Introduction: The Stained Glass Mason Jar

About: I work at Middle Tennessee State University as a Professor of Physics and Astronomy and direct the Computational and Data Science Ph.D. Program. I've been a programming nerd, a woodworking geek, an astronomy d…

In this project, I wanted to explore how to decorate Mason jars. After looking at different types of inspirations, I decided to try emulating stained glass in this project. In a Pinterest project, I came across Mason jars that followed the designs of Mondrian glass. I wanted to generalize this idea toward other types of stained glass with the challenge of placing it on an irregular cylindrical surface.

Instead of using lead strips, I decided to use 1mm thick 3d printed frames. I printed the frame using PETG, so they are flexible enough to wrap around a Mason Jar. Glued them to the jar using cyanoacrylate glue, holding the framework in place with painters tape as the glue dries. I then used glass paint to fill in the "windows" that make up the glass panes.

The construction of this project is straightforward if you have a 3d printer and a bit of experience using Fusion 360.

I decided to create this project because it was outside my usual area of expertise. I generally like to create CNC projects and electronics. Doing something closer to art seemed like a fun diversion. It forced me to stretch my creative muscles and try something different. An Instructable's Speed Challenge seemed like the perfect venue to motivate me!


  • A Mason jar
  • Access to a 3d printer
  • Black PETG filament - or a similar substitute
  • A small amount of Cyanoacrylate glue
  • Some masking tape
  • Fine paint-brush
  • Glass paints - DecoArt brand or similar

Step 1: Creating the Frame

The basic idea of this project was to create a frame that outlines the colored segments on the glass. I have seen several projects that use a 3d printed framework to create flat pieces of stained glass. Some projects use lead strips to create a stained glass effect on jars. This project combines these two approaches.
The heart of the project was a 3d printed frame. Creating this frame was done using Fusion 360. I've included a sample STL file to print if you want to preview how this would work, but I would encourage you to try creating a 3d design yourself.

Before designing your own, you should consider a couple of constraints.

  • The circumference of the Mason jar I used was about 260mm. The maximum 3d print size I could make on my printer was approximately 250mm. You may need to printer several segments to completely cover the jar. In my design, I left the back region of the Mason jar uncovered.
  • The total height of the Mason Jar in my project was about 11cm. However, only the central 80 mm are flat. The top and bottom of the Mason taper inward. You could adjust the frame's design to fit this taper, but it is much simpler to print the frame for the flat region of the jar.

I put together a video showing the design process if you want to repeat it. The steps below outline the basic workflow.

  1. You begin by defining the size of the outer rectangle of the frame. Within this rectangle, you can add different geometric shapes. I mostly stuck with rectangles, but my final design also a circle to offset the traditional Mondrian look. You could also import a vector drawing directly into the software. More conventional stained glass designs would work well with this technique. Any SVG image would work.
  2. Once you have the lines created. Use the offset tool to create an offset line for all the elements in your design. I used a 1 mm offset for my framework, but the details are up to you.
  3. After the offsets are complete, use the extrusion tool to create a 1mm thick piece of all the elements of the rectangle.
  4. Going back to your sketch, select all the rectangles that will form holes in your piece. Using the extrusion tool, cut them out of the rectangle. It turns out it is a lot easier to cut holes in a larger rectangle rather than extruding the individual sections of the frame.
  5. When you are happy with the design, click on the 3d body and save it as an STL file.
  6. Open the STL file with your favorite slicer software. Position it on your virtual printer bed, and then slice the model. Send it to your 3d printer, and you will have a frame ready to use in about 30 minutes.

Step 2: Gluing the Frame to the Jar

Gluing the frame to the jar is easy. I held the structure in place using masking tape and then added drops of superglue to tack it down.

I started gluing near the vertical center of the frame and slowly worked my way around the jar. I used the cyanoacrylate accelerator to ensure the glue would dry quickly. After I glued the shape to the Mason jar, I added additional glue in the corners to seal the piece to glass more tightly.

If you do get a few drops of glue on the glass, it won't drastically affect the final result. As we will see in the next step, Mason Jars are textured, and painting glass will never result in a perfectly smooth surface.

Step 3: Painting the Jar

Painting the jar is relatively straight forward. Use a fine brush and glass paint. You will need to put on several layers of paint to cover the glass.
There will be brush strokes visible in your final design. Do several thin coats, and work your way up to the opacity you need. I found that two or three coats worked reasonably well. In a few of the glass sections, I tried to add even more coats of paint. However, too many coats of paint will turn the glass opaque. There is a balance between a perfectly smooth finishing that is opaque and a slightly textured finish transparent enough to pass the light.

The textures in the Mason jar are also challenging to paint on. Since the surface isn't smooth, the underlying texture changes how the paint adheres to the glass.

I took the pictures above in Salisbury Cathedral in England and St. Giles Cathedral in Scotland. You might find this shocking, but your first attempts at glass painting might not be quite as good as these examples. The people who created this work spend their lives learning to create perfect designs in glass using chemistry and glass ovens. If you are like me, you are doing this project in an afternoon using materials from the local hobby store.

If anyone asks, repeat these words, "I was going for a more textured look in the colors. It feels more organic to me." In art as in life, own your imperfections.

Step 4: Displaying Your Jar

To display the jar, I put several used several very low-power battery-powered candles. These were the cheapest ones I could find at the hobby store, but they worked well in the project. The color randomly changes when you turn on the lights. These different colors change the contrast you see in the underlying patterns.

If you make something similar, please post it below! You could use the underlying design of a 3d printed frame with glass paints on a much more sophisticated project. I am looking forward to seeing what you create!

My wife likes the result and helped me with the painting of the project. The final product is on our fireplace mantle.

Mason Jar Speed Challenge

Participated in the
Mason Jar Speed Challenge