Glass act: Mason jars aren’t just for grandma anymore

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mason_jar_sidebarChances are you’ve encountered a Mason jar lately. Whether it’s in stores being marketed as a centerpiece or vase, in a photo being used to hold foods or in someone’s home as a drinking glass, Mason jars aren’t just for making homemade jam or preserving food anymore — bloggers and crafters everywhere have repopularized the Mason jar as a whole new trend.

“Growing up in Texas, we used to use Mason jars for all sorts of things,” Lindzi Shanks, blogger for The Trendy Sparrow, said. “Of course, that was back when you actually ate your grandmother’s homemade jam out of a Mason jar first, instead of running to your local craft store to buy a pack. Today, people are using Mason jars for a number of things and are really testing the creative bounds of what a Mason jar can do.”

For bloggers, that often includes recipes, party planning tips and photographs that utilize the numerous uses of the Mason jar. But they certainly weren’t invented to be used as picturesque props.

John Landis Mason, a tinsmith and inventor from New York City, invented Mason jars in 1858. Canning as a method of preserving food had been popular for over 50 years by then, and his Mason jar used carefully cut thread, as well as a rubber ring in the lid to create an airtight seal. Mason quickly sold his idea to a number of companies, which were able to manufacture the jars and sell them at low prices, causing many home canning and preserving projects across the United States in preparation for the summer. Today, some of those same companies that started making Mason jars in the late 1800s, including Ball and Kerr, are still some of the most popular choices in Mason jars.

Canning became less popular in the 1950s, when refrigerators were introduced as household items. Foods no longer needed to be preserved in jars, but they re-emerged in the late 2000s, with the help of Pinterest. The site, which became popular for sharing DIY projects, revived the Mason jar’s popularity as more than just a jam container, with instructions for how to use them as table centerpieces, soap containers, home storage and so much more.

Pinterest isn’t the only site or publication that has jumped on the Mason jar bandwagon.  Martha Stewart has lots of recipes on her blog that use Mason jars, and Amanda Rey of Austin, Texas, has started a popular company that sells meals and desserts in Mason jars delivered straight to your door. Another subscription delivery company called Darby Smart, which sends its members materials for DIY projects as well as already-made artisanal crafts, has a number of DIY projects and ready-made gifts involving Mason jars available for order. “It’s one of the most popular types of items we sell,” a representative for Darby Smart said. “People love Mason jars.”

Barbara Menn, a native of the Chicago suburbs, saw Mason jars used as a centerpiece at a bridal shower and decided they’d be perfect for the shower she was planning for her niece. “I thought they were very cute,” she said. “They’re very, very popular.” Her Mason jar centerpieces will be oversized, with pink roses in each jar and a bridal garter around the mouth of the jar for decoration.

Using Mason jars as wedding décor is another huge trend. Whether they’re used as bridesmaid gifts, table centerpieces or lanterns to light up a dance floor, they give a rustic and homey feel to any wedding. And since the jars come in various sizes, almost any gift can be wrapped and presented in a Mason jar.

“People are using Mason jars as flower vases, candle holders, wine glasses, craft supply storage, and more,” Shanks said. “Just search ‘Mason jar’ on Pinterest- it’s a craft overload.”


How to transform Mason jars

For more ideas, click here to visit The DePaulia’s Pinterest board.

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