DIY: Glass Jar Labels

Ikea has some great plain-looking jars that are great for storing things like flour, pasta, rice, and anything that deserves to be in an air-tight, see-through container. I have a collection of about 10 (or more??) so far and though it's quite obvious what the contents are (at least to me) I thought it would be fun DIY project to add labels. I did a lot of brainstorming before I decided on a method.
  • I thought about using etching paint but it's toxic and I didn't want to choose a method where I'd have to empty the jars before application because I'm lazy.
  • I thought about chalkboard paint but I didn't like the idea of smudging the chalk on the labels with use.
  • I considered printing labels on clear label paper (like this blog) but I didn't like the idea of having a sticker on the jars. If the corners started to peel, I'd probably go insane because I have OCD and anxiety about things not being in place.
  • My sister suggested we use paper tags but I thought they'd get stained or rip or wrinkled with all the potential messes lurking around every kitchen corner. Also, though the tags could be laminated, you wouldn't see the tags just at a glance - you'd have to go and pick it up and look at it.
So finally, after months (seriously, it was literally months) of going back and forth and indecisiveness, a few weekends ago I told myself I HAD to make a decision. I decided to use stencils and glass paint because I thought it would be the simplest, quickest, easiest to touch up method.

Here's what you'll need:

I picked up the paint, foam brushes, and stencil from Michaels. The paint was $5, the pack of 10 brushes was $5 (they also sell individual ones for $0.99) and the stencil was $3.

The first step was to clean the surface of the glass to be painted with rubbing alcohol. I did this because the little container of glass paint told me to. But then, out of curiosity, I looked up the reasoning behind using rubbing alcohol. The glass probably might have some dust or fingerprints on it which will prevent the paint from adhering. Soap is not an acceptable cleaner because it leaves a residue that prevents the paint from sticking to the surface. However, rubbing alcohol will clean all that stuff off and it evaporates quickly so you can get working immediately.
Then, I prepared the paint. I squirted a little paint out on a piece of foil, though you can use a palette. I chose foil because it's easy clean up.
Next, I used a small piece of scotch tape to secure the stencil to the jar. Then, using the foam brush, I poked it into paint, painted a few brush strokes on the foil to get rid of the excess, and then sponged the paint onto the glass. I made sure not to load the brush up with too much paint so that it wouldn't seep under the stencil and end up messy and gross. Also I made sure to use a dabbing motion, not a brushing motion, again, to prevent paint seepage. Once I finished sponging the first letter, I carefully peeled off the stencil and gave the paint 2 minutes to dry before moving onto the next letter. If you think it will be easier for you, you can also cut the stencil so that you're not working with the whole sheet but I didn't have much trouble.
Q-tips are a helpful tool to clean up any paint that seeps beneath the stencil, despite your careful dabbing.
You can see a bit of smearing around the 'U.' I carefully used a cotton swab to clean up the edge and get rid of the smudge.
Here's what my jar looked like after I finished stenciling. One coat of paint had an older, almost distressed look, which you might like, but I wanted it to be a bit darker.
So I went back and went over the letters (carefully) using a fine paintbrush. I ended up doing 2 more coats on top of the sponged paint.
Here was the final result:
I also did a bit of freehand writing to specify what type of flour (because we also have a jar of cake flour and bread flour) and the types of sugar (even though the colors make it obvious) because I thought it looked cute. So go forth and label your own jars!


  1. These look great! I am also picky about things being BOTH practical and cute. Labels don't serve a purpose if they won't last or be easy to read. SUPER CUTE! I have 3 jars from Ikea and want to do the same thing.. Thanks!

    1. I'm glad you like it! Hope you have fun DIY-ing and let me know how it turns out :)


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