The wheel of the year turns, and we now find ourselves smack-dab in the middle of fall. And while each season comes with its own joys and challenges, the approaching colder months can be especially trying. Don’t get me wrong – I love the cooler weather of fall, and it’s riotously bright colors. I love the apple-picking, the pumpkin-carving, and the whole feast of Thanksgiving. It is truly my favorite season.
And yet, it all comes with a bit of melancholy. The shorter days and more time spent indoors means less exposure to natural sunlight. And since we’ve harvested most of the remaining garden (save for a few cold-hardy greens) and most of our outdoor projects are complete, I feel conflicted between the satisfaction of a job well done and the sadness that comes with the demise of my gardens. And there is also the realization that fall is but a short time of transition and that winter is well on its way (and winter is most definitely not my favorite season). And so by the middle of fall, as I start spending more time indoors, I find it’s a good time to do some indoor projects and crafts. Doing fun projects keeps me busy, and eases me into the cold, dark seasons of the year. Making anything seasonal, cozy, or holiday-festive helps to occupy my mind and my hands and keeps my spirits lifted.
This fall lantern is one of my favorite fall crafts. It’s an easy project that the kids can help with. It’s very rustic but glows with a little bit of fall magic. If you are like me and enjoy simple, natural decor, this DIY lantern is for you. And it requires only a few simple supplies – a few craft basics, plus a jar, a leaf, some paint, an LED tea light, and some filler for the lantern. I like to fill my lantern with natural material, but use whatever you have on hand. Here I’ve used red lentils, but other types of dried beans or acorns are nice, too. Some glass pebbles or even shredded colored paper would work. And although I love the warmth of candlelight, please be safe and use an LED tea light, not an actual candle in your lantern.
If you try this project, let me know in the comments how it turned out and enjoy the warm glow!
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- Smooth-sided glass jar (size of your choice)
- Fall leaf
- Sheet of paper
- Fine-tipped Sharpie marker
- Chalk-style paint in your favorite fall color
- Small bristle brush
- Foam brush or foam pouncer
- Dried beans, acorns, stones, or shredded colored paper for filler material
- LED tea light
- Clear polyacrylic (optional)
- Start by choosing a jar. You'll want something that has at least one smooth side with no embossing.
- Next, you will need to go outside and collect a leaf that will fit your chosen jar. An oak leaf or maple leaf works well.
- Trace your leaf onto a sheet of paper, and then use scissors to carefully cut out your leaf shape.
- Position your paper leaf cut-out on the jar and loosely adhere it using one or two pieces of rolled-up tape (sticky side facing out) - it just needs to be temporarily fixed in place while you trace it.
- Using a fine-tipped marker (use a marker that will write on glass without smearing), trace the leaf pattern onto the jar. After the leaf shape is traced onto the jar, remove the paper leaf pattern.
- Use the small bristle brush to paint the outline of the leaf on the jar. Be sure to paint slightly inside the line so that you paint over the marker line.
- Use a foam brush or foam pouncer to paint the rest of the jar, painting around the leaf. You want the leaf area to be an open window into your lantern. And don't be alarmed if the first, or even second coat looks streaky. It will take 2-3 coats of paint for it to all even out. Just be sure to allow the paint to thoroughly dry between coats (at least an hour.)
- When the lantern is painted to your liking, fill the inside with a few inches of the filler of your choice. Turn on your tea light, and nestle it into your lantern.
- *Optional: You can cover the whole lantern in a layer of clear polyacrylic for protection. I don't do this because I leave my lantern indoors, and dust it with a dry cloth when needed. If you are going to put your lantern in a more exposed location, like a porch, you may want to apply a coat of polyacrylic.