Make your own outdoor party lights

Creating outdoor lighting is as easy as it is beautiful. With nothing more than simple, everyday materials and a little imagination, you can create your own festive lights in about 15 minutes.

Make your own outdoor party lights

Tin can lights

What you need:

  • Clean tin cans
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Compass
  • Ruler
  • Measuring tape
  • Adhesive tape
  • Thick wooden dowel
  • Vise
  • Pliers
  • Hammer
  • 1 large nail
  • Drill
  • 20 and 22-gauge tie wire (try copper or brass for extra sparkle)
  • Work gloves
  • Paint and paintbrush
  • Candles

Directions:

  1. Make a pattern of holes on paper to wrap around your can. Cut a piece of paper to size and copy a design onto it freehand or using a stencil. Try making your own pattern.
  2. To copy circle designs from your patterns, use a compass and pencil to draw concentric circles and mark equidistant points around the outer circumference. Draw lines from the centre to these points to divide the circle into even sectors. A dot at each intersection indicates where to make a hole.
  3. For a diamond design, draw a small diamond shape made of two equilateral triangles, and enclose this in two proportionately larger triangles. Add dots to the outlines at evenly spaced intervals to indicate holes.
  4. Tape the paper pattern to the can. Place one end of the dowel lengthwise in the vise; slip can over the other end.
  5. At each dot on the pattern, make a divot in the can with a large nail (this will help guide the drill), and then enlarge with a .3 centimetre (.125 inch) bit. Make holes for the handles near the top of the can in the same way.
  6. Make a handle by bending a 50 centimetre (20-inch) length of wire at its midpoint, then bending small hooks at each end to attach to the can. Twist the other end into a small loop to create a hanger. Paint cans if desired (avoid water-based or latex paints). Insert a candle.

Glass jar lights

What you need:

  • Selection of glass jars
  • 20 and 22-gauge tie wire (try copper or brass for extra sparkle)
  • Vise
  • Pliers
  • Thick screwdriver
  • Work gloves
  • Measuring tape
  • Glass paints
  • Paintbrush
  • Candles
  • Sand

Directions:

  1. Measure the circumference of the jar neck, add 7.5 centimetres (three inches), and cut a piece of tie wire to this length. Bend the wire around the jar neck to form a loose circle, and use pliers to hook the two ends securely together. With a screwdriver, twist the wire to form two eye loops on opposite sides of the jar.
  2. For the hanger, cut another piece of wire, one metre (three feet) long. At its midpoint, use pliers to twist a loop for a hanger.
  3. Thread 2.5 centimetres (one inch) of each end of the hanger wire through the eye loops; tightly secure them by twisting the ends back on themselves.
  4. If desired, embellish the jar with glass paints, following the manufacturer's instructions. Make a bed of sand fove centimetres (two inches) deep in each jar, and insert a candle.

Where can I find wire?

The wire work in this project calls for thin "tie wire," generally found at most hardware and some craft stores. You'll also need work gloves and a pair of long-nose pliers; a bench vise helps hold the wire while you bend it.  Stay safe and take care not to hang these pretty lanterns in or near anything that may be combustible.

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