DIY Antiqued Apothecary Jars

I have loved old bottles in all shapes, sizes and colors since I was a little kid.  Some of my favorites are the old apothecary bottles, especially those with the original labels still attached.   Currently, two things have kept me from picking up any new bottles to add to my collection, a limited budget and my kids.  $$$ Decorative Bottle + 2 Crazy Kids = Broken Bottle & :( Mom.  But, I recently came up with a cost-effective solution to the problem.  I can proudly display these bottles without the worry of money lost if they are accidentally destroyed during an impromptu pillow fight in the living room.

I found 4 apothecary style jars at various thrift stores and garage sales.  My total investment, $4.00.   Then, I purchased FolkArt Enamel paint in two different colors, Burnt Umber & Cerulean Blue.  This paint is not food safe, so keep that in mind if you intend to use your jars for snacks or candy.  Cost for the paint, $4 (used 1/2 off coupons).   I also used some (non-flammable) paint thinner, but I had that on-hand so no additionally cost there.  FolkArt sells a thinner specifically for this paint and I don’t think it would be a bad investment.  The regular paint finish is opaque and to create a more translucent look you’ll need a thinner.  More on that below.

The two smaller bottles at the top of this post were the trial run, so I made a few adjustments with these last two and as a result have thicker finish.  I’ll share info on both experiments.  First, create paint and thinner mixture.  I did not use a set ratio and it turned out that my first batch was a little too thin.  It was super easy to spread inside the bottles, but the paint was too thinned out and didn’t adhere perfectly when baked.  I actually liked the splotchiness of the first two, since the bottles are supposed to appear antiqued and not brand new.

But, in the true spirit of experimentation I wanted to see what would happen with a thicker layer of paint.  My second batch was significantly thicker and required a lot more time and patience to spread the paint.  To avoid brush strokes I rotated the jar around repeatedly allowing the paint to spread out across the glass and due to the thicker mixture there was a good amount of shaking to speed things along.

Now that the paint has been spread all around, you have to allow the paint to dry for an hour before baking.  So while they were drying I spray painted the lids my current favorite metal finish, Oil Rubbed Bronze.  I taped off the plastic areas before spraying.  After a few thin coats, I left those to dry.

Once the jars have dried the allotted time, you bake them in the oven for 30 minutes.  You don’t pre-heat the oven, because the glass will crack if you place them into a hot oven.  If you use another brand of paint, be sure to read the specific instructions for it.  Some glass paints do not require baking or may require a different temp or time.  Also, I noticed  the paint smell while baking is VERY strong, so I would recommend baking them when the kids aren’t around or be sure the exhaust fan is on high.  After they bake, you have to let them cool.  The end result…the finish on these two bottles was significantly more opaque and smoother than the first batch.  My next (third) batch (when I get my hands on some more bottles) will be with the actual thinner from FolkArt.  I’d like to see what, if any, difference it makes in the final finish.

Now for the labels.  I found several tutorials on how to antique paper and I used this one.  My biggest departure from her method was to use tea vs coffee.  And, it’s important to note the longer you soak the paper the darker the patina.  My favorites I let soak for over 5 minutes before baking.  The tea helps create a speckled effect. Oh, and all the vintage style labels were found courtesy of the Graphics Fairy.  She has lots and lots of cool FREE vintage style graphics.

Once you have the labels completed, it is time to glue them in place.  Be sure to properly clean the glass before gluing.  The bottles will be covered in your fingerprints from all that shaking you did to spread the paint.   I used a Loctite spray adhesive I found at Lowe’s.  There are many different brands and types of glue out there.  Just be sure it adheres to both glass and paper.

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14 thoughts on “DIY Antiqued Apothecary Jars”

  1. These look so cute! I saw some cute jars with spring lids at the dolor tree, I wonder if I could do that on these? I love the labels, too. So clever!

    Thank you for sharing.

  2. These looks great. I’ve done painted jars and vases before, but never with labels. You mention that you baked the jars once painted. What that at 350 degrees? You also mention that you baked the paper after soaking it in the tea. Can you give us some more instruction on that? Thank you.

    1. I believe it was 350, but you definitely want to follow the heating directions according to the paint you purchase. And, the oven was set to it’s lowest temperature for the paper. You have to keep an eye on it the whole time so it doesn’t overheat and burn. The drying process for the paper is really quick.

      Hope that helps!

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