Introduction: Stained Glass (faux) Mason Jar Lamp

This beautiful addition to any home is sure to draw admiration from all that see it. As we all have our likes and dislikes, I can't think of anyone I've heard say, "I don't like the look of stained glass". This project can be done by almost anyone as it requires no expensive technology, advanced techniques, or hazardous processes.


  • 1 Quart mason jar (spaghetti or salsa jars I prefer because the surface of the glass is all smooth). For consistency, I selected a mason jar.
  • Simulated Liquid Leading (for the black lines). I have chosen Gallery Glass leading which comes in 4 and 8 oz. sizes. The small size is fine for several projects.
  • Window Color (Gallery Glass brand), or glass stain. Sunny Yellow 16004 Ruby Red 16015 Royal Blue 16012 Pumpkin Orange 16429 Shimmer Sapphire (purple) 17494 These are the colors I used if you want to duplicate the design.

  • Plastic surface that is smooth, non-porous and flat for making the leading lines. A plastic binder or the side of a plastic tote are some examples. I have used Gallery Glass Leading Blanks.
  • 1 sheet of paper (8.5" x 11" for either printing the included template or designing your own).
  • Tape Measure
  • Scissors
  • Tape (gift wrap/scotch)
  • Utility Knife or sharp cutting instrument.
  • Rubbing Alcohol (for keeping glass jar free from skin oil)
  • Rag, small
  • Light Source, choose one of the following,
    1. Battery operated string of led lights.
    2. Small string of 20 Christmas lights (led or incandescent).
    3. Light socket (size C7) with on/off switch and wall plug*. An led or low watt incandescent will work.

    * If you choose the plug in light socket, an appropriately sized hole will need to be cut in the lid to hold the socket. I used a rotary tool (Dremel) with metal cutting disk and a round file for cleaning the edges.

Step 1: Picking Your Jar

Jelly, spaghetti, salsa and so many other products come in glass jars. These are easiest to work with since most have completely smooth sides. I used a mason jar for this instructable since a quart jar for me is the same size as a quart jar for you. You can always use a different jar, however, it will take a little practice to find the right dimension for the template.

Step 2: Get Designing?

To replicate this lamp, simply print the included template and cut it out before putting it inside your quart mason jar. It should be 5" x 10.25".

For other jars, measure its dimensions for an approximation of template size. Cut out the shape and trim to fit the inside of your jar. When it fits well, this will be the size of your template. You will need image editing software to scale the included design to new dimensions, or get creative and make your own design! Avoid too much detail as the thickness of the simulated leading lines will determine the amount of detail possible.

Step 3: Laying the Lines

Simulated leading is a thick liquid that is squeezed out to imitate the leading of real stained glass. Pre-formed lines can be found but are considerably more expensive. The lines can be squeezed out directly onto the jar, buuuut, I prefer to put them on a leading sheet (plastic surface) first to dry since this step takes some practice. Gently, and with consistent pressure, squeeze the leading out in a line. The secret for me is to hold the tip about an inch above the surface so the leading falls onto the plastic, preventing my uncontrollable movements from affecting the quality of the lines. Let dry for a few hours or overnight. Try not to worry too much about ugly lines. The end product is sooo beautiful, most imperfections are unnoticeable.

I mentioned earlier about the importance of line thickness. Wrap a cone of tape around the tip of the leading bottle and cut where you want to determine your line thickness. I prefer lines about as thick as the wires on earbud headphones.

Step 4: Laying Lines on the Jar

With your lines dried and template well fitted, peel a line off and place it on the jar following the template. Cut to fit each line and place until finished so you can remove the template. The lines stick well to the glass if clean and free of skin oil. I found it too difficult for me to wear gloves, so I cleaned each general area with rubbing alcohol before placing lines. I chose rubbing alcohol since it evaporates quickly and leaves no residue.

Again, don't be concerned with preventing spaces between the leading lines as they are easily filled by applying liquid leading in the gaps. This was also how I added the head and body of the butterfly easily. Add a small bit to all line intersections as this will help prevent lines from getting out of place with later handling.

Looking back, I highly recommend selecting a jar with as few protruding elements (measuring lines and lettering) as possible. These elements prevent lines from properly sticking to the jar, greatly increasing the difficulty of this step.

Step 5: COLOR! What to and NOT to Do

Carefully squeeze out color to fill each section. Take care each section is not intentionally thin or excessively thick. DO NOT SHAKE the bottles. This will make bubbles. Bubbles are your enemy. Eliminate them before any drying occurs. Larger ones can be popped with a toothpick. Smaller bubbles can be dragged to the side of a section and pulled up onto a leading line. They can dry there or be wiped off. After completing a section, hold the jar up to a light to see any missed spots. Allow enough time for drying before turning the jar to color another section. Prematurely turning the jar will cause the color to sag. Hang the jar on a horizontally placed dowel or broomstick to prevent mistakes from handling the jar. Avoid more than briefly placing hands or fingers on dried colored areas as this will leave fingerprints that cannot be removed.

None of us are perfect. When that becomes clear, relax, have no tears! That wet section you accidentally put your finger in, or someone else could not resist touching, can be fixed. First, let it dry completely. With a utility knife, razor, or your dangerously sharp, Rambo survival knife, cut around the edge of the entire section containing the damage or imperfection. Cut as close to the black leading line as possible. You can now peel out that section and reapply color.

Step 6: Light It Up!

This challenge will depend on your choice of lighting and type of lid (metal or plastic). The three types pictured are Battery operated l.e.d. (20 count), Christmas lights (incandescent 20 count) and a C7 socket with switch and plug. The easiest is dropping the battery operated l.e.d.s in and putting on the lid. It makes for a pretty photo, but is not very bright. With the Christmas lights, you'll need to leave the lid off. Very pretty and much brighter than the l.e.d.s. For the C7 socket, putting a hole in the lid was a logical solution for me. It came with a small bracket that suspends the socket in a hole in the lid. I put an incandescent night light in for one of these photos. The brightest was a 300 lumen l.e.d. in the C7 socket. They are all beautiful. Display in a decorative planter or hang with macrame. For day time enjoyment, set your lamp in a sunny window for even more compliments!

Step 7: Optional Hole for Socket Light

I'm detailing this option with the C7 socket and metal lid since it is the most complicated. You will need safety glasses, pliers, rotary tool with metal cutting disk and a round file. Draw a circle in the center of the lid the diameter needed for the socket and mounting clip/bracket. Put on the safety glasses and hold the metal lid with a pair of pliers. Carefully cut out the circle with the rotary tool and then file the sharp edges down. If the hole in the lid is smaller than the light bulb being used, clip the socket in the hole, then screw the bulb in the socket. This lamp makes a super unique gift, since, at the time of publishing this instructable, I own the only one!

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