Dying Glass Jars

This tutorial was originally published in July 2011 on my old blog.

I recently (via pinterest) stumbled across this beautiful how to from Craftberry Bush: Mason Blue Glass Canning Jar DIY.

I absolutely love the look – I was admiring some tinted glass mason jars at an antique show recently but they were a bit out of my price range – so of course I was interested in learning how to make my own!

However, as she notes in the article, this method isn’t permanent, so I thought I’d try using alcohol inks and see if I could get a similar effect that would be more water resistant.

dyed glass bottles

dyed glass bottles

I definitely got the look I was going for – using a green/brown ink color called Lake Mist gave me the warm toned jar, and Sail Boat Blue worked for the blue one.

blue jar

blue jar

The process is really easy. I didn’t come up with it on my own – it’s inspired by an ornament tutorial video I remember watching last holiday season where Tim Holtz demonstrates a similar technique for the inside of glass ornaments.

I put several drops of alcohol ink inside the jar, added some of the alcohol blending solution to thin it and ensure it didn’t dry too quickly, and basically swirled it around until I had pretty even coverage on the inside of my jars.

brown jar

brown jar

On the blue jar, I ended up with a little too much ink/blending solution, so I stood the jar upside down on a folded up paper towel and let the excess go onto the paper. Alcohol ink is pretty much permanent on porous surfaces {like my wood table where I craft} so you definitely want any drips to onto scrap paper or something else that won’t be damaged.

On non-porous surfaces, rubbing alcohol on a rag or cotton ball takes the ink off instantly, so if you spill on glass or plastic, clean-up is easy. This trick works for Sharpies too. You’re welcome :)

But back to my jar dying how to…

the two jars

the two jars

This is the really important part: let the ink dry completely. It doesn’t take long, but if you test it with your finger or a paper towel or by filling it with water before it’s dry, it messes up the finish.

Once the ink is completely dry, you can rinse the jars in warm soapy water without the finish coming off — however, if you scrub the inside, then the ink will come off. So it isn’t permanent. I don’t know how it will wear over time since I just made them, but I imagine if you use them the color will wear off gradually.

So…I didn’t succeed in coming up with a permanent way to dye jars, but I did find a different way to get the look I was inspired by.

Thanks Craftberry Bush for the tutorial that inspired me to come up with my version! If you haven’t seen that blog before, go now, it’s beautiful and she posts lots of craft tutorials and eye candy.

2012 notes: still love the little jars I dyed using this method. You do have to be careful what you put in them if you want the color to be permanent, but they’ve held up pretty well – and it would be so easy to make a few more if too much of the color wears off. I’ve been using alcohol inks for other projects with glass, plastic, and metal and figured out that for certain applications, adding a varnish or other topcoat helps the finish to not get scratched off over time – so you could try something like a spray varnish inside your jars if you are concerned about that. I bet there are good waterproof spray varnishes that would work if you want to use your dyed jars as flower vases. I wouldn’t use it for food though!

Update, April 2012: Saw this tutorial that uses glass paint to permanently tint jars. I’ve never used glass paint, but it seems like a good option if you want to use your colored glass as a vase.

Update, October 2012: I used my blue jar as a vase, with water in it and everything. I was careful to remove the flowers as soon as they started showing signs of decay, then quickly poured out the water and rinsed the jar. No damage to the blue tint! So it looks like you can put water in jars dyed with alcohol ink without removing the tint, as long as you don’t end up having to scrub to clean them.

Also, I added shopping links {within the text of this post} for the inks I used in this project – as with all my posts that include shopping links, if you make a purchase you are helping to support my blog, and I thank you.

Glass isn’t the only material I like to color – I used food coloring and rubbing alcohol to dye macaroni beads {which works great on pasta, but not as well as commercial alcohol ink on glass jars}, and I’ve written a bunch of posts about the various ways I’ve colored metal.