Organize Your Home with DIY Etched and Painted Jars

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Getting organized is one of those things that seems to be on everyone’s to-do list. Whether you’re in the process of purging unused items or finding more functional solutions for those everyday items you use the most, organization takes a certain level of patience and persistence. To make it easier on myself, I transformed a pair of budget-friendly IKEA jars using etching cream, with the goal of creating a numbered system that would work for my on-the-go lifestyle.

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Things You’ll Need

    • Painter’s tape
    • Stencil (download printable versions)
    • Pen
    • X-Acto knife
    • Industrial paper towels
    • Glass cleaner (optional)
    • Glass etching cream
    • Safety glasses
    • Rubber gloves
    • Foam paintbrushes, 2
    • Oil-based paint marker
    • Spray paint
    • Scrap cardboard

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Begin by adding lengths of painter’s tape to the sides of your glass jars. Press the tape down firmly with your fingertips.

Next, use stencils and a pen to mark out your shapes for etching. I chose a simple numbered system—a “1” and “2.” If you don’t happen to have stencils on hand, click these links to download my letters stencil printable or my numbers stencil printable, which can be printed onto card stock and cut for use on your jars.

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With your shapes now outlined in pen, use a razor blade or an X-Acto knife to carefully and slowly cut them out from the painter’s tape.

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Discard the tape and then wipe away any tape residue or fingerprints from the glass using an industrial paper towel — you also can use window cleaner if necessary, but be careful not to let the cleaner touch the tape, as it could loosen the bond at the edges.

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When it comes to working with etching cream, safety is of the utmost importance. This acidic material is very strong and can cause serious harm if used improperly. Always wear safety glasses in case of splashes, and also protect your hands by wearing rubber gloves. Be extra careful not to allow the cream to touch your skin, because it can cause burns. Although it seems intimidating, when handled with care, this crafting material is a useful, effective tool to have on hand.

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With your safety gear on, shake the sealed bottle of etching cream and then open the top. Dip a foam paintbrush into the cream and then dab it on top of the taped-off shape on the glass jar. You’ll want to cover the entire shape with the cream, continuing to add layers immediately, one after the other, until you can’t see the shape beneath. You can clean the brush to reuse it in the future, but I decided to err on the side of caution and dropped my used foam brush in a double-bagged trash bag and discarded it.

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Wait five to 10 minutes (or follow the specific time suggested by your particular etching cream manufacturer) and, with your gloves and glasses still on, run the glass under the water in your sink. Don’t run the tap so hard that you cause unnecessary splashing, as this, too, could cause burns. Use a clean foam brush to wipe away any residual cream while the water is still running over the glass, and then remove the tape and dispose of it safely. Wipe the jar down with glass cleaner and another industrial paper towel.

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To make my etched stenciled numbers really pop, I used an oil-based paint marker to outline the shape. I also transformed the bland silver caps that came with my glass jars by hitting them with two coats of bright pink spray paint. After letting the paint from the pen and the spray paint can dry overnight, I was ready to fill the jars.

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They are well-suited for kitchen goodies. Whether you use the jars to house your favorite crackers and nuts or pasta and rice, you can’t go wrong. It’s the perfect way to portion out servings for your family each week and also allows you to show off your prettier ingredients by keeping them out right there on the counter.

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Another organization solution? Fill the jars with your go-to crafting materials! Get your kids involved by letting them choose what goes into each jar — you could even assign one number to each child and encourage the kids to get creative and show off their favorite medium. Think of the possibilities!

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Carrie Waller is the writer, designer and stylist behind the blog Dream Green DIY. Photos courtesy of Carrie Waller.

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