Ideas for Decorating Jars

Glass baubles glued onto jam jars

Taking a plain jar and decorating it yourself is a great way to save money on gifts for friends or to provide functional art in your home. Put your own spin on a clear glass cotton ball holder for your bathroom or dress up a cookie jar for your child's favorite teacher. Whatever the need is, a hand-decorated jar is always a welcome gift. Here are a few ways you can make a plain jar something spectacular.


Glass etched

Etching is a chemical process that actually eats away the top surface of your glass jar and can be applied in a variety of ways. You can etch a pattern on your jar by painting the etching compound onto the jar with a small to medium paintbrush. Draw a design freehand or use a store-bought stencil to create a pattern or design on your glass jar. Tape off parts of the glass with masking tape and etch the glass between the tape to create a neat linear design. Once you have applied your design, let the etching compound sit on the glass for a set amount of time, and then rinse off. Etching compound is available at all arts and crafts hobby shops.


Painted glass jar

Paint a fun design on your jar using special paint made for glassware and ceramics. Using a small to medium paintbrush, apply your design directly onto your jar surface. This is a popular technique for wine glasses, but a jar gives you more space to apply a design and can incorporate nearly any design. Consider painting multicolored swirls, fun cartoon faces or even your take on a fine arts classic. First you'll have to prepare the surface of the glass with a glass paint surface conditioner, then apply your design. Some glass paints require heat setting in the oven, so read directions on your products before doing your jar painting.

Wire and Bead

Example of wire wrapping

Wire and beading glass or porcelain jars is a widely popular way of making a plain jar into something more aesthetically exciting. Use jewelry wire and glass beads in different colors and shapes to add another dimension to your jar or bottle. Start by wrapping one end of the jewelry wire around the top lip and twist to attach the wire to the jar securely. Then, wrap the wire around the jar at angles, pushing colored beads onto the wire in a pattern. Twist wire in places to create metal swirls and loops, adding beads as you go. When you are done, cut the wire about 4 inches from the end and tuck under other wires along that part of the jar. Look at wire-wrapped jewelry and drinkware for inspiration and ideas.

Focus on the Lid

photo being inserted into tin lid

Create a dramatic lid on a plain clear jar by hot gluing a three-dimensional or dramatic design on the lid or cover. Hot glue buttons, sea shells, silk floral blooms or micro beads onto a smooth metal jar lid for interest. Use collage or a decoupage medium like Mod Podge to create a photo collage on your jar lid. Perfect for a dorm room, a cookie jar lid can be decorated with pictures of friends or family and provide both form and function in a small room.