Not Martha

shrinky sheets and various jars

We recently gave two homemade sun jars as gifts and I was lucky enough to have some inkjet printable Shrinky Sheets from the Readymade store to make the gift tag with. My lovely assistant, Scott grabbed some sunny clip art and created the tag. We made it big, printed it, and then I cut it out:

We baked according to directions while I really really wished I had a window in the door of my oven, watching shrinky plastic shrink is the coolest. The final product had curled itself (always a risk when shrinking larger shapes) but it emerged just fine:

I knew the color would intensify (there is a note about that in the instructions) but I didn’t expect it to darken to such lovely shades of orange. The text is still readable, and it makes a lovely substantial gift tag. I only wish I had thought to include the recipients names on the tag, your name in a shrinky plastic tag would be pretty cool.

While I’m speaking about sun jars I was lucky enough to encounter the real object — for those just tuning in the Sun Jar is a lovely rechargeable light in a jar made by Tobias Wong, mine is a DIY version made using these directions for the home-made sun jar at Instructables. Ok, I was lucky enough to encounter the real thing during a visit to stunningly be-decked home of Paola, who sells the Sun Jar at mirror mirror, her online boutique of wonderful things.

The real Sun Jar is very well made, the frosted finish feels etched, and there is a molded white plastic cup inside holding all the little bits that collect solar energy and power the LED light. This means you don’t get any shadows of wires or dark spots when the jar is on, which you do with the DIY version. And this is something I didn’t realize – the real Sun Jar is waterproof so you can leave it out on a porch or a deck all year long and it will be fine. I’m pretty sure my DIY version could stand up to some outdoor time but I wouldn’t risk it in day-long rain. After adding up the cost of the materials for the DIY version and comparing the quality of the light with the finished product I have to say the price tag on the real thing is worth it.

Another thing which I’ve been coming across is using strands of small LED lights to replicate fireflies in a jar. You can see one for sale on Etsy, and two (slightly technical) blinking versions at Instructables – first and second. Doing a little Googling turns up a little battery powered blinking light kit made especially for this. I’m definitely going to make myself a firefly jar, how sweet.

Molly at A Foothill Home Companion recently wrote to tell me about a similar project she made – glow in the dark stars suspended from the lid of a jar to create a gentle night light for the windowsill of a bedroom. It’s simple and lovely, thanks Molly!

· comments [19] · 08-7-2007 · categories:craft ·

19 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Patia // Aug 7, 2007 at 10:00 am

    Thanks for the links — I really like the last one with the glow in the dark stars.

    I bought this Sun and Moon jar on Etsy and absolutely love it. I think I’m going to give them as Christmas presents this year.

  • 2 ren // Aug 7, 2007 at 10:37 am

    i just had my first bake and shrink experience and it was AWESOME! now i am obsessed with shrinking things! didn’t think of gift tags though…hmmm…this is gonna be fun!

  • 3 molly // Aug 7, 2007 at 10:39 am

    Thanks Megan!

  • 4 Ailidh // Aug 7, 2007 at 11:09 am

    can you link to the clip-art, please – that’s an awesome sun, and i’m tempted to use it as a motif… somewhere. maybe shrinky business cards? d’you think that would work?

  • 5 DeerDominique // Aug 7, 2007 at 11:14 am

    My husband is obsessed with the idea of making sunlamps, thanks for the heads up on the shadow bit.
    If you want to see your shrinkys shrinking and have no oven window, use a heat gun, like this, it’s great fun!
    Plus, they are handy for other things, like lifting acrylic paint for scraping, with a mask of course.

  • 6 megan // Aug 7, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    Ailidh – I’m not certain where the clip art came from but I know Scott purchased it, it wasn’t a free piece of clip art.

  • 7 jen // Aug 7, 2007 at 12:29 pm

    I’d also like to know where the clip art came from… I’d buy it!

  • 8 Emily // Aug 7, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    I just stole your idea of giving the SunJar as a gift! I found it on which ships from the US. I should have it in a few days and I can’t wait! Oh and while I was there I also picked up the Delighfully Hip Envirosax which I have been coveting since I read about them here. You have the BEST info!!

  • 9 Felicia // Aug 8, 2007 at 6:07 am

    What a beautiful gift idea. I love that sun.

  • 10 Joni // Aug 8, 2007 at 7:50 am

    Has anyone else had problems with the glue coming undone in their jar? I gave one as a gift to my father and it didn’t work- he took it apart and the battery connection had become unglued so it wouldn’t charge. We thought it was a fluke, but mine was the same way.

  • 11 megan // Aug 8, 2007 at 7:58 am

    Joni – I have not encountered this problem. What type of solar light are you using? I’ve been using Malibu brand lights.

  • 12 bibliogrrl // Aug 8, 2007 at 11:11 am

    Megan – glass etching is EASY, fyi. I’ve never actually used a dip, but I imagine if you make enough of these, getting the supplies and learning to use the etching bath would not be very hard.

    I do etching on glass, and it is a lot more simple than it would seem. The etching cream isn’t overly expensive, and while it is an acid, so long as you’re careful and wash your hands, it doesn’t burn (I’ve had it on my hands and haven’t had a problem).

    These are ADORABLE. I should make some for my parents for their front porch next summer…

  • 13 bibliogrrl // Aug 8, 2007 at 11:12 am

    Oh, and DURR, I’m commenting on the frosted glass aspect of the original jar. I should have mentioned that. :D

  • 14 megan // Aug 8, 2007 at 11:41 am

    bibliogrrl – Not at all, over on the DIY sun jar project page it was suggested to etch the entire jar instead of using a glass frosting spray paint. I am not planning on making any new sun jars, but if I have a reason I might try the etching cream.

  • 15 Crystal // Aug 8, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    I want to make a firefly lamp too, but the site you listed sends you to another site that sells the kit for high prices (because they’re meant for outdoors) and the instructables seems much too technical for me. what do you suggest?

    -Crystal Chang

  • 16 Nana // Aug 10, 2007 at 6:37 am

    oh, that was a great idea – the tags made of shrinky dinks. i wish we had them in Brasil.

  • 17 Nana // Aug 10, 2007 at 6:38 am

    i wish we had them shrinky dinks, i meant.

  • 18 megan // Aug 10, 2007 at 8:09 am

    Ok, for those who asked, Scott bought the clip art we used from iStockphoto, it cost one credit (I have no idea how much actual money that is but he didn’t think it was was a big deal to use for the tags).

  • 19 Miranda // Aug 20, 2007 at 1:25 am

    If you have a craft or stamping store in your area, don’t buy craft supplies from the ReadyMade store. They seriously overprice stuff like shrink plastic, clock kits, and iron-on lettering. I don’t know if it’s because they aren’t getting it any cheaper than what the craft stores are selling it for, or what. It’s only the stuff that they’re not a unique source for that I wouldn’t buy from them, if that makes sense.

    (The tags here do look nice, though!)

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