Holiday Crafts

Published on September 16th, 2011 | by Karen Lee


How To: Solar Jack-O-Lantern

You can make this eco-friendly solar Jack-O-Lantern for less than the price of a real pumpkin. And it’s reusable! Here is how.

You can make this eco-friendly solar Jack-O-Lantern for less than the price of a real pumpkin. And it's reusable! Here is how.
It’s great to support local farmers so I always take a trip to a pumpkin patch every year. Of course we come home with bushels of apples, gallons of apple cider, a dozen of freshly made donuts and a few hefty sized pumpkins. Like I said, I don’t mind supporting my farmers but I find buying pumpkins wasteful since we essentially buy them for just one night. I’d rather spend that money on donuts! (Ok, apples too.)

But seriously, as I promised in Green Tips for a Recycled Halloween, I’m going to show you how to make this reusable, solar Jack-O-Lantern using only a few items and for less than ten bucks! Imagine all the donuts and apples I can buy with the money I’ll save!

Solar Jack-O-Lantern

You will need:

  • Pumpkin Shaped Glass Bowl
  • Masking Tape
  • Orange Color Spray Paint
  • Solar Garden or Walkway Lamp
  • Gloves
  • Mask
  • Black Sharpie Marker

Glass Bowl: I am using a glass bowl that I had but you can buy a fish bowl or a round glass jar at a craft or thrift store for less than $3.99.

Spray Paint: I am using my mom’s old orange spray paint in this picture but if I had to buy one, I would buy Krylon H2O Latex Paint in Bay of Bengal Orange color. The paint is eco-friendly with low VOC.

Solar Lamp: You can buy a solar walkway lamp for $2.88 at Home Depot. Buy the one that you can twist the top portion off so you can use the lamp. It’s an economical way to use solar lamps for your crafts. You can use one of those battery operated flickering candles if you already have them but the idea is to use solar energy!

cut out facial features

To get started, cut out the facial features for your jack-o-lantern or the design you are going to use.

tape the face features

Tape them down on the outside of your bowl. Press the edges down firmly on the glass so that paint doesn’t leak in between the tape and the glass.

In a well ventilated area, with mask and gloves on, cover the bowl evenly and completely with the spray paint. If needed, spray on a second coat, making sure the paint is completely dried before applying a second coat.

spray completely
Make sure you turn and move the bowl around so that paint doesn’t drip, as you can see above.

Let the paint dry completely.

jack-o-lantern !
Gently peel the tape off after the paint dries completely. If there are uneven edges or slight paint drips, don’t worry, that’s where the black Sharpie comes in.

Use a black permanent marker to fill in the facial features, going over any blemishes. Next, insert the solar lamp base into the bowl.

solar lamp base

You can make this eco-friendly solar Jack-O-Lantern for less than the price of a real pumpkin. And it's reusable! Here is how.


My daughter says the paint dripping makes our solar Jack-o-lantern look so creepy that no one will come to our house for trick or treating. I think, then, it served it’s purpose.

What do you think?

As an alternative, you can spray the entire bowl and then design your pumpkin with the Sharpie, especially if you have intricate designs. I only lightly colored in the facial features, so although a Sharpie is not exactly ‘green’, I think for this reusable pumpkin, it’s sustainable enough.

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About the Author

Karen lives a simple, frugal, green life and shares her eco tips and news on ecokaren and is a co-founder of Green Sisterhood, a network of community of green women bloggers, making change. When she's not managing Green Sisterhood or blogging on ecokaren, she is a chauffeur to two greenagers, wife to an accidental recycler, master chef to hungry locavores, seamstress, knitter, and dumpster diver, not necessarily in that order.

9 Responses to How To: Solar Jack-O-Lantern

  1. rachel says:

    Love this idea, Karen! I’ll be on the look-out for glass bowls like that at the thrift store.

    • Karen says:

      Glad you liked it! I don’t know why I didn’t make this earlier! (Probably because solar walkway lamps weren’t around when my kids were little!) Have fun making it! 🙂

  2. What a great idea! I love this. I have a couple of bowls that would be perfect for this. Thank you!

  3. Antinyx says:

    Great Idea, If you are going to make the face opaque with the sharpy, why bother with the tape?  Why not just paint the whole bowl and then draw what you want with the sharpy?

    I think real pumpkins are scarier because in the dark, it is only the eyes and mouth that shine.  The rest is lost in the darkness.  

    Maybe you could use the tape to keep the face un-painted, then paint the jar black.  Remove the tape so only the eyes and mouth shine. 

  4. Karen says:

    I suggested spraying the entire bowl and then designing with Sharpie on Page 5, especially if you have an intricate design.

    You can certainly reverse the colors too. Paint the entire pumpkin BLACK and facial feature in pumpkin orange so that light can shine through in orange color. Good idea!!

  5. Zoeygirl75 says:

    Looks like fun,I can’t wait to try it,Thanks for sharing!

  6. Julie Stewart says:

    Great idea! I have a bunch of old outdoor light fixture covers that have the same type of ribbing. I couldn’t get rid of them, I hate throwing things away. Now I have a purpose for them. Thank you!

  7. Pingback: solar flashlight hack o-lantern – Trust yourself

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