Cynthia Billhartz Gregorian: Craft July Fourth decor with jars and picture frames

06/20/2014 7:00 AM

06/21/2014 6:30 PM

For the upcoming patriotic holiday, I decided to re-create a set of DIY Star-Spangled Mason Jars that I found on Pinterest. The post showed themholding flatware, flowers or candles. Mine are going into the trash.

Perhaps the creator innocently lacks precision when writing. Or maybe, like the proprietary cook who leaves ingredients out of her recipes, she intentionally leads readers astray.

I followed her directions to the letter and ended up with jars that looked like something toddlers coming out of a Teeny Tots Preschool would hand their mothers.

The problem involved taping off sections (to create the red stripes) of the jars after I had coated them with white acrylic craft paint. The Pinterest author specifically said to use washi tape; that it wouldn’t remove the white paint. So that’s what I did. Guess what? It peeled off large swaths of white paint.

I tried touching it up, but the more I tried, the worse things got. I don’t have the steadiest hands.

About three-quarters of the way through the project — which was now taking a lot more time than it deserved — I decided to focus my energy on something I knew would work: reverse glass painting.

I popped apart an oval picture frame that I bought for $3 at a Goodwill store. Using blue painter’s tape and the same red, white and blue craft paints, I painted a flag on the inside of the glass. Then I clipped the glass back into the frame. It turned out great. I can use it as a serving tray or display it on a plate rack.

My neighbor Brenna Hayes dropped by to see what I was doing. She saw my jars and chuckled.

“Do you have any more jars?” she asked. “Why don’t I try?”

I was skeptical. Brenna is an Apple Genius and baritone saxophone player. She is the only woman to play regularly in the People’s Liberation Big Band of Greater Kansas City, the popular jazz musicians collective. Why would she know anything about crafting?

“One time, I drank a half-bottle of tequila and woke up the next morning and had hand-knit a hat,” she said, trying to convince me.

Well … that sounded promising. I poured her a glass of wine and presented her with three jars.

She meticulously taped off stripes and stuck foam star stickers to the bare jars, then daubed a thin coat of paint onto the glass using a stippling brush. When she was finished, she peeled the tape and stars off. It appeared she was going for a more translucent look with clear stars and stripes. But then she squirted white acrylic craft paint in each jar and headed to my kitchen sink, where she added water and swirled the thinned paint inside the jars to create a frosted glass effect.

When the jars were dry, I sprayed them with an acrylic clear coat.

Brenna’s jars look like something from a boutique and took her only 25 minutes.

Following are instructions for those jars and my framed flag tray. (We’ll forget about the Pinterest jars.)

Happy Fourth of July!

Star-Spangled Mason Jars


Three wide-mouth Mason jars, lids removed

Blue painter’s tape

Acrylic craft paint in red, white and blue

A stippling paint brush

Self-adhesive foam stars

Clear acrylic spray-on sealer


Wrap painter’s tape all the way around one of the jars, midway down from the lip, then wrap another strip of tape around it midway between the first strip and the bottom of the jar.

Stick the foam stars between the lid and the top piece of tape. Brenna put them in a straight line.

Daub a coat of blue paint on the top part of the jar around the stars using the flat end of the stippling paint brush. Thoroughly wash the brush and squeeze dry.

Daub a coat of red paint between the two pieces of tape and below the bottom one. Set aside, upside down to dry.

Wrap three pieces of painter’s tape all the way around each of the other two jars starting with the bottom strips of tape. Align those bottom strips with the bottom piece of tape on the blue-star jar that you’ve just finished, and make sure all subsequent pieces of tape are evenly spaced.

Daub a coat of red paint between the strips of tape. Let dry.

Peel off tape and stars.

Squirt a silver-dollar-size puddle of white paint into the bottom of one of the jars. Add several drops of water to thin it. Screw a lid on, and shake and swirl the paint around the inside of the jar to coat the walls. Unscrew lid, pour thinned paint into next jar and repeat. Then do the third jar.

When dry, spray clear acrylic sealer onto the inside and outside of the jars. Let dry before using as a candle holder. (Not recommended for holding flatware or flowers as the frosted coating will come off.)

Framed Flag Tray


Picture frame with glass. (If you intend to use it as a tray, make sure it’s at least 11 inches by 14 inches and doesn’t have a kickstand on the back.)

Blue painter’s tape

Acrylic craft paint in red, white and blue

Foam paint brush

Self-adhesive foam stars


Take apart the frame and clean the glass.

Whitewash the frame by applying white craft paint to it, then wiping it off while it’s still wet.

Tape off a large square on the upper right side of the glass. (Remember: This is reverse painting, so it will be on the upper left when you’re finished and flip it over.)

Stick foam stars inside the taped square. I placed mine randomly.

Daub blue paint around the stars, using the foam brush and staying inside the square. Let dry.

Peel off tape and stars.

Wash foam brush and squeeze dry.

Create horizontal stripes around the blue star square using tape. I intentionally skewed mine.

Apply two coats of red paint between strips of tape. Let dry.

Peel off strips of tape.

Apply two coats of white craft paint over the entire flag design. Let dry.

Flip over to see your flag.

Put the glass back into the frame and reassemble it.

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