Introduction: Light Up Your Lighter With Some Art

In this Instructable, I will teach you how to make a decorative lighter, which can make a great gift for someone (smoker or non-smoker). I once saw someone who had one, and it inspired me to find my own way of decorating lighters. After much trial-and-error, I’ve found the best way to go about decorating a lighter, and now I’m sharing what I’ve discovered with you.

Anyone with a few supplies and a little creativity can accomplish this task. However, children should not play with lighters.

Time required
The decoration will take about 30 minutes, but you must wait at least 8 hours after beginning the semi-gloss painting process to use your lighter, as the semi-gloss will be wet (and flammable!).

--Children should not play with lighters.
--The semi-gloss used in the last two steps (steps 6 and 7) is flammable, so do not light your lighter until the semi-gloss is completely dry (at least 8 hours after you begin the semi-gloss painting process).

Step 1: Assemble Tools

First, assemble your tools on a flat surface.

You will need:
--1 standard-size Bic lighter (1'' high x 3'' wide)
--A writing utensil
--Small paintbrush
--Glue stick
--A few sheets of newspaper
--Magazines and/or colored paper and/or whatever images you want on your lighter
--A bottle of clear/translucent semi-gloss*

*Note: Semi-gloss is available most craft stores, such as Hobby Lobby. It is usually located in the model airplane/car aisle, but you may have to get a salesperson to open up a locked cabinet to get it for you. If you are under the age of 18, have a parent or guardian go with you, as people under 18 may not be allowed to purchase potentially flammable liquids at some stores.

Step 2: Cut Out the Background

Choose a background pattern
Decide what you want the background of your lighter to look like. It’s best to use a repeating pattern that can be found in newsprint (the words in an article serve as a great repeating pattern) or in a magazine (sometimes advertisements will have decorative patterned backgrounds that you can use as the background of your lighter). You can also simply use colored paper.

Cut out the background
Once you’ve found your background, use your ruler and writing utensil to draw a square that is two and three-fourths inches on each side. Cut this square out.

Remember not to decorate part of your square
One-fourth of an inch from the border on one side of your square will be overlapped by the other side when you glue this background on your lighter. You may want to measure one-fourth of an inch from the edge of one side and draw a dotted line down the square to remind yourself not to decorate here (see second and third photos below for a template).

Step 3: Cut Out the Foreground

Choose your images
Choose some images from a magazine or printed out online that you want to create a kind of collage with on the background.Your images should be small enough to fit on the background of the lighter, and small enough that they can still be seen when wrapped around a lighter. Try holding your lighter next to the image you want to cut out to get an idea if it is an appropriate one to use. See in the photo below how I laid the images next to the cutout to ensure that they would fit.

Cut out the images
Once you have decided on some images that will fit on your lighter, cut them out.

Step 4: Glue Foreground to Background

Using your glue stick, glue the foreground images to the background pattern.

Keep in mind that only half of the background will be visible at a time
In order to remind yourself how many of the images will be visible at one time, you might want to wrap your background around your lighter a few separate times while decorating (see the second photo below for an example—only half of the woman’s face on my lighter will be visible at a time).

Step 5: Glue Background to Lighter

Using your glue stick, put glue over the entire backside of your background (the side of the background that is not decorated). Place it on the lighter and adjust it so that it overlaps somewhere not too noticeable on the back of the lighter.

Glue the 1/4 undecorated inch to the other edge of the background
After you've positioned the background where you want it, make sure you glue the front of the one-fourth inch that you did not decorate to the back of the other edge of the background, in order to keep the background in place. See the third photo below for an example of how unnoticeable this overlap is when you use a repeating background pattern.

Step 6: Paint Semi-Gloss on Lighter (First Coat)

Now you will need to ensure that the fragile paper background does not rip and that your foreground images do not come apart from the paper, destroying your beautifully decorated lighter. Painting the entire lighter twice with clear semi-gloss ensures that your lighter will be durable—and even water-resistant.

In this step, you will paint the first coat of semi-gloss, then wait four hours for the lighter to dry. In the next step, you will paint the second coat and wait four more hours for it to dry, equaling a total of 8 hours drying time. When your lighter is completely dry, in 8 hours, it will be finished and usable.

WARNING: The semi-gloss used in this step is flammable, so do not light your lighter until the second coat of semi-gloss is dry (at the end of the next step).

Paint the first coat
Place your newly-glued lighter on a piece of newspaper or other surface you do not care about dirtying. Shake the semi-gloss before using. Then, using the small paintbrush, paint semi-gloss over the entire lighter (see first photo below). I recommend using vertical strokes, painting from top to bottom until you have painted the entire lighter. You may want to hold the lighter by the silver part at the top while you paint. Use enough semi-gloss to saturate the lighter, but not so much that the gloss begins to drip (you will be able to tell when you've used too much semi-gloss, as the gloss will begin to drip down the sides of the lighter as you're painting it. This won't ruin your lighter, it just makes a bit of a mess.)

Leave the lighter to dry
When you are finished painting, stand the lighter up on the newspaper and place it somewhere out-of-reach, so that you do not knock it over.

Wash your paintbrush
Remember to wash your paintbrushno more than 10 minutes after painting. If you do not, the semi-gloss will dry on the bristles, becoming caked and ruining your paintbrush.

Wait 4 hours
Wait 4 hours for the first coat of semi-gloss to dry before proceeding to the next step.

Step 7: Paint Semi-Gloss on Lighter (Second Coat--4 Hours Later)

After much experience, I've realized that one coat of semi-gloss is not enough. Painting a second coat further ensures that your lighter will be durable.

WARNING: The semi-gloss used in this step is flammable, so do not light your lighter until the second coat of semi-gloss is completely dry (at the end of this step, 4 hours after you paint the second coat).

Paint the second coat
After you have waited at least 4 hours since painting the first coat of semi-gloss, shake the jar of semi-gloss and repaint your lighter, again using vertical strokes. Put the lighter back in its out-of-reach spot to dry.

Wash your paintbrush
Again, don’t forget to wash your paintbrush within 10 minutes of use to prevent ruining it.

Wait 4 hours
Four hours after you paint the second coat, you will have a dry, finished decorative lighter! See the photo below for my finished example.