Houseware Crafts, Tips and Resources, Tutorials

Lets Spice Things Up

my kitchen goes from tragic to retroMy Kitchen Tour post got some very nice attention and I got a few questions about those spice jars and canisters so I thought I’d get into some more details.Ikea Kitchen Cannisters go Retro

You may (or may not – I really wouldn’t blame you) recall that the large canisters are inexpensive Ikea purchases.  It was a simple matter of  spray painting the lids and creating the labels in MS Word.

I had shared the printable download for the labels previously and you can find it here if you’re so inclined.

The glass spice jars are from Griffith Laboratories and were made around 1939.  The company made the jars as a kind of advertising gimmick but they became very popular.  They were sold with various holders (wood and plastic) and the lids came in various colors to suit the current styles.The first jars had a baked on graphic for the label and in the following years the company switched to paper labels.

I had purchased a set with the baked on labels years ago but it’s pretty limiting as there were only, I think, 12 options.  My retro love does not extend to Celery Salt and it got really confusing to remember “oh the Celery Salt jar actually has cinnamon and the Dill Weed is really Cumin.”  Numerous, extremely unfortunate baking incidents occurred.  But the kitchen looked cool!

So when I stumbled across a set that had lost their paper labels I….went a little crazy.  It became one of those quests.  My family digs quests so everyone was looking for them wherever they went.  It was fairly affordable because the ones lacking their labels were cheaper and I didn’t care about the lid color.  Eventually I ended up with more than enough.

I cleaned and sanded the lids and then primed and painted them with a gloss red spray paint (sorry, no pics –this was quite a while ago).Griffith Spice Jar Set with DIY labels

I then recreated the label design by scanning one of my old-school jars and then erasing the spice name and inserting my own.

If you want to do the same just download this label sheet and then upload it into MSWORD.Free Label Download You can then use a Text Box (click on the pic for a larger, clearer screen shot)Format the Text Box to have no Fill Color and No Line

Then type in your desired spice name and drag the text box to center it on your label.

You may have to resize your text a bit and futz with the kerning but it’s pretty simple.  I used an Ariel Font but if you want to match exaclty play around with some of the free fonts at DaFont -I’m fond of Sugo myself.

Print a test sheet to make sure the size works for your jars and then print a final version out onto decal paper and cut them out.

And now I must go outside (it’s beautiful!) and cut HOME signs.


33 thoughts on “Lets Spice Things Up”

  1. Of course these are awesome (as usual)…but my burning question is what kind of stove is that? Is it dual oven/dual fuel? And if so, how do you like it?

  2. Of course these are awesome. But my burning questoin is: what kind of stove is that? Is it dual oven/dual fuel? Do you like it?? I need a new stove and want one like that!

    1. Hey,
      It’s a Maytag Gemeni and I’m quite pleased with it. It has two separate gas ovens that heat independently. It’s terrific if you’re trying to make multiple things. I have only two complaints about it. The knobs for the burners aren’t logically arranged to me – I keep turning on the wrong one. And for some reason the upper (smaller) oven heats more slowly that the bottom (larger) oven. But those are minor quibbles – overall I think it’s great.

  3. This could not have come at a better time since I just scored 11 (I know, maybe number 12 broke) of these fabulous bottles at a yard sale. They have the paper labels – but many are peeling and your labels are fabulous!

    The best part (sense my sarcasm?) – the 70 year old spices were still in them.

    And the lady of the house was very inventive – she actually made little typed labels and pasted them over the useless spices (like celery salt)!

    Some of my labels have the attached perforated sifter in them – and I can’t get them out! Any ideas?

    1. Kelly, Soaking overnight in hot water might loosen the labels enough to get the sifters out. If you are willing to risk possible problems to the sifters, you could carefull try nail polish remover and soaking them in a shallow bath if it.

      1. David, Love the fact that you were willing to clean, sand, prime and paint the lids of the vintage spice bottles so that they matched your kitchen decor. Few people would take that much care and trouble. That’s why your kitchen looks so wonderful.

      2. Actually, in truth, the kitchen matches the spice jars.

        I did these years and years ago when I lived in NYC and chose red just cause a few of them were a dull red to begin with.

        When it came time to redo the kitchen out here in LA they were the thing that lead all the other choices. Anything that limits my color choices is good or I will fail to make decisions and it will look like a color wheel threw up.


  4. Oh my livin’ heck. I am SO IN LOVE with this kitchen!!! I may or may not be pinning it to my “Dream Kitchens” Pinterest board…
    PS. I’m your newest subscriber. Love the blog!

  5. I, too, got all the old spices in the jars. I am thinking seriously thinking about dumping them and refilling them with fresh ones. What is recommended?

    1. Hmmmmm…I guess it depends on what you cook. I had a lot of jars so I did pretty much everything I could think of. But the ones I use most (though clearly not in the same meal) are cinnamon, garlic powder, basil, chili powder, paprika, nutmeg.

  6. Thank you, thank you for the Griffith’s label scan. My newly-arrived set came with paper labels overlaid with shiny 70’s labels – desperately needing the update to things I actually use (I’m willing carry the vintage only so far).

  7. Thank you for sharing the labels and “how to” advice. I am off to the craft store for paint for the lids of my newly acquired Griffith jars and to track down decal paper..

  8. I just found my first set of these spice jars and red rack today. They are beautiful! The only thing I don’t love are the lids. Someone has put old Powerade lids on them. The antique “dealer” informed me the lids were not original to the jars. (No kidding!)

    I need some replacement lids. I would prefer black, red or silver. Any clue on where I can find them?

    1. Hmmmm…. that’s a tough one. I don’t know of a resource for the lids alone. I read online that the McCormick spice jar lids (the ones for the glass jars) will fit Griffith Jar lids – they’d just need to be painted. The downside is that they are plastic. Good luck. And if I hear about or stumble across a source I’ll let you know.

  9. Thank you so much for this awesome template! I’m so excited to fix up my set of spice jars. What kind of decal paper did you use exactly? I’ve printed these on different types but so far the ink rubs off or the paper soaks the black color up too much.

    1. Hey Amber. Sorry to hear of your difficulties. I just used one of Avery’s clear (mailing) label papers as I recall (it was a while ago).
      I have a laser printer – is that, perhaps, the difference? Are you using an ink-jet?

  10. I am really into the Griffith Spice Jars and have redone several sets as gifts and sold a couple. May favorite is the ‘classic red’ of course, BUT my home is like yours, except, everything is COBALT BLUE and white. I welcome your labels as I may increase my set of blues from the 12 to a larger collection like yours. Awesome kitchen by the way…love your kitchen.

  11. I just finished updated my set that came with a plastic red base. I used Rustoleum paint on the lids, and they came out amazing! I am having trouble finding a food-safe finish for the inside of the lids (mine are rusty!), what did you use?
    Amazing project – loving the end result!

    1. Hi Julie! So glad you like how yours are coming out. I didn’t have much of a rust problem on mine so I don’t have a definitive answer (and a little web research didn’t turn up much either). My only thought might be that Mod Podge is “non toxic” but hasn’t gone through the lengthy FDA process for determining if it’s food safe. Since the spices don’t come in direct contact with the lids might you try just a couple of clear coats of Mod Podge – just to seal in the rust?

      1. I de-rusted mechanically — used a sander on the outside, a smaller Dremel on the inside. If you get down to bare metal, you should be good to go. Covering the corrosion should stop the process (it needs oxygen) but you might not get good adhesion to the surface.

      2. I too sand when needed and use RustOleum paint. I cut circles out of white waxed paper (freezer paper works well) and non-toxic glue to glue many layers thick and adhere to interior of caps. Gives it the clean original look and added protection from contents in touch with metal caps.

      3. Thanks all for your advice! I went with rustoleum inside, then a layer of Mod Podge.
        LOVE how they look!

  12. Hi, I know this is a very old post but I’m wondering if you could share the label document again. This doesn’t seem to be working. Thank you so much in advance!

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