Fun with Spice Jars


I became slightly obsessed with these apothecary-style spice jars after finding them in Box #1. First I washed them thoroughly and set them out to air dry.

Then I acquired some labels that had a vintage feel to them. I got them in gold with a similar font style to the originals. They aren’t exactly the same, but I think they have the same feel. I used a little piece of a sticky note to help me place them uniformly because it would drive me crazy if the labels weren’t on evenly. (New on the left, old on the right.)

I got the labels here, if you’re interested. You could make your own, if you’re doing a similar project. I decided to order them because I have a lot of trouble making labels come out right and I was feeling real particular about these labels looking a certain way.

I cleaned up a vintage spice rack (made by 52’s father) and used spoon oil to restore the wood.

I only had 10 jars to begin with, but I had so much fun with them that I got more jars, winning them in an auction on eBay. They were a lot cheaper on eBay than other places I’ve seen them for sale (such as etsy). The obsession spilled over into cleaning out my entire spice cabinet in the kitchen, taking everything out, wiping down the shelves, finding out what spices I have, digging spices out of forgotten corners, and taking stock. Then I reorganized the cabinet and found a lot more space after storing many of my spices in the spice rack on the wall. So, it turned out to be an inspiring little obsession, and I also love making brands go away. I’m not really sure just how old the jars are (some of the ones I got on eBay are Wagner jars, some not, and Wagner jars were produced in the 50s and 60s), but in any case, they have an old-fashioned sensibility about them from the apothecary style.

I have more of the jars than would fit in the rack, also filled with spices, and I’ll come up with some way to display them, too.

My spices have been a mess for a long time, so it felt really good to get them organized, and I think the jars turned out gorgeous, restored and updated.

Makes me want to cook!

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on March 17, 2011  

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  1. 3-17

    They look beautiful. You have inspired me to want to clean out my spice cabinet. I know it needs a good washing too.

  2. 3-17

    Strange, I just went through all my herbs and spices. A lot got tossed, way past their dates and stale. I now glue a small dot type label on the bottom of my jars and mark the date. It doesn’t take long, time gets away and they do get old. Your jars and labels are beautiful. Love the spice rack, too.

  3. 3-17

    Oh my god, those jars are so beautiful! You really make me want to reorganise my spices, too. :)

  4. 3-17

    The spice jars look fabulous in that gorgeous spice rack. 52 obviously inherited his talents from his Dad 8)

  5. 3-17

    That is just stunning!!! Ive been meaning to do the same thing but havent found a spice rack that I like yet. Drooling over that one how gorgeous!!!

  6. 3-17

    I love how your spice rack and the beautiful spice jars turned out. So pretty and functional.

  7. 3-17

    I think I may have to start looking for these jars! I LOVE this!

  8. 3-17

    I got rid of my spice racks because I was constantly reading that you should keep spices in a dark place,like inside a cupboard or drawer. So, is that not true or maybe using spices rather quickly, it doesnt matter? I know that there are metal,vintage looking spice jars by Martha Stewart,etc.

  9. 3-17


  10. 3-17

    I am LOVING that spice rack!! You have a real treasure there, Suzanne, and you did a beautiful job on the jars and their labels. Doesn’t that organization make you feel wonderful?
    By the way…Happy St Patrick’s Day to everyone. Are you wearing green?

  11. 3-17

    The spice rack is lovely!

    I used to see similar racks with jars (ok, not quite as lovely!)at the thrift shop, but of course have not been able to find one now that I actually want one!

  12. 3-17

    I love your spice rack. I keep all my spices in a cupboard because thay don’t match. I Just got 12 spice jars that match my Pfatlzgraff stoneware but haven’t decided which spices to put in them yet since thay will be out in the open,and I want the ones I use the most right by the stove.
    Just recently I learned on “goog eats” that you should always but whole spices and grind them as needed. The whole spices last for several years instead of just one. I bought a cheep coffee grinder dedicated for that. The difference in the taste and smell is worth the extra time it takes to grind when neeeded.

  13. 3-17

    I am lusting after your spice rack! And the fact that it was made by 52’s father just makes it priceless. I don’t have the wall space but if I had that, I’d find some. Color me green with envy and Happy St. Paddy’s Day to ya!

  14. 3-17

    I love the spice rack! Did 52’s father carve the scrool work? I cleaned out my spice cabinet not too long ago…already needs it again. I do have a rack for everyday spices…but what do I do with my containers of spices I buy in bulk. I think I need to find some friends to share with!
    Lovely project!

  15. 3-17

    Your spice jar project turned out great. I love the rack.

  16. 3-17

    Beautiful job! LOVE the spice rack!!! Go 52’s dad!

  17. 3-17

    The original labels are exactly like the ones my mother used to have. I remember her first spice rack, acquired in the early 70’s when I was just a grade-schooler. This brings back great memories, and as everyone has said, is gorgeous! I keep mine in a small drawer next to my stove. They lay on their sides so I can see the labels, and are always close when I need them!

  18. 3-17

    Those look beautiful and the workmanship in the cabinet is fabulous. I love carved wood things.
    I just got a new (to me) antique spice rack from an auction and filled it with my spices. Mine has a door on it with the different spices on the outside and inside it has a complete list of how to use the spices. I think it is probably from the 40’s. I painted the whole kitchen and dinette before I put it up and cleaned out the cupboard. I didn’t get nearly all mine in it either.

  19. 3-17

    We had spice jars like that and a wooden rack when I was little. Now I’m wishing my mother had kept them! They look great! Were did you order the labels from?

  20. 3-17

    Heather, there is a link in the post to where I got the labels!

  21. 3-17

    Very nicely done.

  22. 3-17

    I have to go thru my spices too, but not for the purpose of making them organized and beautiful but for moving in a couple months. Moving overseas, they won’t let me take the open ones ~ :hissyfit: Well, perhaps once on the other side of the move, I can buy new ones and get some great vintage jars like yours. :happyfeet: I love your shelf too! Great job!

  23. 3-17

    Every since I found bugs in my paprika, I have kept all my spices in the back of the fridge door. I have them lined up in the bottom shelf. But, I do love what you have done, and there is no way for bugs to get in. Beautiful spice rack and jars.

  24. 3-17

    Luv it. What a wonderful spice rack.

  25. 3-17

    Love the spice rack. Such a beautiful way to keep the spices that you use all the time. The jars just set it off to perfection. Love the fact that it was made by 52’s father.

  26. 3-17

    They look wonderful in their new homes. With the plastic stoppers they will stay fresh a lot longer.

  27. 3-17


    P.S. Good submission for Things Organized Neatly!

  28. 3-17

    I absolutely love :heart: your spice rack! I have a ‘thing’ for old jars and bottles and those look marvelous. You go girl!!

  29. 3-17

    Suzanne, those bottles in that spice rack look absolutely beautiful. Great job!!!

  30. 3-17

    The spice rack is stunning! Your spice bottles turned out beautifully, too. The whole thing is a feast for the eyes.

  31. 3-17

    AWESOME!!!! Unfortunately, I don’t have as much wall space in my kitchen for a spice rack. That really looks so cool!!!!

  32. 3-17

    The rack and jars are beautiful! Reminds me of one my granny had that was very similar but with only 2 shelves.

  33. 3-17

    Beautiful Suzanne. I am so glad you put them to use and have them displayed in the spice rack made by 52’s father to boot. What a fantastic find. Now how about those old curtain rods that you found?

  34. 3-17

    Beautifully done. I’ve done something similar ~ I have a few vintage spice bottles/jars & some that are new. Hobby Lobby has some adorable little jars w/gasket lids, which I especially like.

    Blessings from Ohio…Kim<

  35. 3-17

    The whole effect is beautiful…LOVE the wooden rack! I too have a vintage rack of my mother’s with the same style jar. I don’t find it as convienient to use as the plastic containers the product comes from the store in because the narrow neck of the jar is too small to get a measuring spoon into. Most of mine are empty except for several that contain loose leafy spices that can be easily shook into whatever I’m cooking. Just wondering if you have this problem & if so, how you will overcome it. It looks great though & inspires me to try to find a way to be happy using mine.

  36. 3-17

    drucillajoy, they have the same size opening as some of the spice containers I have from the store. (Depends on the brand. The plastic jars have bigger openings, but I have trouble with them sometimes for other reasons, like the lift-up tab breaking etc.) It depends also on the style of the measuring spoon, whether it’s round or oblong. I just use a smaller measuring spoon if I need to.

  37. 3-17

    Now you’re the new “Spice Girl”…:)
    Congrats on a fantastic job well done. The spice jars look great & the spice rack is beautiful holding all of your treasures.
    You are an inspiration to all us gals who have great intentions, long “idea & dream” lists, yet get interrupted by life & all its pesky diversions.
    Thank you for being a great muse!

  38. 3-17

    I think this is one of your simplest, yet useful and nice projects…and Thanks to 52’s Fathers gift of the cabinet, made even more beautiful…Great Job…
    I buy old spice cabinets…renail if the little boards are loose, paint them to match even if they are slightly different…I would put my small Salt and Pepper collections in them and hang them randomly on the wall…I used a couple for a Pez container collection one time as well…

  39. 3-17

    Suzanne, your spice jars are beautiful. Good for you!!

  40. 3-17

    It would drive me nuts not having them in alphabetical order…LOL!!! :clover:

  41. 3-17

    your jars look beautiful.. i love the rack also, have never seen one exactly like that.. my jars came from the 50s, i know, because that is when i bought them, about 1953. my mothers might be a little older, but brought them home after she passed to keep always… did a great joy restoreing yours…is there anything you cant do????? everything you do always comes out so pretty… thanls for shareing…joyce

  42. 3-17

    I have some of my grandmothers jars that are similar and after seeing your’s decided I needed some more for our summer home we are getting this year (retirement is getting closer!) I was looking on ebay and was ‘watching’ some–it was probably you! lol…I’ll keep looking.

  43. 3-17

    I love what you did with the jars. I need to get my spices organized, too.

  44. 3-17

    I refill my jars at the local co-op, those style jars would be great! Gonna have to go e-bay now…or maybe there is what I will look for next antiquing trip.

  45. 3-17

    I am loving the jars. I have a glass container obsession. I would love to have a rack like that but have no where practical to put it.

  46. 3-17

    :moo: It looks great and it is of course satisfying to organize and clean something. I have always heard, however, the there is a reason spice racks went out of fashion – exposure to sunlight and kitchen heat degrades the spcies. The really, relaly old fashioned spice storage (think 150 years ago) were chests with drawers, some with locks and keys. I like the idea from the poster who puts a round label on the bottom with the date. I’m going to do that.

  47. 3-17

    Inspired! My “To Do” list just keeps growing & growing & growing…….

  48. 3-17

    I think it’s okay to have spices out as long as they’re not in direct sunlight or too close to the stovetop heat. I use my spices a lot, and they’re more likely to go bad hidden and forgotten. Plus, it adds to the joy of cooking to have them on display and readily available!

  49. 3-18

    Suzanne, you inspire me to make the ordinary extraordinary! Tell 52 that the spice rack is awesome! You are blessed.

  50. 3-18

    I Love, love, LOVE them!!! I want a rack like that in my kitchen too; it’s awesome that it was made by a family member :sheep:

  51. 3-19

    I loved this project! So cute, so vintage. Nice photos!

  52. 3-19

    Ooh nice! That makes a really eye-catching display.

  53. 3-20

    this is great! I recently inherited an old apothecary cabinet with jars. they are really neat, but I wasn’t sure what I could use them for. spices! they don’t all match but I don’t think that will matter. thanks for the idea! yours look so pretty!

  54. 3-22

    My mom had the exact same jars with the same label as your nutmeg jar in the photo above. There were about 18 jars in a wooden rack. They all went to the Goodwill when we cleaned her house out last year. So sorry. I would have been happy to send them to you. Timing is everything, I guess.

  55. 3-30

    Just so you know I totally blamed you when my husband asked what the giant box was after the postman left… It contained the vintage spice rack and 16 apothecary spice jars which I simply HAD to have after I saw yours.

  56. 3-30

    They’re addicting! You’ll need more than 16! Get back to ebay!

  57. 3-30

    First I have to find room in the sink between all the eggs I have to wash tonight to get these 16 cleaned. One batch at a time!
    I’m excited to order labels. The beloved paintings in my kitchen have already been relocated to make room for the new star. I do have a question, my spice rack came with two ceramic drawers in the bottom…what does one put in those little drawers?

  58. 3-30

    I don’t know! Mine doesn’t have any drawers.

  59. 4-18

    Hi Suzanne,

    As the person who made the labels for you I want to thank you for including the link to my site, Bowfin Printworks. I have already had two customers who mentioned seeing my labels here. Your spice rack looks fabulous!

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