructions so you know the glue that really works!
Before You Start
1. Read over the instructions and material list and use your judgement whether this project would be suitable for your kids.
2. Have an adult handle the silicone sealant/adhesive – read the product label carefully and follow all manufacturer instructions for safety, application, and drying times.
3. I specifically recommend one brand of silicone sealant (to use as an adhesive) -listed below- because it works.
If you substitute for another product, your glass gems may not stick to the jars or will fall off later—research your glue first!
Make Your Own Luminaries
You might want to make a whole bunch of these at once. They would look fabulous lining a garden path or surrounding an outdoor patio.
Pick a color theme for the glass gems or mix it up like the colors in a flower garden.
You could also use them as indoor or outdoor votive candle holders (use solar tealight candles) or a place to store small items.
How To Make Garden Treasure Jars
Garden Treasure Jar Materials
- Used glass jars with lids
- Flat-bottom marbles (see them at Amazon.com) also called ‘glass gems’.A 4-inch tall jar needs approximately 75 half-inch flat-bottom marbles.
- GE II Silicone Sealant (clear, waterproof-buy the stuff made for either gutters and flashing or windows and doors.If you are new to using silicone sealant as an adhesive, read these tips first.
- Solar tealight votive candles
- If you want to stand them in the garden—Wooden post or dowel and ¼” wood screw.or Copper pipe and end cap (see one at Amazon.com).
TIP: There’s often a few smaller-sized marbles in each bag. Set these aside and use them to fill in any odd-size gaps as you work.
- Place the jar upside-down, so the lid/opening is on the table. Cover the sides of the jar with silicone sealant. I do the bottom of the jar last so I can put my fingers there to steady the jar while applying marbles to the sides. Sealant washes off hands with soap and water.
- Attach flat-bottom marbles to the jar, working in circles from bottom to top, leaving room for the lid to open and close.
It’s important to work from the bottom up so that the marbles rest on each other in rows: this way they won’t slide around while the silicone sealant is drying.
- Last, cover the jar bottom with silicone sealant and attach the rest of the marbles.
- Allow to dry.
To Mount The Jar On A Post
- Punch a small hole in the jar lid. I used an awl and a hammer for this.
- Attach the lid to the top of the wood post with a wood screw. OR glue a copper pipe cap to the outside of the jar lid, allow to dry, and place on copper pipe.
The jar screws onto the lid on the post:
Be sure to hide a note and a treasure inside the jar.
Attach the jar to the lid on the post. If your kids are rascals like mine, you might even find out later that the treasures have been switched out for something you weren’t expecting.
And, if you want to light them up at night, add some solar-powered votives!
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛
How to Make Garden Luminaries (Treasure Jars)
Supplies & Materials
- 1 Jar
- 100 Flat marbles
- With jar upside-down, start just below lip of jar. Add dabs of adhesive to backs of flat marbles and firmly attach in place.
- Work in circles, adding new marbles as row below dries in place. Allow time to dry per instructions on product label.
- Attach jar lid to wood post using wood screw. Set votive in place and twist jar in place.