While I hope you all enjoy my posts about fashion and life, I realize that it can be a bit biased toward the ladies. To help balance out this bias, I invited my wonderful fiancé to contribute his own tips and information about living the stylish life…as a gentleman! He’ll be posting from time to time on various topics, but today he is talking about a topic you might not expect…crafting! In his own way, that is. I promise you, he did this all on his own. I had absolutely nothing to do with it! Hope you enjoy! -Alea
Here at Ball State, we hear all the time about our heritage. “The school opened, but closed a couple years later. Then it opened again, and closed again. This happened a few more times until the Ball Brothers moved to Muncie from upstate New York and bought the school. Then they donated it to the state.” While I’ve heard the story many times, and heard about the fact that they also funded most of the building projects around WWII, I never gave the stories much thought. In fact, I never really made the full connection that the sale of Ball Jars had basically funded the school that is providing my education.
Then one day it dawned on me that in a way, I sort of owe my degree to this fine American company (with its products still made in the USA). In fact, the Ball family has remained so committed to the progress and development at the University, that we still receive donations from the family and have consistently had a member of the Ball family on our board of directors since the early 1900’s. This sparked a bit of interest in Ball Jars for me personally.
For those of you two don’t know me, I share a decent amount with my fiancée including a desire for style, class, and design. I believe that to dress fashionably, emanate class, and design a comfortable living space, you don’t need a lot of money, you just need will-power and a lot of creativity. This is partly why I become interested in ways to live well on a small budget…and glass is often a part of that.
You see, I’ve always had a fascination with glass. It’s clean, it’s classy, it’s durable (as long as you don’t drop it), and it doesn’t taint the flavor of your food. It’s good for storing, good for decoration, good for cooking, and so much more. Yet while I’ve always loved glass, I’ve never really considered all the ways I could use Ball Jars. One night, however, my newly sparked interest in the jars led me to do a bit of research. One website that popped up proclaimed, “101 Uses for Mason Jars!” As I scrolled down the page, it’s as if my eyes were opened to the possibilities that lay before me.
The next day, my roommate and I made a trip to the local Meijer, and I picked up a six-pack of blue colored Ball Jars. Now the blue color isn’t something that will be around for long (it’s an anniversary product), and I recommend picking up a set while they’re still available, because the color is just awesome! Anyway, when we made it home, we almost instantly started working on various ideas we had envisioned. While there are TONS of more great ideas, these were some of my favorites that were actually feasible for a college student with limited funds and limited time._____________________________________________________________________________ If you want the easiest way to use a Ball Jar, simply take off the lid, clean it out, and boom…instant drinking glass! The best part about using Ball Jars for drinks is that you can see exactly how much you’re consuming. Whether you’re counting calories and need to see exactly how much Dr. Pepper to pour, or mixing drinks and trying to follow a recipe, the markings on the side are perfect and you won’t need to dirty up a measuring cup!
Of course, next to staying hydrated, the most important thing in life is to keep the fiancée happy. One way to effectively do this is to provide flowers of any variety…particularly her favorite. I have to say, the look of a blue Ball Jar vase makes the flowers look even better! All you need is a jar and a flower frog. Purchase Flower FrogLooking for a cool way to burn a votive candle? Fill the bottom with whatever you want (I used spare burlap) and light it up! Need a yarn dispenser? I threw a spool of rope into a widemouth Ball Jar, drilled a hole in the lid, and boom! Blenders are great for a lot of things: smoothies, mixed drinks, yogurt blends, and so much more. But what if you don’t want to dirty up that big glass/plastic jar? Or what if yours broke? Use a Ball Jar! Believe it or not, most blender connectors will fit regular mouth Ball Jars. Not only does this give you a personal sized glass to drink/eat out of, but you don’t have to clean an additional item! I’ve used my blender so much more now that it isn’t nearly as much of a hassle. You can even get creative and do your own thing! I found a lantern hanger, wedged burlap between it and the Ball Jar, placed a candle holder inside, and now we have a cool lantern for a desk! A word of warning, if you buy a hanging piece, buy it with something other than a rope handle. Rope and fire don’t exactly work well. One technique I used to produce some cool looking jars was to pour acrylic paint into the jars, roll it around, and let it drain out onto newspaper. It creates a great glossy look and makes for great decoration. Here I’m using some on my desk to hold Sharpies, pens, and more! Using that same acrylic paint, I made a larger jar and added on a coin cap. It’s the perfect stylish coin jar for my desk next to my bed. There’s something about glass that just looks nice even without decoration (especially the blue jars). I used this one as a planter and it works perfectly. I can even see the roots through the side. One of my favorites is a classy matchbox. Place sandpaper over the interior lid, use a hole punch to make a dispenser, and with “strike anywhere” matches, you have a classy way to keep your matches in plain view. Remember that acrylic paint? Guess what happens when the paint is glow-in-the-dark! Using the same techniques to coat the inside, you can make two glow-in-the-dark lanterns. The best part is that you can still use them for storage. I’ve added lids I found at Meijer to add some flair. Another simple way to use the jars is for dry product storage. Here I’ve filled it with bandages and used a white plastic lid (which doesn’t seal, but is much easier to use). Using another fancy lid from Meijer, I slid the jar into a sack I also found at Meijer, creating an instant gift jar. If you’re lucky enough to find a place that sells them, these wooden lids are the perfect way to create stylish storage. They’re made in Indiana and look great on top of a larger Ball Jar. They come in both regular and widemouth. You may not need a lid while using the jars inside, but if you have small children or just want to use it as a travel glass, you can get this silicone lid to complete the package! Buy Lid Here. It’s easy to separate small goods for storage when using Ball Jars. I recommend plastic lids for this job. These little numbers can be found many places, including Amazon (though they can be found cheaper at Meijer). They have regular sized lids, but come with these dispensers for spices. The great thing is you can swap out lids and even add these lids to larger jars. It’s a great way to store powders, spices, etc. Buy Jars Here. Following the food storage theme, you can use Ball Jars for numerous food storage tasks including storing fruits. This will keep them fresh and lock in the flavor! You can find lots of great options for food storage and food transportation. With the BNTO by Cuppow, you can add a second storage compartment to your widemouth Ball Jar. It’s a great way to turn your Ball Jar into a tiny lunch box. Buy BNTO Here. As I’ve said, you can use Ball Jars for various storage options. I’ve used one to store tobacco products including pipe tobacco and small cigars. Works well to lock in moisture. My absolutely favorite Ball Jar craft is the Ball Jar soap dispenser. We’ve made some of our own, but we also purchased two pre-made dispensers from Amazon here. The best part though, was when we added rocks and fake plants that were originally designed for a fish tank. This really boosted the look. Personally, I can’t think of a better way to display soap! Sometimes there’s nothing like the original. While Ball Jars are still great, I picked up a vintage Ball Jar for display. I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing my latest projects, and hopefully it has inspired you to do some crafting of your own!