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Coloring Mason Jars

Jan
16


I love vintage green and blue Mason jars, but I don’t have very many of them and they can be hard to find. I also don’t like to buy jars. I have a lot of free jars already. I was intrigued when I came across this tutorial for tinting Mason jars in rainbow colors using a mixture of water, food coloring, and Mod Podge. Canning jars used to come in all kinds of pretty colors such as blue, green, and amber. Why they stopped doing that, I don’t know, but they are the most beautiful jars if you can find them.

Here is one that I have in green.

It’s the real deal, a vintage Mason’s Patent Nov. 30 1858 jar. Can I recreate that look using nothing more than a mixture of glue, water, and food coloring? I had to find out! I followed the tutorial linked above and had some trouble. The idea itself is a great one, but after a number of trials, I want to share with you what went wrong and what worked for me–so this is both a review of the process and my own tutorial take-off on the method.

One, however many jars you want to do, go with a 1:2 ratio on the water to the glue. The quantities in the original tutorial are a little fuzzy. (“A tablespoon or so,” for example.) Forget the “or so” or your mixture will be too thin. Not to mention, a 1:2 ratio in tablespoons is far too much for a pint jar. Or even a quart jar. One teaspoon water and two teaspoons glue will do a pint jar. Two teaspoons water and four teaspoons glue will do a quart jar. (You can do multiple jars at once–just multiply the quantities.)

Two, go heavy on the food coloring! I tried three drops the first time, 9 drops the second time (on a quart jar). My second attempt made a green jar similar to the color of the vintage green jar. I used that much or more on a pint jar quantity of the mixture when I made a purple jar–I wanted a deeper color. I used even more when I did a pint-sized blue jar. When you mix the water and food coloring, then add the glue and mix, you can add more food coloring to the mixture until you’re satisfied.

Three, DON’T ADD THE GLUE DIRECTLY TO THE JARS. It’s difficult to properly mix the water/dye solution with the glue in the bottom of the jar. It ends up leaving gummy unincorporated glue on the bottom of the jar that takes a long time to bake out. Mix the water/dye and the glue in a separate bowl and add all together to the jar. I find it easiest to use a paper bowl that can be put in the trash afterward. (Remember that you don’t want to be washing excess glue mixture down your plumbing.)

Four, skip the drain time suggested in the original tutorial. Take the jar directly to the oven for the best color retention.

Five, when you place the jars on the cookie sheet, line the cookie sheet with aluminum foil before placing a sheet of waxed paper or parchment paper on top. I found that when I lined the cookie sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper only, as the jar continued to drain and start baking in the oven, the mixture would soak through. A sheet of aluminum foil underneath will protect your cookie sheet.

Six, place the jar upside down on the cookie sheet for no more than three minutes then turn the jar upright (using kitchen gloves to move the jar, of course). This avoids a collection of gummy residue at the rim. Carefully wipe the rim then return the jar to the oven, upright.

Seven, my oven doesn’t have a “warm” setting so at first I set it on the lowest temperature it would go–170 degrees. Later, I experimented at 200 degrees and that worked better (faster). It also occurred to me that you could bake these in an Excal! As to the baking time, bake as long as you need to. I have found that some streaks may remain no matter how long you bake. In most cases, at 200, it takes 30 minutes to an hour, but it’s variable by the jar size and the thickness of the mixture. Once you remove the jar from the oven, let it set to cool and thoroughly harden before placing anything inside of it.

Eight, if your jar comes out too pale, re-do it (same jar). Just let the jar cool and repeat the process.

Nine, if it doesn’t come out how you like it AT ALL, run hot water into the jar with a few drops of dish soap. Let sit overnight. The next day, run more hot water and soap in the jar and scrub it out. The longer you let it sit and dissolve, the easier it is to clean. You can restore the jar to its previous sparkling clear state any time you like.

Jars I didn’t like, soaking to clean out:

Ten, (with the above changes) it DOES work!

Jars I loved:

In addition to the items listed below, you will also need a bowl, measuring spoon, aluminum foil, waxed paper or parchment paper, and, of course, your jars.

Remember your ratio is 1:2 (water:glue) multiplied out to however many jars you want to do. This “recipe” is for one pint jar.

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How to Color Mason Jars:

1 teaspoon water
food coloring (to your liking)
2 teaspoons Mod Podge in gloss

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Add water, food coloring, and Mod Podge to a small bowl.

Mix well and add more coloring until you’re satisfied.

Pour mixture into a pint jar.

Turn the jar carefully to distribute the mixture all over the inside of the jar.

Holding the jar over the bowl, slowly pour out the mixture, turning the jar as you do, in order to coat the mouth of the jar.

Place jar upside down on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper or parchment paper on top of a sheet of aluminum foil. Put it in the oven for three minutes.

Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and turn the jar upright. Wipe rim carefully with a paper towel to remove excess then return the jar (upright) to the oven. Bake until the color is clear and beautiful.

This is a very quick and easy project, and something you could even do with kids. The part in which you are actually doing something is just a few minutes. You’ll need to plan at least an hour for this project, but it’s kind of like making bread–most of the time involved, you aren’t doing anything.

Some additional notes: You can’t use jars treated with this application for holding flowers in water. The glue will dissolve. On the other hand, this is also an upside because you can always dissolve the glue and wash out the jar if you want to. Also remember that you should never use the jar for food, of course. Jars colored with this method are for craft and (non-food) storage.

Mod Podge is a waterbase sealer, glue, and finish. You can find it in most large craft stores, or online. After buying the Mod Podge, I saw this tutorial on how to make homemade Mod Podge using Elmer’s Glue with water (for matte) or the addition of varnish (for gloss). You will need gloss for this process.

If you really want to use your colored jar to hold flowers in water, you’ll have to color the jar on the outside. Here is a method using glass paint and thinner that is ragged onto the outside of the jar.

The glass paint/thinner method doesn’t appeal to me for a couple of reasons (including the special supplies), so I haven’t tried that one. The Mod Podge method is too easy–and I have other true vintage colored jars to hold flowers in water. I also like that I can find the supplies for the Mod Podge method right at home–mostly in my kitchen–and next time, I’ll even make my own Mod Podge. For non-food storage and craft purposes, I think this one is the way to go. I even like that I can wash out the jars if I ever want to use them for canning–or just change the color! (I considered trying to apply the Mod Podge mixture to the outside of the jars as an experiment, then decided that wasn’t a good idea as handling the jars during the process would be next to impossible. Being able to put flowers in water in the jars wasn’t important enough for me to pursue it. If you try that, let me know.)

My “new” green jar, left, and a vintage green jar.

When Morgan saw me experimenting with this process, she requested a blue jar. The “new” blue jar, left, and a vintage blue jar.

As you can see, the new blue jar has quite a bit more color than the vintage one. As I experimented, I started having fun trying for deeper color. If you’re going for a true vintage look, use less coloring. If you just want to have fun, use more.

Who’s gonna try this? If you experiment with this or another method of coloring jars, I’d love to hear about your results!

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on January 16, 2012  

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33 Responses
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  1. 1-16
    2:02
    am

    Drat! This is a week late. I just tossed my food coloring because I couldn’t think of a use for it!

  2. 1-16
    6:36
    am

    I’d like to get that opaque look from just before the jars are heated. I’ll have to think about how to do that.

  3. 1-16
    6:42
    am

    KarenAnne, maybe with the matte Mod Podge instead of gloss? I don’t know as I haven’t tried that, but worth the experiment if you want that look. If it doesn’t come out how you like, you can just clean the jar out. That’s one of the things I like about this process–the jar’s not ruined if it doesn’t come out right, you can just clean it out and start over!

  4. 1-16
    7:58
    am

    I love the deep colors you got with your jars! Beautiful!!! I’m going to try this! :yes:

  5. 1-16
    8:14
    am

    I do love the purple colored jar.
    Have seen this idea on Pinterest.
    However, your added tips and detail help a lot.

  6. 1-16
    10:14
    am

    Suzanne, you are a wonder, I wonder what you will do next?

  7. 1-16
    10:24
    am

    I love them! And I have everything to do it with too. I will try with both matte and glossy Mod Podge. They look very pretty in the windows. Thanks!

  8. 1-16
    10:36
    am

    Oh Very pretty!!! But the cats would knock them down for sure. I need some cabinets with glass doors that I do not need for storage, just for pretty. But cabinet space is a premium here.
    I am a new reader of your site, found you through New England Cheese sorry that your year of cheese was over when I was just getting into cheese. However I have read all of your cheese adventures and have been making some. Caerphilly this week.

  9. 1-16
    10:43
    am

    Looks lovely, especially the purple one.

    I have a lot of old colored fruit jars, so I will pass on this craft, but they do look cool. One thing I do with my jars is group them together (like on the top of a cabinet or mantel) and put a sting of white lights in them. I bet that your jars would look neat done up like that! You can also use those little battery powered tea lights that you can get at the dollar store as well.

  10. 1-16
    10:43
    am

    This post is amazing because I am now in the process of looking for vintage colored jars to put in my garden window. My garden window killed my herb garden. So, I’m going to put colored jars in the window with solar light lids. The sun will sparkle through them during the day and the lighted lids will make them sparkle at night. AWESOME!!! Thank you. I am still on a quest for vintage jars, but now I can take my time. What colors do you think I should mix to get an amber?

  11. 1-16
    10:53
    am

    :happyflower: Nice idea but I think I will keep on searching for the original ones. I think I have a couple dozen I store spices and dried beans in, really pretty.

  12. 1-16
    10:56
    am

    Carrie, for amber, maybe the tiniest drop of red in with a lot of yellow?? I haven’t tried that.

  13. 1-16
    11:05
    am

    Carrie, What’s a solar light lid?

    Suzanne, I LOVE this, thanks! I wonder if you coated the OUTSIDE and then varnished it or some such you could use them as canisters? I have a lot of ball jars, I’ll have to try that.

    God , I love this place. Thanks again Suzanne!

    Judi

  14. 1-16
    1:19
    pm

    This project looks fun! I want to try but worry about the glass exploding in the oven. Were there any warnings about that on the directions you got this idea from? Thanks!

  15. 1-16
    3:53
    pm

    Canning jars are intended to be placed in boiling water or at even higher heat in a pressure canner, so as long as you keep the oven low, such as at 200 degrees, you wouldn’t need to worry about the glass exploding. I didn’t have any trouble.

  16. 1-16
    7:03
    pm

    Suzanne, if I ever get around to getting all the stuff together to do this, I will place a skinny glass inside the jar and put water in that to hold flowers. I want deep rose red!!! And that dark blue for forsythia in the spring. :fairy:

  17. 1-16
    7:58
    pm

    I have been wanting to try this! The purple one is just amazing. :moo:

  18. 1-21
    4:51
    pm

    OH! Sooooooooooo cool! I am going to try it, but I want to be able to put water or other liquids into the jar, so I am going to combine your mixture with the technique I found on another blog: http://bridalbuzz.blogspot.com/2009/01/glass-jars-turned-vintage.html I think that brushing the mixture to the outside of the jar should work, if I start at the top, and pivot it from the bottom. I figure that if I get a slight uneveness at the mouth, I’ll put a pretty ribbon around it! I like the fact that your color mixture is completely non-toxic! :sheep:

  19. 1-22
    6:21
    pm

    My daughter and I used the ‘Glass Jars Turned Vintage’ method found at this website…
    http://bridalbuzz.blogspot.com/2009/01/glass-jars-turned-vintage.html
    …to make vases for her backyard wedding last spring. They turned out beautifully AND the finished product is still oven and microwave safe.

  20. 1-25
    7:02
    pm

    I tried it, and mine turned out okay. Yours look much better. Hope you don’t mind, I linked to your blog from mine so people could see better instructions and pictures, and because I love your blog. I gave you total credit for the idea, of course.

  21. 1-26
    7:03
    pm

    I do want to try this.

  22. 3-2
    10:43
    am

    Thank you for this! I just finished trying via the other tutorial and have 4 streaked mason jars…..I will try a redo!

  23. 5-7
    9:36
    am

    Would it be safe to use small votive candles in the colored jars? We are going to use them at my daughter’s wedding and she wants real candles not LED lights.

  24. 5-7
    11:43
    am

    Bobi, I haven’t put candles in the colored jars I made, but what I have seen on other websites where they were making them is that they used them for votive lights.

  25. 7-27
    6:26
    pm

    Thank you for this post! I’m really excited about this! I’m currently trying to color some jars for a light fixture. I made a batch of five, and some of the jars are a bit streaky. What can I do to remedy this?

  26. 9-24
    2:46
    pm

    I would like to use mason jars as pendant lights over my kitchen island but would like to color them amber. Because the heat might melt the glue if done on the inside of the jar, would it be advisable to color them on the outside? By the way, I love this website.

  27. 11-19
    2:26
    pm

    Could you also use Elmer’s school glue? I mean, as long as it dries clear??

  28. 11-25
    5:52
    pm

    Baked mine for over an hour at 200 degrees, and they never became clear. Remained opaque and streaky. Help!!

  29. 4-6
    12:33
    pm

    I just made a batch of purple ones today using the mod podge, water, and food coloring in the inside. They are beautiful! I mixed the mod podge with the violet food coloring and no matter how much food coloring i put in ( i ended up using it all) the mix was a blue color. I figured it was pretty anyways so i baked them. To my utter surprise after 10 mins when i opened the oven i was pleased to see they turned into a deep, dark purple! Exactly what I wanted! I was so happy! Im going to use these at my wedding reception. Wish i could post pictures with this!

  30. 5-9
    9:12
    pm

    Just wondering, but how would you go about making the green jar darker? I am wanting to make a john deere themed centerpiece using a green jar and yellow flowers.

  31. 7-7
    12:15
    pm

    Hi! I know you can’t put liquids in this to drink out of, but could I store spices or dry foods in these for storage?? Am trying to give these as a creative food storage gift to a friend!

  32. 7-7
    12:20
    pm

    I wouldn’t store any foods in it.

  33. 8-20
    9:57
    pm

    I have tried this several times. My first one was great but the next three have heavy runs in them. Really obvious. I don’t know what I did on the first one but how do I keep the runs out. The colors are great. By the way to make orange I used mostly red and a little yellow. Anyway, any suggestions?

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