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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Paper covered Jack-o-lantern Jar

 (Maggie Bullock)
(Maggie Bullock)

If glass etching isn’t your cup of tea, here’s another project that converts a standard canning jar into a jack-o-lantern.

For this project, I covered the jar in paper, using standard decoupage techniques. I used a paper sack that had been reused several times and was on its last legs. And instead of special decoupage glue, I added a bit of water to some standard white (dries clear) glue I already had on hand. (Why buy something new when what you've got works just as well, right?)

If you’ve never worked on decoupage before, this is a good project to start on; it’s impossible to mess up. The basic process is simple: cover a surface with small pieces of paper, using glue to adhere the paper to the surface and also to seal the paper.

You will need:

  • a clean, dry jar (I used a wide-mouth pint jar)
  • paper that’s heading into the recycle bin
  • white glue
  • a sponge brush or old paint brush
  1. If you’re not using decoupage glue, water down some white glue so it’s fairly runny, about 2 parts glue to one part water works pretty well, but there’s no need to measure carefully.
  2. Crumple the paper and smooth it our a few times to give it texture, then tear the it into pieces that range in size (most of mine were between ½” - 1 ½”). You want all edges torn to avoid straight lines on your jar. I tore some paper to begin, then tore more as needed.
  3. Starting on the side of the jar you want the face, brush glue over a manageable area of the jar. Add strips and pieces of paper to the glue area, leaving blank space where the eyes and mouth should be.
  4. After each piece is added, brush a layer of glue over the newly added paper. This will seal the layer, and allow you to add paper over it. When you’re happy with the face, continue adding torn paper to cover the rest of the jar. Your goal is to overlap layers of paper so there are no black spaces (except for the jack-o-lantern face, of course).
  5. When the jar is covered, add another careful layer of glue over the jar, turn it upside down, and allow it to dry. This will take several hours or over night.

I'm thinking of filling this jar with candy corn and taking it to my office. It's the right size and a little seasonal without screaming Halloween.

Finishing this jar, I think it actually wants to look like Frankenstein’s monster. The texture of the torn paper and the shape of the jar just look the part. If I had seen it before I began the project, I would have used green paper and round eyes. If you give it a try, let me know how it turns out!


Artist and crafter Maggie Wolcott writes about craft events in and around Spokane, as well as her own adventures in creating and repurposing. Her DwellWellNW posts include project and decorating ideas, recipes, reviews of events, and interviews with local artists. Maggie spends her days as an English professor, and when she’s not grading papers, she can generally be found with a paintbrush or scissors in hand. She can be reached at