Make a Luminary from Upcycled Pickle Jars

Create beautiful decor for pennies!

Most days if you open my fridge, you’re sure to find a jar of pickles. I’m a bit of a fan. So, often, I find there are leftover pickle jars. Most of them find their way to the recycle bin, but every now and then, I like to save them and repurpose them. You too can turn one into a beautiful luminary!

Something else in abundance in my home? Sea shells. My kids pick up loads every time we’re at the beach. So, 4 kids, 2 or more beach trips a year, times 100 or so shells per kid per trip adds up to about 3 billion sea shells! Maybe not quite that many, but sometimes it seems that way.

What’s a crafty mom to do?

I decided to grab the trusty glue gun and some spare shells and make a quick and easy sea shell luminary. It was so quick, easy and pretty that I made a couple more with different sized jars and had a collection. The kids even got involved and helped place shells. We actually put them on our table and dined by candlelight the other night. Candles just make dinner seem fancy, don’t they?

Want to make your own? Follow these simple steps.

Materials needed:

Step 1

Eat all the pickles in the jar. 🙂


Step 2

Remove your label using your favorite label removing technique. I used a combination of Goo Gone and alcohol. When that didn’t 100% do the trick, I used coconut oil. That worked.

Step 3

Choose a couple of shells or coral and decide where you want them. I had some hardened sea weed (at least that’s what I think it was) and a couple of pieces of coral. Using the glue gun, position your items near the base of your jar – careful not to put them too close to the base and cause it to not sit flat.

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Step 4

Fill your jar about 1/3 of the way with shells. Add your tea light and bury it down a little so the shells cover it slightly.

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Step 5

Light your candle and enjoy!

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Other options:

  • Choose one pretty shell and glue it in the center of the jar surface instead of multiple shells.
  • Fill the bottom of a jar with sand and just add a couple of little shells.
  • Use the battery powered tea lights (affiliate link) instead of real candles to make your luminaries safer.

This project took about 10 minutes and most of that time was used getting the label residue off. I love a quick craft! It’s also a great craft to do with the kids – just watch them with the glue gun! They’ll love displaying the shells they spent their time and energy collecting!

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