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Upcycled Honey Jar Organizer – Cottage Chic Painted Glass Jar Tutorial

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As I’ve mentioned before, I have a seriously hard time tossing out perfectly good glass jars. They’re so useful! Unfortunately, they’re not actually useful if they’re just sitting in the closet, alone and forgotten. Luckily for this pretty honey jar, I had a plan for it. As soon as my husband finished it off (he puts a little honey on his protein pancakes each morning), I swooped in and saved it from the trash bin so I could share this tutorial! I hope you enjoy the upcycled honey jar organizer I made and can put it to use on a glass jar of your own.

how to paint a glass jar without craft paint or chalk paint

I realize this jar doesn’t look all that different from a zillion other painted jars you’ve seen, but the way I achieved the look is different from any other painted glass jar tutorial I’ve found. It also, in my opinion, works better. Most ‘how to paint a mason jar’ tutorials tell you to either a) get chalk paint or b) use a whole bunch of acrylic craft paint. I’d love to use chalk paint, but it’s pricey and very difficult to find around here. I’ve tried craft paint on jars and I don’t like the way it looks. The paint is frequently streaky, it has a difficult time adhering to the glass, and it has this plastic-y sheen to it.

So what should you use to paint your glass jars if you don’t have chalk paint and don’t want to use craft paint? Interior latex paint! Around there, samples of the ‘better’ quality paint at Home Depot actually cost less by volume than craft paint and it doesn’t have that icky plastic shine to it. Small bottles of craft paint cost close to $2 for 2 oz at the local craft store, but a paint sample costs less than $4 for 8 ounces. Definitely a better deal, plus you can pick whatever color you’d like!

upcycled honey jar organizer

Latex paint will, of course, also have trouble adhering to glass, so you do need a spray primer. I realize spray painting isn’t everyone’s thing, but it doesn’t matter if you’re not a pro for this project because you’ll be covering it up with additional paint. I can get name-brand spray primer for under $5, so I’m sure it isn’t too expensive on the Mainland! Just make sure you pick up ‘matte’ finish primer and matte, flat, or maybe eggshell finish paint.

Materials needed for a painted glass jar (without chalk paint!)

  • A glass jar!
  • White spray primer (matte finish)
  • Latex paint sample (matte, flat, or eggshell)
  • Sandpaper (I used 100 on the pictured jar but have successfully used grits as coarse as 80 and as ‘fine’ as 120). A coarse nail buffing block also works.
  • Matte finish, non-yellowing clear sealant (optional)
  • Mask/respirator for sanding (optional but recommended. I do a lot of woodworking so I use a 3M 6000 half face respirator. It looks like I’m in some post-apocalyptic video game but it works!)
  • Cardboard, newspaper, etc to protect your area while spray priming

How to paint a glass jar with latex paint

To get started, spray prime your jar. I like to place it upside-down on a piece of cardboard (outside!!) and lightly coat the whole jar. A few minutes later, I flip the jar to hit any areas I missed before, typically along the jar’s mouth. Generally, that’s all a jar needs – it doesn’t require multiple coats of primer. You don’t have to meticulously clean the jar with rubbing alcohol ahead of time since you’re applying primer.

painting glass with latex paint

Check your primer can to find out its drying time and, once it’s dry, bring your jar inside and apply your first coat of paint. I find this easiest to do while holding the jar by the mouth, painting the sides, then flipping the jar so it’s once again upside-down so I can paint the bottom.

hold jar by the mouth

It’s important to not paint the bottom before setting it down or you’ll end up getting paint on your hands or work surface! Apply the paint fairly thickly with a foam or soft bristle brush. Try to make it even and not so thick it will run, but don’t worry about layering on super thin coats to avoid streaking. Latex paint doesn’t typically streak as much as craft paint. Things will even out a bit with later coats, and it’s just totally impossible to achieve a completely smooth coat on the first pass, anyway. Plus, you probably want a few lightly visible brush strokes to keep with the cottage chic appearance!

paint jar

Allow the paint to dry for at least an hour and apply another coat. Allow it to dry again and apply a third, then fourth, coat if needed. It depends on the jar, paint, and my mood, but I apply somewhere between 2-4 coats on each jar I paint.

After you’re happy with the jar’s paint, let it dry overnight. Do not try to weather it right away or too much paint will come off!

allow painted jar to dry overnight

Okay, have you actually waited at least overnight? If so, cut a small square of rough sandpaper and carefully distress the jar by sanding away bits of paint. Running the sandpaper over textured areas, like the honeycomb pattern on this jar’s sides, is always a good choice. You may want to wear a mask while sanding the paint. I highly recommend it, but the choice is yours.

sand raised areas

When you’re distressing a jar, try to think about where it would look natural for it to have lost some paint and where natural highlights would be if it weren’t painted. Raised areas, corners, and edges are all natural choices, as are the ridges where the lid screws on.

weather the painted jar

I also like to distress a patch on the upper right and lower left of the “front” and “back” of each jar I distress to help accent its rounded appearance. Just take it easy, distressing a little bit at a time, until you’re happy with your jar’s appearance! Wipe away any paint “dust” with a dry paper towel or soft cloth.

weather the painted jar-2

Last, take your jar back outside and apply a coat of matte clear sealant, if you’d like. It isn’t mandatory, but it does help protect you newly upcycled jar from wear and tear if you plan to use it as an organizer instead of just a decoration.

Ta-da! Now you have an upcycled painted jar and you didn’t have to shell out for chalk paint or settle for a plastic-y appearance. If you have leftover paint from redoing your walls or trim, you can even make custom mason jars that match your decor!

painted upcycled honey jar organizer

You can tie ribbons or twine around your jar for a bit of added pizzaz, like I did with these mason jars:

mason jars with twine bows

I’m glad the colorful/painted/upcycled jar/glass/vase trend has been around for a while. I’ve enjoyed it enormously and hope it sticks around even longer! How about you? Do you like painted or colorful glass? Do you enjoy decorating with glass?


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{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Splendid Little Stars March 30, 2016, 17:05

    What a great idea and a perfect explanation of the project!

  • D. Renée Wilson February 23, 2016, 06:11

    Very cute. 🙂
    I made glazed purple mason jars years ago for my art and trade show merchandising set ups.
    Now they have them in the stores! (That would have saved so much time and $.)
    I tend to hoard my jars for paint water, but painting them would make it hard to tell when the water needs changed.
    I really love how the honeycomb hexagonals on the jar look. It turned out perfectly with your application!

    • Natashalh February 23, 2016, 07:34

      Yes, now you can buy basically any color! When I watercolor (which, sadly, I really haven’t found time to do since last spring) I use two liter plastic paint tubs you can get at the hardware store (the kind with snap-on lids and graduations on the side).

  • Paige February 23, 2016, 03:22

    Painting glass IS really hard. I remember trying to paint a vase for my mom one year and it took sooooo many coats to get rid of the streaks. Interior latex paint is a brilliant way to do it!

    • Natashalh February 23, 2016, 07:30

      Were you using craft paint? Painting glass with craft paint kind of makes me want to smash the glass jar into pieces and throw it away.

  • Julie February 21, 2016, 23:06

    They turned out great…! Defo need to start painting mine up!

    • Natashalh February 22, 2016, 09:13

      Thank you! It’s such an easy, inexpensive way to add some color. =)

  • Gloria Borrero February 18, 2016, 16:49

    I’m sorry to admit that I had never recycled anything prior to Pinterest. After seeing so many articles on repurposing jars, and so many other things, I take a second or third look at anything prior to trashing it. : ) The painted jars and glass are beautiful, I wish I could make these but I am so busy with making jewelry and quilting and learning how to Metalsmithing. I cannot take up another hobby, but I do love to see the things other people do. I enjoy your work and your newsletters. Thanks.

    • Natashalh February 18, 2016, 20:19

      Metalsmithing is so much fun! What are you working with? Quilting seems like a whole lot of work. I can totally understand not wanting to take on more. I’m glad you enjoy my blog, though, and I appreciate your comment. It put a smile on my face. =)

  • Duni February 18, 2016, 07:49

    I’ve always loved the look of those painted shabby chic jars! You are right, chalk paint is expensive, that’s why I never tried it before 😉
    I can get latex paint but I’m not sure about the primer. Will have to ask at the hardware store.
    Pinning for later!

    • Natashalh February 18, 2016, 11:59

      Honestly, just flat white spray paint should also work, as long as it can adhere to glass. Most spray paint tells you what it can stick to, so if you can find one that works for glass you could use it instead of primer. Thanks for pinning!

  • Jules February 18, 2016, 04:05

    I was just thinking about doing something like this as table decorations for my wedding next year! Thanks!

    • Natashalh February 18, 2016, 06:36

      Making your own wedding things is such a great way to save money and make sure you get just what you want! We did almost everything for our wedding. Glad this is helpful. =)

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