Mason jars are a great container for all kinds of decorations, whether its live flowers, spare change or just pens and pencils, but they can look oddly plain if they’re not painted. Unfortunately, painting over glass isn’t something that most people are used to and knowing how to paint mason jars can open you up to a lot of interesting DIY creations and creative ideas.
We at Best of Machinery have created this quick guide as a way to get you started on your path to producing beautiful jar-based artwork and displays!
Choosing Paint that Sticks to the Glass
The first problem you’ll likely face is also the most annoying – not all kinds of paint stick to glass well, and not all paints that stick will stay there for very long. Some might even cause damage to the glass, which could lead to miscolored spots and hard-to-remove bumps if you try to paint over it again. Ideally, you’ll want to use either enamel or acrylic paints, but make sure that they’re designed to work on glass properly, since not every brand or mixture will work properly.
You should also think about the color and transparency of the paint. If the paint itself is somewhat transparent, you’ll still be able to see through the glass. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’ll affect how your design looks, so make sure you have a general idea of how you want it to look before you commit to a certain style of paint.
Preparing the Mason Jars
Before you actually start painting the mason jar, make sure it’s clean and dry so that the paint can develop a nice, smooth finish. Even something as small as a speck of dirt can affect the way the finalized mason jar looks, especially if you’re using a single thin layer of paint that shows off bumps and angles better, so it’s important to keep it as clean as possible before you even start putting your brush onto it.
Water can be even more of a problem, especially if you’re going to paint the inside of the mason jar too – it can make the paint look splotchy or cause slight discoloration in some areas, and might even stop the paint from settling properly, leaving you with some spaces where the paint simply hasn’t been applied. Regardless of how it’ll affect the paint, you should still make sure it’s emptied out and dried before doing anything with it – there’s no preferred way to dry it, so even a simple cloth or sponge will do.
As with any kind of decoration, it’s best to paint your mason jars on a covered surface to avoid splashes and drips.
Painting the Mason Jars
The way you paint mason jars generally comes down to the tool you’re using: most people will be using standard DIY paintbrushes, but spray cans and paint guns are also an option, as well as smaller pen-sized brushes.
For normal brushes, you won’t need to do anything special – just start painting your mason jar like you would any other kind of surface. It’s still important to aim for consistent smoothness and thickness on all sides, so don’t use a full brush of paint each time – try to dip it into the can instead, so you’re putting down thinner layers with fewer clumps and drips.
Spray cans are a great tool for painting smaller objects, but you’ll need to make sure that you’re not resting it against a bare surface since the spray will be much harder to control than a direct application with a brush.
The smaller your brush, the longer it’ll take, but the more accurate you’ll be when covering up missed spots. If you’re using a smaller brush, try to do a basic coat as fast as possible, then cover up the mistakes afterward, since this will save you a lot of time and let you correct mistakes without needing to do an entire second coat.
Drying the Mason Jars
There are no special tricks to drying out the mason jars once their painted, but it’ll be slightly more fiddly than drying out a normal, solid object – the fact that they’re open in the middle means that the paint won’t necessarily dry at the same rate both inside and outside so you might end up accidentally using it in a display when it’s still half-wet. This is especially true if you leave it to dry in a colder, darker area since it won’t have any natural heat or light speeding up the process.
For maximum drying speed, leave the mason jar on a windowsill or some other surface in direct sunlight. This’ll make sure that one side dries incredibly fast, but the others will still be wet. As soon as it’s dry enough to touch, try to balance it on something so the open hole faces the window, allowing light to get inside and dry the spots that would normally be completely hidden.
However, if you’re not worried about having it ready to use as soon as possible, it’s best to simply leave the mason jar alone and let it dry – this will guarantee a consistent color and coverage, both of which can be important in the context of a display or DIY design, as long as nothing else get in its way or bumps into it. If possible, make sure that you’ve placed it somewhere out of reach of pets and children, preferably in a spot where it won’t be accidentally grabbed or knocked by anybody who’s trying to get on with their day-to-day routine.