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I know how popular these are, and I LOVE the effect they give to just about any swampy or witchy scene. So I decided to make my own! I'll post some step-by-steps with pictures here in the coming days.



I've seen lots of versions of these over the years, and I've watched a couple tutorials, primarily to figure out what kind of lighting people used. For my lanterns, I used 12v LED flicker bulbs with a G4 pin base. These little bulbs are dwindling in selection, unfortunately. I was lucky and bought several on Amazon for about $8 a pair, but found a set of 5 for $10 on eBay. Unfortunately, they took 6 weeks to arrive from China....so buy only if you have the patience.

You'll also need a jar (picked mine up at Michaels years ago), some kind of styrofoam, acrylic paints, reindeer moss (Spanish moss works fine), greenery and twigs, twine, cheesecloth, white glue (the thicker in consistency the better), the G4 pin base (separate from the bulb), electrical tape and a glue gun!



Step-by-Steps to come!

*The links posted above are for the exact items I bought (except for the moss - I have a bulk box from a previous project, but it's the same brand) and from where they were purchased. If you have a place you prefer to shop or already have some of this stuff, please don't feel like you must buy the options I've laid out.*
 

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aaaaaand...



go on...
Ask and ye shall receive... I've also updated the first post with links to everything purchased (minus the jar). Here's how to rig the flicker LED into the foam:

Take your styrofoam (I used the memorial vase insert and cut off a 2" portion) and bore a hole about the diameter of a pencil through the center - better yet, just use a pencil! You're going to take the G4 pin base and feed the two lead wires through the hole, hot gluing them in place. How much wire you leave on each side of the hole determines how low your flicker bulb sits in the lantern.





Let the glue set before moving on. You want to make sure the G4 base doesn't slip out on you and leave too little lead wire to connect to later on.

Now you can test your flicker bulb! 2 of the 3 lanterns pictured in the OP run on 9V battery, and the 3rd one uses a 6V power supply (as will the one being made here). The bulbs are spec'd at 12v, but I read that 12v was burning them out within minutes. So I'm playing it safe - they've run for a few hours now with no problems!



Take some electrical tape and affix the bulb to its base. The fit isn't super snug, so this is just to keep them from separating later on.

The mouth of my jar was only slightly too wide for the 3" foam insert, so I bulked it up with some twine for a snug fit. You don't want it to be too thick, otherwise it'll get stuck, but not thick enough and the whole thing will fall into the jar and you'll be sad.



Time for greens! There's no book on this part, so just add to your liking. I picked things from the fern family to help fill out the jar and mask the bulb within. Once you've got everything glued in place, go back and add some moss to cover the rest of the green foam and further hide the bulb.





That's it for this part! I'll be painting the inside of the jar later this afternoon, so I'll document that process and share here.





Thanks for tuning in!
 

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Ok, so I guess this next step SHOULD have been first, that way the paint can dry while you're assembling the flicker bulb portion, but alas....

PAINT! This is probably the easiest and most fun part of the whole thing, and it really drives this swampy look home. Supplies needed (not pictured are cups for mixing and water):



Colors can be whatever you want, really. Each of my jars has a different combination so no two are alike. This one uses mostly green and dark brown, with some black and yellow tossed in for varying saturations. What I think is the most unique part of this is the addition of the white glue. The thicker it is, the better, as it acts like a clumping agent for the paint so it really sticks to the sides of the jar while you're painting.



Again, no real ratio in mind when mixing. Allen Hopps inspired my "mixology" when he did his witch jars video - he didn't have much of a guide either, rather he was simply experimenting on the fly. A generous pouring of green, a squirt of black, a dollop of brown and about a spoonful of glue. I also watered down each paint mix so it would slide down without stopping midway.

Brush-work is a bit of an abstract art, too. I started by lowering the loaded paintbrush into the jar and just banging it around the mouth and neck, flinging bits of paint around. It gives a really nice splatter effect!





Then I would take another brush and color, water it down a tad, and brush it just above the neck of the jar, so it would flow down and pool at the bottom.





Alternate between methods until you've got the coverage and splatter pattern you like. At the end, I took the olive green paint and poured a bit into the bottom of the jar, creating a little pool of goop. Don't pour too much! It could affect a later step negatively.





At this point, I took some of my moss and sprinkled it inside. This will soak up some of that paint that pooled at the bottom and sorta solidify it at the bottom. You can take one of your brushes and push it down if needed.



Once the moss had some time to soak up the goopy mess at the bottom, I tossed more mossy bits in and shook the jar so that it would stick to the globs and streaks of paint on the walls. If you went hog wild on pouring in paint at the bottom of the jar, it will flow up the walls when shaking and potentially ruin your delicate drip-work....or maybe it won't! These don't have to be perfect, after all!





The next post will have the steps regarding the install of the flicker bulb assembly into the jar and finishing off the outside collar! Stay tuned!

 

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If you have a place you prefer to shop or already have some of this stuff, please don't feel like you must buy the options I've laid out.*
THIS! You have no idea how many times I've been asked for the exact brand, size, color, place of purchase, genetic history, and ancestral homeland of ordinary things like pool noodles. I try to note if it's something special, or hard to find, but most things are just whatevers I get from wherever lol.
 

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THIS! You have no idea how many times I've been asked for the exact brand, size, color, place of purchase, genetic history, and ancestral homeland of ordinary things like pool noodles. I try to note if it's something special, or hard to find, but most things are just whatevers I get from wherever lol.
Whatevs from wherever is my preferred method of crafting, by far! ;)


This next part is really easy! You're going to need hot glue, twine, cheesecloth, moss, and whatever leftover paint you have from making a mess inside the lantern.

First, take a length of twine and create a handle of some sort. My vases came with these metal collars attached (which already had rope on them, but I'd since removed it). I ran the twine through the old mounting holes a few times until I had a good grip for the lantern.


Then, run a small line of glue along the bottom of the neck of your vase. Lay the twine along it, and start wrapping!




Once you feel you've gotten enough coverage for the neck, clip the excess twine off and plug it! The lantern, that is...




Does it still work?


Yep :) Now cover that styrofoam plug with some moss! I chose to use a brighter yellow to make it even more unique from the previous lanterns.


It's time for cheesecloth! Sadly, I didn't document this step with photos since I was using material from a previous week, but the process is really simple: just dye your white cheesecloth in your cups of mixed paint. You can let it sit and really soak in some color, or you can just quickly dip it in and wring out whatever color sticks. Experiment! There's no right or wrong way to any of this part. I let my colored cheesecloth dry out on a paper plate overnight and the next day while I was at work, and it was rather crispy once I picked it up. Didn't bother me, though - that sorta worked to an advantage.

Cut a piece about 12" long, cut some holes into it, distress it, really mess it up. The grungier the better.




You can hot glue it into place or use more twine - either works fine.


I decided the yellow moss was really too bright for what was supposed to be a dirty swamp lantern, so I took some black paint to it and added a more natural-looking moss as well.


Added a bit more cheesecloth:


Does it still work?


Yep :)

And that's it! I have about 4 more to make...I think I'm going to need a dedicated craft room for all of this :p Thanks for following along, and I hope I've inspired some of you to do something new and scary!
 

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Forgive me if this is a silly question, but what is the extension you electrical-taped onto the g4 pin base? Are you just using something you have in-house to test it, or is this a typical extension and the battery connects to the other end?

First time working with this type of thing, so I'm sorry if this is totally obvious.
 

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Forgive me if this is a silly question, but what is the extension you electrical-taped onto the g4 pin base? Are you just using something you have in-house to test it, or is this a typical extension and the battery connects to the other end?

First time working with this type of thing, so I'm sorry if this is totally obvious.
No such thing as a silly question! Ok, that's a lie....but yours is definitely valid.

There are 3 main components to the electrical part of these lanterns --

The bulb:


The base it plugs into:


And the 12v female plug:


OPTIONAL battery pack that wires up with the base instead of the 12v plug:


The one that I made in this particular tutorial will be hard-wired into a 12v lighting system, so I did not include the battery pack. I am however making these to sell very soon in a couple different sizes, and they will have battery packs included :)
 

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There are some tutorials I come back to again and again, and this one is one of them. Thanks for the detail, and thanks for posting. We'll be creating a witches shack this year, and using what you've shown, I think we can successfully pull off making a lighted staff for one of the witches. I know for a time the smaller G4 Flicker bulbs were off the market where I shop, and it's nice to see them back. I suspect whatever was causing them to fail has been fixed, but I still intend to have any of our G4 bulbs hooked up to no more than 9 volt to buffer a bit.

At any rate, you've made a great tutorial. Thanks again.
 

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great lanterns Jaurhead. nice detailed how to :)
I'm glad you enjoyed it! I hope people feel inspired and willing to share their creations here if they followed along :D
There are some tutorials I come back to again and again, and this one is one of them. Thanks for the detail, and thanks for posting. We'll be creating a witches shack this year, and using what you've shown, I think we can successfully pull off making a lighted staff for one of the witches. I know for a time the smaller G4 Flicker bulbs were off the market where I shop, and it's nice to see them back. I suspect whatever was causing them to fail has been fixed, but I still intend to have any of our G4 bulbs hooked up to no more than 9 volt to buffer a bit.

At any rate, you've made a great tutorial. Thanks again.
Oh wow, you've been wonderfully supportive of me recently. Thank you so so much! I actually started to sell these lanterns over on Facebook, but I will let you in on a little secret! The G4 flicker bulbs need a larger jar, vase or lantern to work effectively, but if you're doing a staff or walking stick, you might need something smaller. I've been making pint-sized lanterns with pint-sized mason jars, and I use a combination of orange and yellow flicker LED's wired up to two 3v button cell batteries to achieve a similar effect.


The LED's are blanketed in hot glue so they're masked a little bit in the jar.




Pint-size on left, gallon-size on right, minus some final touches.
 

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I will let you in on a little secret! The G4 flicker bulbs need a larger jar, vase or lantern to work effectively, but if you're doing a staff or walking stick, you might need something smaller. I've been making pint-sized lanterns with pint-sized mason jars, and I use a combination of orange and yellow flicker LED's wired up to two 3v button cell batteries to achieve a similar effect.

The LED's are blanketed in hot glue so they're masked a little bit in the jar.
Thanks for the heads up. I have a history of making props using other people's suggestions not clearly understanding why mine go wrong when I try to do something that burns out a motor or overheats a light. :) We have enough prewired flickering LEDs that I think I will be able to create something with a bit of help to do the wiring properly. I'm really good at designing things in my mind. For properly bringing them into the real world I usually need help with all things electrical. hahaha.

Thanks, again.
 
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