DIY: painted jam jars

It’s fair to say we’re big fans of craft, so one gloomy winter afternoon we decided to try our hand at one of our first DIY projects: jam jar painting. This is a great little project to try if you’re new to crafting/DIY; it’s quick and simple and the finished jam jars can be used in a whole host of different ways. This is what you’ll need to start you off:

  • empty glass jam jars
  • paint samples (we used standard matt emulsion)
  • a paintbrush or stirrer
  • greaseproof paper or old newspaper
  • a plastic jug or container
  • an old cloth or kitchen roll.

The first step is to ensure the jam jars are clean. We soaked ours in hot, soapy water for half an hour, then scrubbed them with a scourer to ensure all labels and glue residue was removed. We collected jars in a range of different shapes and sizes, and we prefer the ones that are a bit unusual, as it makes for a more interesting finished article.

For each jar, pour a generous dollop of your paint into a plastic jug or container. Add a tablespoon of water to thin it out slightly. Make sure you don’t add too much water, as this can affect how well it takes to the glass. Stir the paint mixture thoroughly until it has a smooth consistency. Pour the paint into the bottom of the jar. Then, holding the plastic jug underneath, turn the jar upside down and pour the paint back into the jug. Rotate the jar as you pour so the paint covers the whole of the inside of the as it flows back into the jug. You can repeat this process if necessary to make sure the inside of the jar is fully and evenly covered.

Place each jar upside down on greaseproof paper or newspaper to dry. Depending on the thickness of your paint, it can take up to 48 hours to dry completely. Whilst the jars are drying, intermittently pick them up and wipe any excess paint away from the rim using a cloth or kitchen roll.

Once the jars are fully dried, they are ready to be used. If you intend on using them as vases to be filled with water, make sure you use paint that isn’t water-soluble. Alternatively, you could place a small plastic cup inside each jar, and fill this with water to prevent the inside of the glass from getting damp. We finished our jars off by wrapping strips of hessian fabric from Peach Blossom around the middle and securing it with lots of jute twine from Wedding in a Teacup.  This gave the jars a very natural, rustic feel.

Have a go yourself if you’re in the mood for doing something crafty; we promise they’re really easy to do, and you can have endless fun with colours. If you do have a go, let us know how you get on by commenting below or tweeting us a picture @notonthehighst.

  • Comment by Ben Johnson

    This idea is lovely, I’m thinking about doing it with my kids do you know if there is there a special paint I need to use and can I use anything?


    • Comment by jenniferbaldwin

      Hi Ben! We used normal matt emulsion paint samples, which worked really well. The only advice we would give is that if you intend on filling the jars with water, it’s best to find a non water-soluble paint. Hope this helps!

  • Comment by Jess

    Have seen this idea before but now I’ll give it a go! Lots of jam jars as such little produce this year to fill them with. Am thinking Christmas colours for teachers presents! Thank you NOTHS!!

  • Comment by Hannah

    Would it be safe to store salt in these jars?

    • Comment by jenniferbaldwin

      Hi Hannah. We’re sure this would be absolutely fine, as long as you allow the paint to dry fully. It might even be worth leaving it for up to a week to make sure there is absolutely no moisture left in the paint before you fill it with salt. If you were concerned, you could try covering the inside of the jars with varnish (on top of the paint) in the same way you covered them with paint. This would seal the paint and ensure none would flake off into the salt. Hope this helps!

  • Comment by Hannah

    Brilliant, thanks so much!

  • Comment by claire

    I tried these today and thought it looked amazing to start with but just checked them drying and there are website ‘tide’ marks showing. The inside looks perfect but from the outside they don’t……any suggestions why please??

    • Comment by jenniferbaldwin

      Hi Claire.

      It may be that the paint hasn’t covered the jar evenly inside, although it may look as though it has. Are you using water-soluble paint? If you are, you could try thinning the paint a little with water, so it gives more even coverage. This might mean you need to repeat the process to ensure the jar has a good solid colour, but a thinner consistency of paint will mean a move even coverage.

      Hope this helps!

  • Comment by amanda

    could u put tea lights in them

    • Comment by carol

      yes u could put tea lights in them tho i would use either glass paint or thin the paint more for tea lights as too thick and the light wont shine through

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