Is it just me, or have ginger jars been everywhere lately? They’re totally classic and traditional - so they’re nothing new (well, not since ancient China, anyways). But I’ve seen them a lot lately; they were all over this month’s Lonny Mag:
They’re pretty, and interesting. And I really like it when they’re juxtaposed against some modern elements.
So when I found this creamy-peachy-beigey lamp at Value Village I noticed it looked like some of the hexagonal ginger jars I’ve seen (and the top looked like the domed lid of a ginger jar).
(Ginger jar above from Ruby Lane)
And I wanted to recreate the look of ginger jar lamps I’d seen, like this lovely Ralph Lauren one:
All I used was some spray paint, a blue Sharpie marker, and some patience!
I started by taking off the price tag. Side note: this is one of those pet peeves I have where the rage I feel for such an annoyance is completely unproportional to the actual amount of inconvenience. But seriously. I hate price sticker goo! There is, however, a way to remove it: rub canola oil on it, and scrape it off with an old gift card (or some other plastic scraping device.) Just keep rubbing the oil in and scraping it off, and it’ll be shiny and new in a couple minutes.
I prepped the lamp for spray painting by covering the cord, harp, and bulb area with tin foil (it doesn’t come loose like painter’s tape). I sprayed the lamp with a primer, then a semigloss white. (I chose semigloss white because that’s what I had in my paint stash. You could use a gloss, but you may have to be extra careful about not smudging the marker.)
While the paint cured I spent some time studying ginger jars - what motifs/designs/patterns are common? What do I like? And I drew out some possible designs for my lamp.
After the paint was fully dry (like, a couple days later), I lightly drew on the main shapes of my design with pencil.
Tip: Try to keep your pencil lines to just map out the basic shapes of the design (not the intricate designs), because you don’t want to be erasing a ton later (it takes time to do all that erasing and you have to be careful about streaking the marker ink.)
Then I used my blue Sharpie to draw on the main shapes of the design, drawing the same thing on each side.
At this point go back and erase your pencil lines.
A few things to consider…
… for the ‘type A’ personalities: Don’t get too hung up on making everything precisely identical. Repeat the same design around your lamp, but if things are slightly crooked or different I think it is actually the right look - more like an antique that would have been made by hand, and less like it is mass produced.
…if you’re working with a lamp with rounded sides it may be harder to create symmetrical designs, so maybe plan something that is more curving and unsymmetrical - like vines, trees, dragons, etc.
After the main shapes were on the vase I just kept adding layers of design (while the kids napped and I was watching a good chick flick). Every now and then give yourself a break to let the ink dry a bit (so you don’t end up streaking and smudging it) and also to study the design and see what you need to add.
Here are some pictures of the stages (this was done at different times often day, so forgive some of the poor lighting.)
It’s obviously not a DIY for everyone - but I LOVE doodling, so I really enjoyed doing it. And you don’t have to stick to a traditional ginger jar look either - you could do all sorts of doodles on any lamp, and I think it could look really great! Here’s a close up of some of the design:
And here’s my finished lamp:
(And do you like the painting? I commissioned it from an artist I love. He’s two. Ha ha! I specifically asked my son to paint me a picture with blue and orange.)
There you go! My DIY ginger jar lamp.