Light up indoor gatherings or picnics on the beach with these pretty jar lanterns decorated with driftwood, sea glass and shells. Words and photographs: Shore Cottage Studio

We love these coastal lanterns, which work equally well either decorating a mantelpiece in a seasonal display, or when used to light a wintry seaside picnic out of doors. The best sort of winter picnic involves two blankets, one to sit on and one to snuggle in, and a flask of hot chocolate with marshmallows for the kids or a nip of brandy for the grown-ups. Food must be highly calorific to counteract the cold: cake or bacon sandwiches should do the trick. 

If you are anything like us, you will have an odd spare glass jar about the place (perhaps you even buy jam specifically because it’s in a nice jar?). Before you send them all off to be recycled, have a go at making a winter lantern. 

The candles here stand in sea salt, which sparkles and catches the light, while the scattered spices add a touch of interest and deliciously scent their surroundings. When choosing a candle for your jar, consider its proportions: jam jars require a taller candle, while shorter, wider jars suit a tea light. The coastal charms you hang off the neck of the jar can be as rustic or sparkly as you like to suit your own taste. 

As with all candles, do not leave them unattended, and make sure the charms don’t overhang the mouth of the jar. Take care after you have extinguished the flame as the jar may still be hot.


• clean empty glass jars

• string or twine

• thumbtacks

• coastal charms, such as shells, beads, feathers, driftwood or sea glass

• candles

• salt

• star anise

• cinnamon sticks


1. Take a ball of string or twine and leave a ‘tail’ as long as your jar before wrapping string several times around the neck. Tie the two ends together, leaving another long tail.

2. Use a thumbtack to carefully punch holes into some shells – placing the shell on top of a tea-light candle will prevent the shell from shattering and protect your work surface.

3. Unwind the string ‘tails’ so the strands are separated. Thread shells, beads, feathers, sea glass and driftwood on to the separate strands. Make a knot below each.

4. Fill the bottom of the jar with salt, scatter cloves, star anise and tiny shells on top. Cut a candle to fit the jar with a serrated knife, use a tea light for a lower jar. Light with a match and enjoy.

Click through our gallery below to see the winter lantern in progress:


Shore Cottage Studio consists of three generations of artists living and working on the Wirral Peninsula. They run short creative courses taking inspiration from their surroundings in fused glass, photography, textiles and laser-etching. They also exhibit their work and produce commissions. Oh, and there is usually cake. You can book a course or commission a piece on their website