Friday, August 10, 2007

Fireflies in a Jar Light

By wishujoy

Plastic or glass jar (the one I used was the size of a large pickle jar)
Plastic or silk plants and/or flowers
Short string of mini lights (I used a 10 light string of battery powered "Wedding Party Lights")
Styrofoam for the bottom of the jar (to insert the plants in)
Felt or acrylic paint to cover the Styrofoam
Glue: Aleene's tacky and E-6000 are good
Large paper clips or floral picks
Misc jar decorations (I'm using plastic bugs and lizards)
Tall floral picks for the lights cut to length needed
Rubber bands and one large rubber band to fit around the jar

Step 1: Prepare the lights (fireflies). For the wings I cut some of the leaves from the plants that was shaped like an oval or kind of like a blade of grass, then glued two leaves to the outside of each light socket (the part that holds the bulb) just don't get the glue in the socket or on the bulb. I used Aleene's tacky glue for this. While the wings are drying you can start on the jar.

Step 2: Poke several small holes around the outer edge of the jar lid. (your battery pack will be in the middle of the lid.) This is to let the heat out from the lights. If you're using a plastic jar, I used my wood burner with the small pointed tip to make the holes. For a glass jar with a metal lid, I used a nail to punch the holes.

Step 3: Cut your styrofoam to fit inside the jar, to get a snug fit, cut your styrofoam the size to fit in your jar and cut it in half to get it to fit down in the bottom. Now you're ready to cover the styrofoam. If using felt: cover the sides first so that the top piece will cover any overlap. Fit it down snug into the bottom of your jar, adding glue to the bottom if neccesary. Now glue on the top piece of felt to your styrofoam.
If you're using acrylic paint: paint the whole thing and let dry before placing. Before gluing my styrofoam down I added a few small rocks between the covered/painted styrofoam and the side of jar.

*Pic 3

Step 4: Next you need to straighten out your paper clip (I used needle nose pliers) or if using floral pics skip that step. Slowly push it into the bug (being careful not to push it all the way through or it may get your fingers.) Now you're ready to place/insert your bug in the styrofoam. If you want a critter or two crawling up the side of the jar you can either place a small amount of glue on it's feet and tummy and glue it to the jar or use a floral pick and place him against the jar then hide the pick with plants.
*Pic 4

Step 5: Cut plant stems to the height you want them but not so tall that your lid won't go on the jar, now you can start inserting a few plants.

*Pic 5

Step 6: Okay, it's time to start placing your lights (fireflies) around in the jar, start with the end light wrap it on a pick and insert it in the styrofoam, I cut the first picks and placed the lower lights first then worked my way up hiding the string as I went, you may want to more plants to help hide the string as you go. The last and highest lights (fireflies) will be at the end with the battery box. I put a rubber band around the jar to hold the battery pack up close to the top, this made it easier to work with the lights.
*Pic 6

Step 7: Secure the battery pack to the lid. Glue a piece of velcro to the lid and the other piece to the bottom of battery pack. This is so you can remove the lights and replace them if you ever need to.
I used my wood burner to put a small hole in the open end of the battery pack and on the lid. Then I stuck toothpick in the holes and put a small bolt and nut through them to hold the pack on the lid. (this was before the velcro idea and I'd already taken the pic)
*Pic 7

Step 8: Decorate the lid to hide the battery pack, making sure not to cover the vent holes. I covered mine with an easy ladybug.
To make the lady bug:
One 5 inch styrofoam ball cut in half ( you only need one half)
One 1-1/2" Styrofoam ball
Black acrylic paint
Small foam brush (any brush will work, but the foam brush seems to work better)
2 wiggle eyes
Red felt for wings
Black felt for dots
Aleene's Tacky glue

To make the body cut the 5" ball in half. Place the battery pack on the flat side (the tummy of the ladybug) & mark the outline of the battery pack onto the styrofoam. Hollow out a place for the battery pack to fit in, you can use a knife or a spoon, but take small amounts at a time so you don't break it.
Now take the small styrofoam ball (the head) and cut a slice of it off so one side is flat then cut a small slice off of the top of one end of the body.This creates the flat surfaces needed to join the head and body together. Paint the head and the body black, let dry.
Once the two pieces are dry, Cut your red felt circle in half and put glue on one side of the felt, place the glue side on the body so that the wings show some of the black in between the wings and carefully press/smooth the wings down on the body working from the top down. Let dry. Then glue your dots onto the red wings.To connect the head to the body, break a toothpick in half and stick them in the flat part of the head, put some glue around the picks and on the flat part of the head, now place head with the picks on the flat part of the body and push to two pieces together. While that is drying you can glue the eyes on the head.

After placing your ladybug over the battery pack when dry, your firefly jar lamp is finished!

Some other material options:
Instead of painting Styrofoam, paint the inside of the jar so the styrofoam won't show, glue a single layer of small rocks to the side of the styrofoam and cover the top of the styrofoam with moss.

Paint the floral picks or paper clips green to match so they aren’t noticeable

If you can’t find the mini lights on green “strings”, (thanks to Mamo for the great idea) you can paint your light string green and just glue some leaves to the string of lights

Other jar theme ideas:
Small toy cars, dinosaurs, fairies, butterflies, miniature tea sets. The possibilities are endless!

I used these when making mine: