Recycled Glass Jars Transformed by Paper Clay

This is the beginning stage.  The lid has been covered in paper clay and a bas relief design of calla lilies has been started.   I may leave this white and just polyurethane to give it some polish.
This is the beginning stage. The lid has been covered in paper clay and a bas relief design of calla lilies has been started. I may leave this white and just polyurethane to give it some polish. | Source
The completed jar, I think it looks good either way:) This jar can be found on: https://www.etsy.com/listing/83448754/small-decorative-jar-call-lily-design
The completed jar, I think it looks good either way:) This jar can be found on: https://www.etsy.com/listing/83448754/small-decorative-jar-call-lily-design | Source

Untapped Treasures at the Grocery Store

Would you like to make something useful for your home and help the environment while you're at it? I will show you how. All you need is your washed out food jars, some paper clay/DAS clay, paints, imagination and sanding tools.

Collect your jars, but just don't collect any jars. Pay attention to the shape. Take notice of the jam and fruit jars at your local grocery store; there are some great silhouettes. So, have some wonderful tea and scones and when you're all done with your fruits and jams, wash those jars out and keep them instead of recycling them. Now the transformation begins!

Supplies Needed

Here is what you will need in a nutshell:

  • Creative Paper Clay or DAS clay. These are lightweight modeling clays which air dry in 24 hours or less.
  • Sanding tools (fine grade sandpaper (220), medium grade (120), dremel tool (for detail work if you have one) but this is not absolutely necessary. Try medium grade sandpaper first; if this seems too rough for your project go for the fine grade.
  • Acrylic Inks or just plain acrylic paints. I prefer the inks because they are easy to work with (have a thin consistency) and have an intense color. You can get a lot of subtle shades and tones with these by mixing white for lighter tones or black for darker shades.
  • Water based polyurethane. All products that are listed above are non toxic, but please do wear a dust mask when sanding the paper clay! Tiny particles will get into your air passageways and irritate them.
  • Paint brushes to apply the inks and paints or sponges (what you need depends on what you're doing).
  • Paper towels for clean up.
  • Wax paper to protect your work space when rolling out the paper clay/DAS clay.
  • Rolling pin or any heavy tubular object (an empty spaghetti sauce jar would work) to roll out paper clay.
  • Blunt edge knife (an old butter knife would work fine) or palette knife for cutting out shapes or making details or lifting rolled out clay from wax paper.
  • Your imagination and vision!

Step by Step How To

  1. Roll out paper clay or DAS clay onto wax paper to about 1/16th inch thickness. Place the amount you need on your lid and cover top and sides of lid.
  2. Roll the lid with the paper clay on it to press and adhere to sides of lid. Be careful to not get any under the lid rim. No worries if you do, just sand the clay off once it dries.
  3. Lay the lid flat and go over the top part with a rolling pin or heavy jar to adhere the clay to the top of the lid.
  4. At this point, if you need to roll more clay out on the wax paper, please do so now, because you will be putting together the components of your composition. If you are creating a flower; it is easier to make the petals individually than to try to sculpt the shape out of one piece of clay. You could do a simple tea rose design by cutting out petal shapes from the clay and placing them on the lid one by one. "Glue" them together with a little bit of pinching and smoothing with some water. Layer them so that the rosebud is slightly elongated. Bend each petal partway around a round tubular shape to "open up" the rose petals. Before you bend the rose petals back, make sure the whole flower is pressed onto the top of the lid.
  5. Blend with wet fingertips until it melds into one sculptural piece. Do not make petals paper thin, paper clay can be delicate.
  6. Another way to create a sculptural design would be carve away rather than build up the sculpture as in the previous instructions.
  7. Cover the lid and sides of lid with the paper clay, BUT, make the lid have a mound of clay in the middle which you can carve away. The mound should be about two inches thick and as wide as your design is going to be Try the rose again, but this time "draw the petals by carving into the clay with your knife.
  8. When you're satisfied with a rough cut of your design, let this dry overnight. The next morning the clay will have shrunk and tightened around the jar lid.
  9. Refine all planes of your sculpture with very fine sandpaper or a hand held dremel tool. If you have questions or difficulties with this feel free to email me.
  10. Paint as desired; let dry overnight and then let dry with 2-3 coats of waterbased polyurethane (letting completely dry between coats).
  11. Enjoy your "new" creations!

This is the 2nd stage of the design process, painting and refining.  I may add a couple of more petals on before finalizing the design.  You can apply the paper clay over this painted surface without a problem.
This is the 2nd stage of the design process, painting and refining. I may add a couple of more petals on before finalizing the design. You can apply the paper clay over this painted surface without a problem. | Source

Helpful Tips

  • Re-wrap your Das/Paper Clay in plastic cling wrap to keep from drying out.
  • Try the matte or gloss polyurethane for different effects.
  • Sand in between coats with super fine steel wool which can be found at any hardware store.
  • If you are not comfortable with sculpting, as an alternate, carve into or rubber stamp in the wet clay to make an impression, let thoroughtly dry and simply coat with 2 to 3 coats of polyurethane.
  • You may also use a product called porcelain clay, but this is much harder to work with and more delicate. It can be painted with the same products or can be left as is. When it dries, there is a slight translucency to the work. To make this clay more pliable, you have hold the clay over a steaming kettle of boiled water until it softens.

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Comments 4 comments

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thoughtfulgirl2 4 years ago from East Coast Author

Hi krisnicole1987,

Thanks so much for looking in on the hub. I enjoyed making these, they are a little time consuming though, but stay with it, it is worth the effort.:)


krisnicole1987 profile image

krisnicole1987 4 years ago from Pearl River, LA

Beautiful and interesting as well, I must try this!


thoughtfulgirl2 profile image

thoughtfulgirl2 5 years ago from East Coast Author

Thanks ThelmaC for checking this hub out. It just goes to show you can make art out of just about anything:)


ThelmaC profile image

ThelmaC 5 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

I love this hub. I voted it "useful". Thanks for sharing!

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