Upcycle a Vintage Lantern Into a Candle Holder

Today I have a super simple [and I do mean simple] project: how to upcycle a  vintage lantern into a farmhouse candle holder. It involves a special secret that will blow your mind it’s SO simple(!).

Related Posts: upcycle a light fixture into a lantern, vintage cage light into lantern, a lantern diorama

Upcycled Vintage Lantern Into a farmhouse candle holderadirondackgirlatheart.com

Note: This post contains affiliate links for [the same or similar] products used to complete the project discussed. This is both for your convenience as well as to support my website, since I receive a small compensation whenever you click on a link and make any sort of purchase, for which I thank you 🙂 See my full disclosure here.

What’s the Big Deal? 

Antique rusty Monarch lantern You might be thinking, “So what’s the big deal?” Just pop a candle into the middle of the lantern and call it done. But in fact, the center of the lantern is obstructed.

Whats the issue with this vintage lantern_As you can see in this photo, there’s a bump where the wick comes up from the oil reservoir, and so a candle won’t sit flat. But I really wanted to turn this lantern into a cool rustic candle holder.

So I put on my thinking cap and imagined how I might be able to overcome this problem. Perhaps something could be put over that bump to create a flat surface for a candle. But what?

Antique rusty Monarch lantern with tuna can covering wick and wick openingInterestingly, one of my first thoughts was a tuna fish can(!). So in that moment, I decided to have tuna for lunch.

I made a sandwich, washed the can, and placed it over the wick–perfect fit for this Dietz Monarch lantern!

Tuna can with peroxide and saltThe next problem I faced was how to make the exterior of the can look old and rusty, to match the lantern. I looked online and read several articles that said to apply peroxide and salt to the can and leave it over night. 

In the photo above you see what the can looked like after sitting for 24 hours with this mixture. Clearly, it had no effect. But as it turns out, I had a back-up plan.

Materials to Convert a Vintage Lantern Into a Farmhouse Candle Holder

Tuna can with black and cinnamon spray paint


Aging the Tuna Can to Match the Upcycled Vintage Lantern

Spray Paint and Tuna Cans It was really just a matter of giving the can a coat of “Cinnamon” paint, allowing it to dry and then applying a very light coat of black paint, being sure to allow some of the Cinnamon “rust” to show through.

[Note: you may have noticed that I have shown two different cans of black paint in my photos. I actually have no idea which one I used. I have an area in my garage set up for spray painting and their are lots and lots of cans everywhere, LOL.]

Tuna can after sprayed with cinnamon and black spray paint The end result is pretty darn close to the same color as my lantern. Depending upon the color of your lantern, you’ll want to apply more or less of the black paint to create a good match.

I come across old rusty lanterns like this one fairly often at sales and they are usually pretty cheap since most people think of them as junk.

Mine was a $3 flea market find–a bit more than I’ve paid for many others, but well worth it because it turned out so nicely with the “tuna can fix.”

Vintage lantern with ivory candle A typical 4″ pillar candle fits absolutely perfectly on the can!

Decorating with the Upcycled Vintage Lantern

Side view of vintage lantern and rattan wrapped bottles It works well with some of my rattan covered bottles in this early fall display in my kitchen.

Antique lantern and rattan wrapped bottles display I hung a sweet berry wreath from a small smooth wire prong on the lantern, and now things are beginning to look festive!

Antique lantern with ivory candleI should add then when I bought the lantern, the surface was dry and chalky (see earlier photos), so I cleaned it up using all the tricks I’ve laid out in my post about cleaning and caring for rusty metal.

The surface looks more appealing now and none of the rust will flake off or leave marks on furniture.

Vintage lantern with red candle and Christmas decorations, including snowmanThe beauty of this antique lantern is that it can be accessorized to celebrate an assortment of holidays. I think it looks striking with a red candle and pine pick, perfect for Christmas, or even Valentine’s.

How would you use it for other holidays throughout the year??

Upcycled Vintage Lantern into Farmhouse Candle Holder Lit in the DarkSince all the parts on these antique Monarch lanterns are metal and they were created to contain fire, I can safely light the candle. It creates a soft mellow glow in the kitchen at night that is just lovely.

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I’d love it if you’d pin for later 🙂

Lantern with red candle: Learn how to upcycle a vintage lantern into a farmhouse candle

Learn How to Upcycle a Vintage Lantern Into a farmhouse candle holderadirondackgirlatheart.com


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  1. Nothing makes me happier than when two unrelated pieces fit together perfectly. It’s like that tuna fish can was made for that lantern. They just needed you to bring them together. 🙂

  2. I’m mentally kicking myself right now because I saw one of these lanterns last week at an estate sale and didn’t get it 😒 I really love this idea, but I would use a battery operated candle instead of having an open flame. I appreciate all your wonderful ideas!

    1. Bummer Cecilia! I bet another one will turn up soon 🙂 A battery operated candle would work just fine! Thanks for the kind words–

  3. Diana, you are just full of great ideas!! I love the lantern styled both ways but the Christmas absolutely made me giddy!! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Well, I just gave away two lanterns!! But what a good idea. The only thing I would change is I would use a candle with battery. Why? Our home burned down (not from a candle) but I just can no longer burn real candles. I definitely will use how to make rusty. I never knew, but now I do!!

  5. I prefer real candles when it is safe to use them. I would trade out for a battery candle and drape the lantern with fake spider webs for Halloween, maybe with some potion bottles nearby! Will have to keep an eye out for these lanterns now! Great job!

    1. You always have such great ideas Kathy–that’s your super power!! Love your Halloween idea to bits. Thanks for sharing it with us and good luck finding a lantern or two for yourself 🙂

  6. Hey Diana, I love your vision. An old lantern? A tuna can? Farmhouse chic!! Thanks for sharing! I hope this is only being submitted once…..

  7. I am so wanting one of those old lanterns, Diana! I especially love the way you did it up for the holidays. So pretty. I gotta find a flea market! Thanks for sharing your innovative “up-cycle.”

  8. In addition to the cinnamon paint color, you can actually sprinkle real cinnamon on the wet paint to get a faux rust finish. Just brush off any excess to get your desired look. You get added texture and the benefit of the spicy scent!

  9. Hi, Diana…great fix, I’m sure you used the satin/matte finish black as the shiny cap black would have been glossy. Such a fun and simple idea. I don’t see why you couldn’t sponge acrylic on this also! Have a great week.

    1. Ha ha, good detective work, Sandi 😉 Glad you liked the project. The can had a weird slippery service and acrylic paint would have slid right off. It was much easier [for me] to give it a couple of coats with spray paint…

  10. I love this idea! I know I have passed up on some in the past but I will be on the lookout for them now. Thanks for Sharing such great ideas!

  11. Very clever, Diana. At first glance, I didn’t even notice the added piece. Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm. Pinning!

  12. Diana…love all of your fall ideas, easy and look great. Wanted to send you a bit about your Mother…I hope you have a great hospice experience, it can be soooo good! I will keep you Mom in my prayers for a peaceful ending. And a hug for you in this troubled time….we wil all still be here! Emily

    1. So far the experience has been very good Emily–thank you SO much for your prayers and encouragement. They mean the world.

  13. I love the look of this lantern turned Christmas decoration, Diana! I for sure are going to keep my eye peeled for one when I am thrift/treasure shopping. Thanks for the idea!

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