Painting Mason Jars

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At one time, Mason jars came in a range of colors, including blue, green, amber and milky white. Today, the jars are only produced in clear glass, and antique, colored Mason jars are highly valued as collectibles. Learning how to paint mason jars is an easy and inexpensive way to recreate the vintage glasses whimsical look around your home.

  • Regardless of painting technique, you are unlikely to achieve a flawlessly smooth coat, so don’t expect perfection.
  • Painted jars usually have more of an aged, distressed look, though by being very careful as you paint, you can create a clean, newer look.
  • Most paint will not last permanently on glass, but will eventually chip or wash off, so treat your painted jars gently if you want the color to stick around, and keep them away from water.

If you want to use your Mason jar for serving beverages or food, displaying cut flowers, or holding lit candles, you should only paint the outside of the glass. If you just want to enjoy the vintage look of the colored glass, you can tint or paint the inside of the jar.

How To Paint The Inside Of A Mason Jar

This technique allows you to make a “milk glass” finish, where the paint color clearly shows through the glass, but is given a distinctly shiny appearance because it is viewed through the layer of glass, rather than applied on top of it. You will need latex craft paint, which can be found at any paint store, along with a drop cloth or large piece of cardboard. You can use any color, though blue, green, soft pinks or creamy white will give a more vintage appearance.

  • Start with a clean, dry jar.
  • Squirt enough paint into the bottom of the jar to fill it around ½ inch.
  • Hold the jar at an angle, with the mouth pointing downwards, and slowly rotate the jar so that the paint evenly covers the entire inside surface.
  • You will need to point the jar almost completely down to get even coverage up to the lip, so hold the jar over your drop cloth or cardboard.
  • When the whole inside is covered, hold the jar to let excess paint run out, then set it upside down on your drop cloth.
  • Move the jar every 15 minutes or so to keep paint from coagulating on the jar edge.
  • After an hour or two, you can turn the jar upright, and let it continue to dry for several hours.

How To Tint A Mason Jar

If you prefer a translucent look, beautiful for displaying in a sunny window, you will follow the same technique, but with a thin wash of paint. You may need to play with your mixture to achieve just the right color, but start with:

  • 1 teaspoon of glossy Mod Podge
  • 1-2 teaspoons of water
  • 2-4 drops of food coloring, depending on your desired color

Once you have your desired tint, pour it into the Mason jar, and follow the technique given above to color the inside of the glass.


How To Paint The Outside Of A Mason Jar

If you want to use your jar to hold liquids, paint the outside of the jar. Start with clean, dry jars, and have a drop cloth or large square of cardboard ready to catch the drips.

For an opaque finish, you can brush on latex paint. You can also use spray paint meant for slick surfaces such as metal, glass or plastic.

  • Stand the jar upside down on your drop cloth.
  • Build up the coverage slowly, in even, thin coats. For the smoothest finish, load your brush with paint, then make one stroke down from the base to the lip of the jar.
  • Let the paint dry, then repeat coats until you achieve your desired coverage.
  • You can leave the bottom of the jar bare, or paint it if desired.
  • Let the jar sit until completely dry, usually a few hours.
  • Remember that the paint will chip and scratch very easily, so be careful with the jars.

How To Create A Vintage Mason Jar

If you desire a translucent look, mix:

  • 1 teaspoon of glossy Mod Podge
  • 1-2 teaspoons of water
  • 2-4 drops of food coloring, depending on your desired color

then set your jar on the drop cloth, upside down.

  • Use one even stroke from the base to the lip of the jar, and don’t go back over an area you have already painted. Your brush should not be overly loaded with paint, or you will get drips. However, if the brush is too dry, you will have streaks. It might take a bit of practice to get the balance just right.
  • Space your paint strokes so that there is a minimum of overlapping.
  • The paint will look opaque when wet, but will become more transparent as it dries.
  • Let your jar dry for several hours. The finished effect will be translucent, with a vintage appearance.

It might take some practice to get your painted jars to turn out just the way you want, but if you aren’t happy with the results, you can easily scrub the paint away and try again. Once you have several painted Mason jars you love, set them in the window to catch the light, use them as floral vases, or set an electric tealight inside and enjoy the romantic glow.

Last Updated: August 12, 2012
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About Michelle Ullman Michelle Ullman has lived and gardened in Southern California since childhood. A freelance writer, she covers topics ranging from gardening to home improvement to health issues. She also has experience as a catalog copywriter and poet. Michelle has trained and worked as a respiratory therapist and surgical technologist, but prefers to spend her time gardening, and walking with her dog. Michelle holds a Bachelor's Degree from Redlands University in Business Management. 

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