How to Write on Glass Jars

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Reuse glass jars for storage, writing the contents on the outside.
Reuse glass jars for storage, writing the contents on the outside. (Image: Hue/amanaimagesRF/amana images/Getty Images)

Not just any type of ink or marker will do when it comes to writing on glass -- some inks may not adhere at all, while others may evaporate, leaving spotty color behind. Specialty markers and paint pens designed for use on glass ensure the writing stays on as intended. If you prefer temporary writing solutions, specialty options allow for that as well. Trace your design by copying a paper version of it taped inside the glass to ensure the design comes out as intended.

Things You'll Need

  • White vinegar
  • Soft, lint-free cloth
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Computer with printer (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Masking tape
  • Glass marker or paint pen
  • Paper towels

Pour a little white vinegar onto a soft lint-free cloth. Wipe the outside of a clean glass jar with the vinegar to remove greasy residues that may hinder paint or ink. Allow the jar to dry completely.

Write out the letters or words you wish to include on the jar using a pencil and paper, writing them in the exact style and size needed for the project. If this proves difficult, create the lettering in a writing program or copy it from a clipart website and print it on paper in the desired size.

Trim the paper around the letters or writing so the design fits inside the jar. Position the paper so the design faces out and is aligned where you would like to write on the glass. Tape the paper to the inside of the glass using painter's tape so it stays put as you copy it through the glass. Painter's tape peels away more easily than many other types of tape for temporary usage.

Shake the glass marker or paint pen, if the manufacturer's instructions indicate to do so. Instructions may vary based on brand. Write on the jar as if tracing the paper lettering through the glass. Place the jar on its side and hold it down with your other hand if this offers better control for your writing style while writing on a curved surface.

Keep your hands away from the freshly inked areas as you create additional details or letters. If creating a design all the way around the jar, allow the wet ink or paint to dry in one area before moving onto the opposite side to prevent smearing. Touching the wet ink or rolling it on the work surface may cause it to smear.

Tips & Warnings

  • To write on the jar with chalk, coat part of the jar or the entire outside of it with chalkboard paint, allowing the paint to dry completely. A special chalkboard paint dries clear, so you won't even notice it's there after it dries.
  • Cover the work surface with newspaper if you plan to roll the jar on its side, in case the ink or paint is wet when it touches the work surface.
  • For best results, write on smooth glass jars. Textured jars may cause the pen or marker to jump, altering your design.
  • For temporary writing on glass, use pens or markers designed for window glass, or the crayon-style waxy pencils designed to wipe off with a wet cloth.
  • Limit the writing to the outside of the jar if you plan to use the jar to hold foods, beverages or candles. Do not write on the lip of the jar if storing edible materials in the jar.

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