You just can’t beat the all-around usefulness and charm of the simple and humble Mason jar. Developed for home canning and pickling, they’re easy-to-find, affordable (expect to pay $2-3 for newer examples and $8-20 each for older pieces) and they have dozens of decorative and functional uses.
For the collector, an antique/ vintage glass guide may be in order, but for most of us, all we need is to hit a flea market, antique mall or yard sale to discover a delightful jumble of Mason jars.
They come in a surprising variety of sizes, shapes and hues. Finding examples with old zinc lids is great, but without works, too. Just look for good condition, no hazing, chips or cracks in the glass, and give them a good scrubbing when you get home.
Though one Mason jar looks fine alone, groups of three or more pack a visual punch. Try grouping them by identical type–or play with an eclectic mix united by the glass hue. Add freshly-cut garden posies to a collection of jars gathered in an old bottle carrier and you have an instant centerpiece.
Use Mason jars, especially lidded ones, for storage, anything from ordinary clothespins to collectible marbles will work. In the garden they’re ideal for moisture-resistant storage of birdseed, soluble fertilizers, or floral food packets.
Give them another task in the garden: plant container! Fill the jar with potting soil, insert a flowering annual and give it a drink of water to settle it in. Group several with this easy idea. Attach radiator hose clamps to a weathered board with screws. Wrap the clamps around potted Mason jars just under the rim or around he middle and tighten with bolts. Hang the board on a wall or fence.
This over-the-table light fixture uses wire, but not electrical. Wrap baling wire around Mason jars (we used clear, but turquoise would also be nice) to make a handle. Fill the jars with coarse glitter mixed with sand, and insert a votive candle.
Attach the wire to an overturned vintage plant basket. Hang the center of the basket from an eye hook in the ceiling. Be safe, however. Never leave unattended candles burning.
With sand as a base, a hanging jar with a votive can perform light-inspired wonders in a garden nook. See how we made this light fixture here.
Hang them from tree branches, shepherd’s hooks along paths, or from hooks screwed into an arbor’s beams.
Make a cutlery holder for an outdoor buffet event. Tuck a vintage linen napkin or cheery bandana into a Mason jar-turned-drinking-glass to hold a place setting for each guest. Group them on a tray for a burst of color.
Set Mason jars at each place setting for a sit-down affair. They’re especially effective for a farmhouse-style gathering.
A specialty lid turns a plain Mason jar into a unique cocktail shaker.
Arrange Mason jars in a group for a simple, aesthetic statement. Put them to work holding desktop accessories, artists’ brushes, or crafting tools. Tuck a photo inside a jar to add personality to the display.
Use a Mason jar light kit to create pendant lights for kitchen or bath. Or make your own: Use a cheap ($7!) Hemma cord set from IKEA and drill a hole in the center of the jar lid, large enogh to insert the light socket and chandelier bulb. Drill additional small holes in the lid around the socket to allow heat from the bulb to escape the jar when lit. Insert the socket into the lid and screw on the ring to secure the lid. Insert the bulb and screw the lid onto the jar. Hang the jar from a hook or hot-wire it to a ceiling fixture.
There are many different ways to up-cycle Mason jars. In addition to ideas you see here, consider adapting a jar as a liquid soap dispenser, a pantry canister, a holder for toiletries like cotton swabs, sewing notions (with a cute pincushion lid), collections, or a small terrarium.
One thing’s for sure, using them for canning is just the tip of the iceberg.
© Caruth Studio