A few years back at a craft show I bought a beautiful christmas tea light candle holder. It is decorated with pine boughs and bright red cardinals and I have always loved the way it sparkles and shines. It was also expensive. I really wanted something like it for the summer months, so thought I'd take a crack at making something similar for the 4th of July. I had some red, white and blue napkins left from a party last year. Too many to throw out, not enough for another party this year, so I put them to use with some dollar store candle holders and a container of Mod Podge.
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Step 1: Prepare Your Container
I hit the dollar store and found these cute little glass jars for a dollar a piece. So far, since I already had the napkins and the Mod Podge, I'm only into this project for 3 bucks! Before beginning I washed them in warm,soapy water and made sure they were dry and fingerprint free.
Step 2: Get Ready
Put some newspaper down on the surface where you are working. Chances are some glue will drip at some point and while it's not that hard to clean up it's much easier if you protect your work surface. I also cut out all the shapes and designs from the napkins that I want to use before hand. The glue dries fairly quickly, so it's best to have everything ready to go before you start. You will also need Mod Podge or another glue designed specifically for decoupage. You can also make your own, there are several recipes on the internet. Finally, a disposable 1 inch paint brush is just the right size for a smaller project like this.
Step 3: Paint With the Glue
You could decoupage either inside or outside of the container, but I like to decorate the inside and let the colors and shapes reflect from behind the shiny surface of the glass. I started by painting a thin layer of the Mod Podge on the bottom and part way up the sides of the glass container. Make sure to completely cover the surface so the paper sticks evenly.
Step 4: Apply the Paper Design
Stick the cut out pieces of napkin or tissue paper, design side facing out, to the glue inside the container. You may have to slide the paper around to get it just where you want it. It should slide easily as long as the glue is wet. You also may need to do a little trimming if the pieces are a bit to large.
Step 5: Smooth and Coat
Using the paint brush smooth and coat the pieces of tissue completely with another layer of Mod Podge. Don't worry if there are some little wrinkles in the paper. It's also fine if some of the paper overlaps. These wrinkles and overlaps just add other colors, textures and surfaces for the light to reflect off when they are lit.
Step 6: Dry and Re Apply
Let the Mod Podge dry for several hours. I like to put a second coat of the Mod Podge on just to protect the tissue. I do plan on using these outside on the patio, but won't be leaving them out indefinately. An extra coating will protect them from some variations in humidty, but not from an all out downpour as we sometimes get at night here.
Step 7: Let Them Dry
Let them dry overnight. Once dry the glue magically dissapears! The colors will be bright and vibrant, yet translucent. Just a note about paper. You can use other types of paper for decoupage projects, but generally thinner is better. These napkins worked perfectly. They are opaque while being translucent enough to glow with the lights inside. In the past I have used tissue paper and very thin wrapping paper successfully.
Step 8: Choose Your Lighting
You can use either actual tea lights or the battery operated electric tea lights. I opted for the latter because I have 3 kids and 2 cats, so they just seem the safer bet. They turned out pretty cool and they look really festive on our patio table. I'll probably go through my drawer of odd left over napkins and see what other holidays I have. Something like this would look pretty cool for halloween!