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Jack O'Lantern Luminary from a Plastic Soda Bottle

Updated on November 6, 2012
cute pumpkin luminaries made with 2 liter plastic bottles!
cute pumpkin luminaries made with 2 liter plastic bottles! | Source

My husband is a Diet Dr. Pepper addict so I never have to worry about a shortage of empty 2 liter plastic bottles. I have been trying to figure out something to use them for and finally came up with the idea for this cute pumpkin luminary. I love the look of the luminaries I've seen made with round hurricane vases and rice paper/vellum and that is in part what inspired me to do this project. Another reason I was inspired is because of the many amazing plastic bottle and other recycling crafts I've seen in hubs by fellow hubber, agusfanani.

So, I was looking at the 2 liter plastic bottle, thinking that I like the size of it and that it was round, if there was a way I could use the middle of it somehow for the luminary so I chopped off the top and bottom and knew immediately my idea could work. I'm really happy with how everything turned out. In fact, I love how the first one came out so much, I had to make a couple more and now I'm thinking about doing some ghosts! I think this would make an easy project for kids too :)

  • 2-Liter plastic soda bottle
  • Orange crepe paper
  • Mod Podge
  • Paint brush
  • X-Acto knife or box cutter
  • Scissors
  • Black paint marker or Sharpie
  • Candle-preferably flameless

Prepare the 2-Liter Bottle

Prepare the bottle for use by taking the label off and rinsing it out with water to get it clean inside. You may have some left over glue where the label was attached. You can get that off the bottle by using Goo Gone or W-D 40.

Take the empty 2-liter soda bottle and cut the top off about 3 inches down from the top of the lid, where the curve stops and then cut off the bottom about 2 1/4 inches up from the bottom. I found the best way to do this without damaging the bottle was to first take my X-Acto knife and make a cut in the plastic to get it started and then finish cutting around the bottle with a pair of scissors. Try to cut as even as possible all the way around. You may have to trim it a bit afterwards but as long as it look even, that's all that matters.

Discard the top and bottom of bottle, hopefully into a plastic recycle bin or you could save the top of the bottle and use it for a funnel!

cut off top and bottom of 2 liter bottle
cut off top and bottom of 2 liter bottle | Source

Take the orange crepe paper and cut strips about an inch over the length of the plastic cylinder. The length of my cylinder turned out to be 6.5 inches so I cut my strips about 7.5 inches. You don't have to measure it out, I just wanted to give you an estimate of the size of my pieces. You can just eye it if you want and it will be fine. Cut 10 strips of the crepe paper.

cut strips of crepe paper
cut strips of crepe paper | Source

In vertical sections, apply Mod Podge inside the cylinder and then put a strip of crepe paper over the Mod Podge and gently push down along the crepe paper to make sure it's adhering. Overlap each strip of crepe paper a little bit (1/4 to 1/2 in) to be sure you are covering all the area inside. Keep doing that until you have covered the inside of the cylinder with crepe paper. Be sure to get a good and even coat of Mod Podge, covering the whole area of where you will be laying the strip from top to bottom. It took me 10 strips to cover the inside. Also be very careful while you are doing this. The Mod Podge will cause the crepe paper to be very weak and will be prone to tearing- so just lightly push down the crepe paper onto the Mod Podge to adhere it. Once the inside is covered, sit it aside and let it dry for about 15 minutes.

***You are basically just gluing the crepe paper down- NOT sealing it. I wanted to seal mine and tried to put the Mod Podge over the crepe paper (on the first one I made) but it didn't work because the crepe paper is just so thin, I ended up tearing the crepe paper when I went back over the top of it***

Mod Podge applied in a vertical section-ready for crepe paper to be stuck on
Mod Podge applied in a vertical section-ready for crepe paper to be stuck on
keep adhering sections of crepe paper around the inside
keep adhering sections of crepe paper around the inside
inside all covered, ready to trim edges
inside all covered, ready to trim edges

Now go and trim off the excess crepe paper hanging from the bottom and top of the cylinder. I trimmed mine as even as possible with the plastic edge. You may find that the crepe paper is loose around the edge.. that's okay. Just apply Mod Podge to the plastic edge and make sure the crepe paper is completely adhered all around the top and bottom edges and let dry.

edges all trimmed
edges all trimmed

Now for the face! I used a free template that I found online. I printed it out, colored in the features with my black paint marker, cut them out and glued them onto the outside of the cylinder with Mod Podge but if you are confident enough, you could just freehand the features on with a black paint marker or Sharpie. You could also cut the features out of black construction paper and glue them on or cut them out of black vinyl with adhesive on the back.

Now put a candle inside and watch it glow! I used flameless tea lights from the Dollar Tree.. I got a pack of three for only a buck!

a couple of pumpkin templates printed from online and colored in with black paint marker
a couple of pumpkin templates printed from online and colored in with black paint marker

I like to share tips and ideas on craft tutorials that I share here because a lot of times I'll think of things while I'm making this stuff.. so it's not that I've necessarily done it, it's just an idea that I think may work. So my head was running the whole time I was doing these.. and here are a few things I thought of that might work:

  • You could use white crepe paper and make ghosts or green to make Frankensteins. etc.
  • If you don't have crepe paper for the inside of the cylinder, you could just as easily use tissue paper, translucent shopping bags, vellum, etc.
  • I also thought about using watercolors on thin white paper and using that for strips to glue inside the cylinder- I'm thinking that may work if you don't have crepe paper, tissue paper, etc.
  • I also thought about mixing Mod Podge and orange paint and brushing that on the inside (instead of the colored paper) to give it a sort of clear orange glass effect. I saw some jars painted like this one time to look like colored glass so I know it works.. just don't know what it will look like as a luminary.. but I'm thinking it would work!
  • You could try using smaller sized plastic soda bottles (like the plastic seltzer water bottles or flavored water bottles at Wal-Mart) instead of the 2 liter to make smaller sized luminaries.

For free templates to print for the facial features, do a search for "free pumpkin carving templates". Many will come up for you to choose from.

Spooky.... Spooky.... Spooky......

Glowing Pumpkin Luminaries
Glowing Pumpkin Luminaries | Source

Thank you :)

Thank you so much for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed the tutorial!

Happy Halloween!!!


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    • Deborah Minter profile image

      Deborah Minter 

      16 months ago from U.S, California

      Clever craft!

    • Jamie Brock profile imageAUTHOR

      Jamie Brock 

      6 years ago from Texas

      agusfanani- Thank you.. I was very happy with how they came out and enjoyed making them very much. I'm going to try to do some ghost ones next year. You are welcome for the mention.. your bottle crafts are very inspiring to me. Thank you for dropping by :)

    • agusfanani profile image


      6 years ago from Indonesia

      Thank you very much. I feel so glad and honored for having been mentioned in your hub.

    • agusfanani profile image


      6 years ago from Indonesia

      What a beautiful creation. You've made another prove that a used plastic bottle plus creative touches can make something useful and unusually attractive decoration for Halloween. Vote up this hub !

    • Jamie Brock profile imageAUTHOR

      Jamie Brock 

      6 years ago from Texas

      Sherry Hewins- I actually have seen something similar made with plastic milk jugs.. except they were ghosts with strings of lights in them.. they were super cute and I'm sure they would make great pumpkins too :) Thanks for stopping by!

    • Jamie Brock profile imageAUTHOR

      Jamie Brock 

      6 years ago from Texas

      randomcreative- You are welcome.... this is definitely my kind of craft! I think I'm going to try a ghost here soon.. Thanks for stopping by :0)

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 

      6 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Hmm. I bet I could make those out of plastic milk jugs. I have a steady supply of them, and they'd look more pumpkin-like.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Wow, the effect here is amazing and the craft project is so simple! Thanks for sharing this great idea for Halloween.

    • Jamie Brock profile imageAUTHOR

      Jamie Brock 

      6 years ago from Texas

      kashmir56- Thank you for the votes up and for sharing! Also thanks for the feedback on the layout.. I often wonder if HP frowns upon doing your own graphics like that, I mean instead of using the photo capsules for actual photos. Glad you enjoyed the hub :)

    • Jamie Brock profile imageAUTHOR

      Jamie Brock 

      6 years ago from Texas

      Akarime31- I'm so happy you dropping by.. have fun doing these with your nieces :)

    • Jamie Brock profile imageAUTHOR

      Jamie Brock 

      6 years ago from Texas

      Sunny- You are so welcome! I just kept seeing those empty plastic bottles thinking surely I could do something with them.. I am going to see what I can do with the Mod Podge and paint just to see if will work... I really think it will!! Great to see you.. hope all is well :)

    • Jamie Brock profile imageAUTHOR

      Jamie Brock 

      6 years ago from Texas

      Hi Bill :) Thank you.... glad you like them! They do make nice little Halloween decorations.. I was thinking about sitting them in the windowsill on Halloween.. I would sit them outside the front door but I live in apartments so not sure if people will mess with them or what. Thanks so much for dropping by!!

    • Jamie Brock profile imageAUTHOR

      Jamie Brock 

      6 years ago from Texas

      jenniferblair- You are welcome...glad you like them! I'm thinking about doing some ghosts faces next..You should consider using a few of your empty bottles to make a few.. they really are super easy! Thank you so much for stopping by :)

    • Jamie Brock profile imageAUTHOR

      Jamie Brock 

      6 years ago from Texas

      Irc7815- Aww.. thanks! You are right.... these would look neat lining the streets of a neighborhood.. sort of like the paper sack ones. Instead of cutting off the bottom, it could be left intact with some sand in it or something like that.. That's a great idea! Thank you for dropping by and for the vote up!

    • Jamie Brock profile imageAUTHOR

      Jamie Brock 

      6 years ago from Texas

      carol- Hi.. thank you for your sweet comment :) I'm glad you like the luminary! I love the word darling! What I really love about this one is that it's so darned cheap and easy to do... and the recycling feels good too. Thank you so much for the vote up and for sharing.. I so appreciate it!!

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Jamie great hub and enjoyed reading this and liked the way you laid out this hub has well. And the steps were so easy to follow . Great tips and ideas has well .

      Vote up and more !!! SHARING !

    • Akarime31 profile image


      6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I love art projects! I'm going to try this out with my nieces.

    • sunbun143 profile image


      6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      I love it! A simple and cute upcycled decoration. Cheers to free/low-cost crafts! To add to your paint and mod podge idea...I think I saw something like that too except they just added drops of food coloring to the mod podge. Since mod podge dries clear, all that was left was a transparent colored glass jar. That would probably work on a plastic bottle too. Super cool...Thanks for another great tutorial!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very cool idea Jamie! In fact, I love it! We have some bottles around; this might be an idea I actually try myself. :)

    • jenniferblair profile image


      6 years ago from Long Island, NY

      These are beyond adorable! I love lighted decorations, especially for Halloween, and these would look great on your front porch or landing. And like your hubby, I have an addiction to Diet Coke so there are plenty of plastic bottles on hand to use. :P Thanks so much for sharing!

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 

      6 years ago from Central Virginia

      What a cute idea. This would be so fun for an entire neighborhood to do and line the streets with light for the kids trick-or-treating. Voted up!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      You are so creative...I can see your mind spinning around with everything you look at. These are absolutely darling..I hope that word is okay..It just came to me. And don't you feel good recycling? Voting UP and sharing.


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