Little Galaxy Luminaries




About: I'm an animation director by day and Queen of the monsters by night. I picked up most of my costume and prop building skills through hands on experimentation with materials. Experimentation led to addictio...

These simple mason jar luminaries take only 15-20 minutes to create and make delightful little mood lights or night lights for your resident star gazer (or Trekkie). Your cut out patterns can be as simple or complex as you make them. For the purposes of this Ible, we'll do a quick and easy look with lots of appeal.

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Step 1: You Will Need...

Mason Jar(s) --I used a cute little squat one. This project should work with any size jar.

Dark Colored Paper --Black, blue, and purple are all great choices, just make sure what you're using is opaque (no light shines through it).

Ruler and Measuring Tape

White Marking Pencil


Star Shaped Paper Punch

Metal Push Pin

Metal Compass

Invisible Tape

Electric Tea Light or Small LED Light

Step 2: Measure Your Jar

Measure the height of your jar. Take that number and add .25 inch, so that your paper height will extend up under the mason jar's lid.

Measure the circumference of your jar. Use the flexible measuring tape for this, wrapping around the jar until you have .25 in of overlap. The inside of your jar will actually be a little smaller than your end number, but it's better to have a little extra than not enough.

Step 3: Paper Strip

Measure out a long rectangle on your dark colored paper, using the ruler and white marking pencil. In my case, the rectangle was 2.25 inches x 10 inches.

Cut out rectangle with scissors.

Step 4: Star Punch

Use the Star shape paper punch to make stars all along the length of your strip.Vary the distance between them, as well as their distance from the edge of the paper. Many paper punches have handles or other metal parts that will only allow you to get so far into the paper before you are stopped. Be creative with how you vary your punches, so this limitation isn't obvious in the final design.

Step 5: Pin and Compass Holes

For your more distant "stars", you will punch holes in the paper with your metal push pin and metal compass tip. Think about pictures you've seen of the milky way. Think organically when placing your stars. Some will cluster together while others are very far apart.

The compass tip is great for this because it increases in diameter gradually. Use just the tip for a tiny star, or push all the way up for a wider circle.

You should end up with something like the last photo, more or less, depending on your design sense.

Step 6: Roll

Roll your paper rectangle, being careful not to make hard angled creases (more likely with thick paper). Hold it for a moment to ensure that it takes the curl.

Release the roll.

Use your fingers to position the rectangle end to end, with just a little overlap.

Secure with tape, on the inside of the roll.

Put the roll inside your jar. If the roll tries to collapse on itself and get tighter, you may have little excess paper. Trim off .25 inch on one end and re-tape. Repeat until the fit is comfortable, with no gap at the seam.

If you have thick paper, it may keep trying to pop upward. Use 2 pieces of tape to secure the top edge of the paper to the rim of the jar. This will be hidden under your jar lid.

Step 7: Light

Put your LED or electric tea light inside the jar. I used a green LED "finger light" from the dollar store.

DO NOT use a real flame of ANY kind inside these jars!

Step 8: DONE!

Screw your lid on and you're finished!

Your luminary is ready to bring soothing delight to your bedroom, fireside, balcony, name it! Experiment with other paper punch shapes to make themed luminaries of all kinds as gifts or party favors. More advanced paper artists might want to look up kirigami patterns to cut with a blade, for more intricate patterns of light.

Remember to open the jar and switch off your light source when you're done to save battery life.

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    16 Discussions


    3 years ago

    These are just awesome!! Omgosg lol. Thank you


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you! The competition in the mason jar contest is tough! I'm glad many people seemed to like this project.


    4 years ago

    Me too!! Lol. We've tried finding other stuff to put inside them to make them do different things but we've not had any luck yet lol. So if you figure out any other little ideas for them please share them lol!!


    4 years ago

    These are so simple to make yet kids love them. My 4 year old and I sat and made a couple small ones and one big one yesterday and sat the three of them together in his bedroom as a nightlight and he loves it! Thank you for sharing! Favorited and voted for!

    1 reply

    Solarize it! Rip apart an $1 Store Solar Light, use the guts to light up the inside and keep it charged up. It's a simple way to save money on constantly buying batteries!

    1 reply

    Solarize it! Rip apart an $1 Store Solar Light, use the guts to light up the inside and keep it charged up. It's a simple way to save money on constantly buying batteries!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice ! Good simple use of everyday materials to make something Cool; Great Job on the star mask !


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I love that I have everything on hand already for this! I'm going to make it before the weekend and take it along on our trip to the mountains. Favorited and voted!

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you! I am a horrible traveller/ camper, but in my mind I really do think these would be beautiful in a tent or cabin in the mountains. Have fun!

    Thanks! I think the great thing about them as a night light is that the jar makes it self contained; no outlet needed. They can truly go anywhere, and be reasonably water proof if you use them outdoors.