DIY And Tutorial Month – Re-purposed Jelly Jar

Contributor post by Alicia from AliciasFindings

“Re-purposed Jelly Jar” by Lisa from sparkklejar



In celebration of the do-it-yourself month of March, I am giving a DIY tutorial on how to repurpose the lid of a vintage jelly jar. These jars are often found at thrift stores, estate sales, flea markets or in Grandma’s attic. Jars with nicks around the top and lids that are creased or a little rusty can easily be repurposed. These jelly jars were made by Kerr, Ball, Hazel Atlas, Presto and many other glass companies. The technique used in this tutorial can be used on anything with a metal embossed lid, such as a zinc mason jar cap, old cold cream bottle or antique snuff glass. This DIY features a post 1940 Kerr jar with a shiny un-coated metal embossed lid. The shinier the lid, the harder it is to distress the embossing. The following will teach technique and tricks for successfully repurposing metal jelly jar lids using acrylic paint, sealer, water slide decal images, and glitter. Most of the pictures show the lid painted a darker color than i recommend, but the green photographed nicely, showing the step by step process. Please read the entire tutorial before starting your project.

Materials Used

  • Vintage jelly jar with an un-coated embossed metal lid
  • Acrylic craft paint in a light color
  • Water slide decal
  • Medium grain sandpaper
  • Water base liquid gloss polyurethane
  • Soft synthetic nylon paint brushes
  • Glitter paint or fine grain glitter
  • Scissors
  • Soft cloth like an old t-shirt
  • Optional blow dryer with low setting.


Tutorial Directions

Metal vintage jelly jar lids sometimes come with issues. It is common to find a label or canning wax stuck on them. Boiling water removes wax and rubbing alcohol removes labels and stickers. If your lid has big patches of rust, you might want to sand the rusty areas as flat as you can. Make sure the lid is as clean as you can get it.



Using acrylic tole paint, such as Americana, Delta, or Apple Barrel, in a light shade, take a little on your brush and sweep the sides of the lid so it’s shabby painted.

After the sides are dry,( I use a blow dryer on coolest setting to speed the paint drying process along) paint the top of the lid with several thin layers, the paint needs to be completely dry between coats.

Make sure the paint has gotten between all the embossed letters on your first coat. Brush strokes should be side to side. Several thin layers are better than a few thick layers. Soft nylon or synthetic brushes are preferred over natural fiber brushes. Natural fiber brushes shed their bristles and become stuck in the paint. I always use name brand paints as i find store brands too watery for painting on metal.




The green you see used in this tutorial is an Americana stock color called “Sweet Mint”. Most colors darken a shade once the polyurethane is applied, keep that in mind when choosing a color. “Sweet Mint” darkens to a shade of mint julep and is an example of the darkest hue I recommend using for this project.

Let your lid air dry a full 48 hours, this is very important. After the lid has dried, put medium grain sandpaper over a fluffy towel and run the lid back and forth over it in the same side to side direction as your brush strokes. This gets the sanding process started and you should see some of the letters start to lose their paint.


Taking a smaller piece of the sandpaper, gently start sanding over the letters using your fingers, back and forth keeping with the side to side grain you painted in. This will take a while, you may want to wear a mask as this produces a fine paint dust. Once your letters have been sanded down to bare metal, sand the top edges of the lid and anywhere else you want to look shabby and worn. Do a quick paint touch-up of any area you may have accidentally sanded and let dry.


Seal the sides and top with a thin coat of brush on liquid polyurethane. I use Americana Dura Clear gloss varnish. This varnish is non-yellowing and water base. I blow dry this fast drying polyurethane until it’s not tacky, but it still needs to sit for at least 8 hours before you apply the decal. *depending on the humidity, your polyurethane coat may cause a few tiny bubbles in the paint. You can rub these bubbles flat (or almost flat) with an old t-shirt or some other smooth and soft cloth after the polyurethane is dry to touch.

Water slide decals are for non-fired projects and are not the same as ceramic decals. You can order many images on-line already made, or you can get the decal paper and print and seal your own.

Cut your decal image out using sharp scissors. Since decals are transparent, cutting close to the image is fine, rather than trying to cut out every little detail. The transparency of the decal image is why a light paint background is necessary. After deciding where to place your image on the lid, dip the decal according to the manufacturer’s directions in water. When your decal is ready, slide it off of it’s backing onto the lid. Smooth it flat with your cloth, removing any bubbles. Make sure you have dried any standing water from applying your decal. Do not blow dry, let your decal set overnight.


When I apply glitter to these lids, I just put it on the decal area. You can choose where it goes, or to not use any at all. There are two types of glitter techniques i use. I like the Deco Art Twinkles, which is a clear acrylic glitter paint, or I use fine grain glitter and mix it with a little polyurethane (work quickly, this dries fast). Dab the glitter paint onto the desired area with your fingertip. Sometimes your glitter paint gets a little sticky and may pull an edge of the decal up, no worries, just tack it back with a little polyurethane. Less is more, thick glitter tends to mute out details in the decal image. I have chosen to use both dark green and rose pink for this lid.



Let dry about an hour or two, do not blow dry (decals do not like blow dryers) and brush on a final coat of polyurethane, after this is dry take old scissors and scrape any paint off the inside sides that may have settled there, otherwise your lid may not fit or get stuck on your jar. You have just completed your shabby cottage chic jelly jar!


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