Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Apothecary Jar & Cloche Tutorials

I'm going to show you how I acquired this collection of apothecary jars (AJs) for less than $20!

How to Make your Own Apothecary Jars
a tutorial

Disclaimer:  Someone, somewhere, has probably figured out how to do this already.  In fact, Martha Stewart is usually way ahead of me.  Mine may be the 80 millionth online tutorial for how to do this.  I, personally, have not come across any, so as far as I'm concerned, this idea is my own Mad Genius Moment.  

1.  As in most things, the first step of this tutorial is the hardest.....but trust me, you can handle it.  First, you need to shop your house or your local thrift shops.  You are looking for various sizes of lidded glass jars and crystal or glass candlesticks.  (If you aren't familiar with the look of an AJ, I suggest you do a quick online search.  Pottery Barn sells them, and you can find lots of other pictures online of how people are using them in their homes.  Or you can go back to here in this blog, and see some pictures and get links to other bloggers than have found fun ways to use AJs in their homes.  Or scroll down farther in this post.)  I was surprised at how many glass jars I was able to find at my local Goodwill, along with tons of candlestick holders.  You can either grab them randomly (as I did) and figure out how they work together once you get home, or you can really take a good look at the size and shape of each object and find perfect pairs while you are there at the shop.  It's totally up to you.  Here are the fruits of my randomness:
At Goodwill, I found my candlestick holders for $0.99/each, and my glass jars ranged in price from $0.99-$2.99.

I mentioned that you could shop your house, too.  You might be surprised at how many glass candy dishes you have tucked away in the recesses of your cupboards.  I was also able to find an inexpensive lidded dish on sale at Target, and a sweet candlestick holder that perfectly matched one of the jars at my local lumber store (it was only $1).

2.  Once you've acquired the separate pieces, you are ready to put them together.  Play with them to see which ones match up the best, using the candlestick holders as bases for the glass containers.  See how great these two are when paired up?
3.  Next, you need to clean up your finds.  The stickers from my local thrift shop were not easily removed, and some of my items had slashes of permanent black marker across them.  In this project, these will be key:
If you haven't met already, let me introduce you to Goo Gone.  It is good stuff.  Goo Gone and a little old-fashioned elbow grease removed the stickers, sticky residue from stickers and tape, and permanent marker that were junking up my pretty glass objects.  (Just use a rag with a spot of Goo Gone on it, and rub it over the gunk you want to remove.)  Goo Gone does leave an oily residue, so make sure that you have glass cleaner on hand to clean up the glass with, afterwards.  Also note that this oily residue can make glass very slippery.  Be careful!

Make sure you remove all stickers from your future AJs.  Particularly from the bottoms of those glass jars.  Nothing will ruin the look of your new AJ more than that sticker you forgot to remove that is now permanently stuck in between the two pieces of glass.

4.  Once the glass was all sparkly, I pulled out some more good stuff.  E-6000.  This stuff will be your new best friend by the time you finish this project.  I picked up this tube at my local lumber store for about $2.50.
Before I started this project, I did a quick online search to find out what the best thing was for gluing two pieces of glass together.  I decided this was the stuff.  E-6000 is typically used in jewelry making.  It takes 10-15 minutes to bond--giving you some time to work with placement--and dries clear.  DON'T use superglue, because it tends to dry brittle, which isn't good for a project like this.

My husband, the Bionic Man, who is incredibly knowledgeable about these things, suggested I use silicon caulk, which he had out in the garage.  I thought it might be a little difficult to control the caulk gun for the small areas I would be gluing, so I opted to spring for the E-6000.  If you have some silicone caulk you want to use up, go for it.

5.  As part of my research, I found out the E-6000 would adhere best if the surfaces I glued together weren't both as smooth as glass.  So I grabbed a piece of sandpaper
and lightly sanded the top of each candlestick holder
until that surface was scratched up a bit.  Do this over a garbage can because, after all, this is glass, and you don't want glass dust getting all over.  (Don't worry, there shouldn't actually be much dust from this.)
6.  Then, you take your tube of E-6000 and apply it to the surface of the candlestick holder on which the glass jar will rest.
7.  The final step is placing the glass jar on top of the candlestick holder.  As I mentioned, the E-6000 doesn't bond instantly, and dries clear, so you have some room and time for error.  I made some adjustments to the placement of of each of my jars before I let them rest and continue bonding.  E-6000 should be fully cured in 24 hours, don't lift your new AJs without holding onto both the jar and the base before then.  I went ahead and filled mine before 24 hours were up, assuming that the weight of the contents would help with the bonding process.  Sorry, I don't have any pictures of this step because my hands were busy with glass and glue.

Now, you can fill your AJs with something pretty!
I had a few things on hand at home (like marshmallows and seashells) that I started with.   A trip to my local wholesale floral/craft store found me some other inexpensive fillers:
fake rose petals (pictured above)
tumbled rocks
faux jewels
bird nests
Like the marshmallows I used, you can find lots of things at your grocery store that will work in your AJs, too.
fresh cranberries (I used these at Christmas, they lasted well over a month)
unwrapped candy
wrapped candy
citrus fruits
mini squash (great for fall)
Don't forget to shop your house!  The tiny figurine that sits on the pink rocks in one of my jars was just sitting, forgotten, on one of my shelves.  The ribbon and snowflake tied around my tallest jar are just leftover from Christmas (the snowflake is a tree ornament).

I should mention that I was able to find a $9 large AJ for 40% off at the wholesale floral/craft shop.  One of my glass jars came from there, too.  (Also 40% off.)  I totally lucked out on that large AJ.  It would have been hard to recreate that shape, and that particular shape worked really well with the rest of my collection.
Need more inspiration?  If you haven't seen my last post, go look at what The Nester does with AJs over at The Nesting Place.  (Look here and for lots of pretty peeks inside her AJs.)  Sarah on Clover Lane showed how her friend uses AJs here.  Come to think of it, I think it was this pic from Amorology that really got me obsessed about Ajs.
And I absolutely can't leave Pottery Barn out of the list.

See how much fun this can be?

I really have to give some blog love to Kami over at no biggie, whose Thrifty Thursday posts sent me running to Goodwill and made me think of repurposing thrifty finds.  Look what she did for Valentine's Day with her AJ:
See how smart Kami is?  This is how she avoided using many more conversation hearts than necessary.
Whew!  Have you seen enough apothecary jars for one day?  I hope you'll have fun making some of your own!  Let me show you quickly how I made a cloche in almost the same way.

How I Made a *Cloche
*I should mention that I saw something similar to this a few months ago on someone's blog.  Can't remember where.  So I can't take full credit for this one.  It was someone else's Mad Genius Moment.
1.  Found these random glass objects, each less than $1, and realized they would look great together.  I think the domed glass is from one of those hanging glass votive holders.  Very random.
2.  Woops, one of those random things was not less than $1.  It was actually $2.50.  That's the tiny dark speck you see.  It is a tiny drawer pull from my local lumber store.  How cute is that?  You'll need one of these--or something similar--to make a cloche.  I was originally looking for a glass knob, but my lumber store didn't have any that I loved.
3.  Run get that E-6000 out of the drawer again, and glue that little knob onto the top of the rounded glass thingy.  Set it on the base and--voila!--you've got a cloche.
Sadly, I have no pictures of this darling cloche with anything inside it, because I got so excited about sticking in the little red bird I found, I forgot that it takes 10-15 minutes for the E-6000 to bond, and....I had some glass to pick up.  That's right, I broke the darling cloche!  Considering my usual track record, one casualty amidst all this glass is not to bad.  But it had to be the cloche, didn't it?

Beyond The Picket Fence


  1. What great Ideas!!

    and I love that poem "Welcome to Holland". I have not been blessed with any special needs of my own but I worked with many special needs children( mainly autism) before my daughter was born.
    Blessings to you on your journey

  2. Wow!! You did a great job on these! I am going to have to look around and see what I can come up with. Those things just cost way more than I'm willing to pay!! Thanks for sharing!!

  3. What a great collection! I agree brilliant!

  4. love it! back to the DI I go... on the lookout for glass candlesticks and such. Thanks for the inspiration!! and I LOVE your blog title and the story that goes with it. you're amazing

  5. I love how unique and different each jar is and this is a very thorough tutorial--thanks for sharing and linking up!

  6. oh, I just came across your blog through Shabby Chic Cottage~ I love those jars! I have some candlesticks and vases I was saving to make these, but keep forgetting to buy the glue- I will get the same type you used... Thanks for sharing! :)

  7. That looks simple enough!!! The ones in the store are pretty expensive! going to search the house now!

    Thanks for joining my party Get your craft on Thurs. I hope you join me next week. Mr. Linky disappeared for a while tonight I thought I lost all of my guest, but it finally came back. I will not be using Mr. Linky anymore!

  8. They look terrific. I had to laugh at the can in the jar. I totally had to do that with a gift for my parents last week. I bought a huge jar and M&Ms to fill it, but I way underestimated the number of M&Ms I would need, so I shoved some spaghetti sauce in there to help displace them. It works wonders! Thanks for linking!

    Poppies at Play

  9. These are fabulous! I love the cloche - Thanks for sharing - you did a great job on these!

  10. I love how you can change them according to the season. I don't have any AJs but your post has inspired me to take a trip to my thrift store tomorrow.

    Thanks so much for linking up to my "Make It Yours" linky party! I look forward to seeing more of your great posts!

  11. That's a great idea on the cloche to use a knob. Love it, and I wouldn't have realized I could make my own AJs too. :)

  12. This was an amazing post! You have totally inspired me :) I am thrilled to have found your blog and look forward to more of your future posts because I am now a follower!

  13. I LOOOOVE everything about these jars! They are so functional and pretty! Thrift stores have had a lot lately and I'm lovin it. We had a bunch of glass candy jars at our wedding and I have hung on to them for sugar, flour etc. Love it!

  14. You've done an amazing job with your tutorials...I enjoyed them...and I want to try making an apothecary jar...

  15. All I can say is you are Brilliant! Going to find your follow button now.

  16. I have an obsession with these jars, but not to budget to support my I do this all the time with thrift store finds. LOVE your ideas!!!

  17. What a nice collection...and great idea! Thanks for sharing.

  18. What wonderful ideas and tips! Thanks for sharing your wonderful creativity with us.

  19. Just wanted to say THANK YOU! THANK YOU
    THANK YOU! I love Apothecary Jars! to cheap to spend the $$$ though. I went thrifting this morning - spent six dollars have two AJs and various spare parts for more.


  20. I really like this. I ended up buying my jars used off Craigslist for my wedding candy buffet, but this would have been an awesome alternative!

  21. This is such a lovely idea! I'm going to have to try it!

  22. Loved your post and all the ideas. I have been experimenting with glass to glass items as well. You have inspired me to branch out even further. Thanks for sharing.