northstory + co.

How to spray paint glass and not get angry

I wish I was one of those bloggers that could just give you a simple tutorial without any additional tales from nightmares behind the process of doing the craft. You know, write a “Here’s a great technique to help you spray paint a jar. Steps 1, 2, 3 – Easy Peasy!” blog post. It’s so simple to spray paint glass and not get angry. At all.

Lies. It’s all lies.


What most bloggers don’t tell you is that behind a lot of the crafts and DIY projects they show, are about 10 attempts of trial and error. This leads to mishaps such as burnt skin courtesy of their glue gun, and a lot of cursing before things go well and a craft technique is mastered.

This is often the case with what really happens when you try and paint glass. In this case a jar.

Not a mason jar. Are we done with the mason jars yet?

About painting those Mason Jars…

I’ve seen the tutorials on how to coat the inside of the mason jar with paint. This involves a delicate rolling around of paint, sometimes mixed with Mod Podge or glue, depending on if it’s paint or food coloring to tint the jar.

What bloggers often don’t show you is all the streaks that can appear inside the jar, if you coat one side with too much paint. If the paint dries wrong, you get unevenly dried paint and dripping lines.

On the amazing chance that you get everyone of your jars done perfectly, then continue on with your easy peasy self.

But painting the outside of a glass jar vs the inside is a different story.

Especially with spray paint.

Now my husband is a far better painter than I am. He’s the one who has taught me how to slow the hell down, and properly paint glass.

When I first started I would do the typical thing. Attack the glass with the spray paint and then lose my mind when I saw paint dripping down the side ruining the projects.

And trust me I have ruined a lot of stuff with my impatience.

In order to move the blog crafting world away from mason jars to other jars – say pickle jar in this case, I am going to share with you how I did this project, just in case you’re struggling with spray painting glass.


  • A jar of your choice. I use a lot of pickle jars because they have no writing on them
  • Spray paint of your choice. I do NOT recommend a gloss because the glossy finish can streak. 
  • Alphabet stickers
  • X-acto knife

I wanted to create a jar that had writing on it that I could essentially use as a lantern with a battery operated candle inside it. I am testing out stuff for my daughter’s camping themed birthday party coming up at the end of this month.

Side note: yes that is a Coldplay song on it – A Sky Full of Stars. I love Coldplay. My husband makes fun of me for this. Yes I did chicken out from meeting them in real life one time at MuchMusic.  My dear friend Kathryn, I know we chatted about the whole Chris Martin flower in the guitar thing in the corresponding music video. This craft is for you.

This is how you should spray paint the outside of a glass jar, so you do not get angry.


Get some stickers and your jar. Clean the jar very well. Let it dry.

These fancy stickers cost $2 at Walmart. Put the stickers in the phrase that you want onto your jar.


Go to your painting space. Our garage in my case.  Shake your spray paint can. Shake it for about 1 min.


The first spray from your spray paint can should be at a piece of cardboard or something you can afford to ruin. Get the first couple of sprays out to ensure there is no splatter or messed up nozzle or anything.


Once you are sure your spray paint is coming out smoothly, step BACK from the jar approximately 12″ (1 foot). Cans usually suggest 10″ to 16″.

I’ll bet over half the people that use them, do not pay attention to this rule. I know, I used to be one of them. That’s where my anger came into play.


Moving your spray paint can back and forth lightly mist your jar with paint. Think of it like the first sheer coat of nail polish. Don’t go coating it with a huge amount of paint or drips and uneven globs of paint will happen.



After the jar is misted, walk the hell away, and let it dry for about 10-15 mins. Come back, repeat step misting steps. Do as many layers as you need to ensure an opaque coating.

See? Now you’re spray painting glass and you’re not angry because there are no streaks and it’s all showing up evenly on your surface.

Doing this will decrease the chances of your jar getting covered unevenly and be consumed with paint drips.

It takes a little longer, but it really helps.


Using an Xacto knife, go around the edges of the stickers to remove them. Don’t go peeling them off with your fingers, as you risk peeling off the paint outside the letters. I’ve read that people should take them off while they’re still wet but I have never been able to do that successfully without ruining the overall paint job. So this is what I do now.

If you have any excess sticky residue, scrub it off with your X-acto knife or use a pencil eraser to get most of it off. Then wipe it all clean with a dry cloth.

I also spray painted the inside of this jar with white paint to create the contrasting letters. So that at night when my flameless candle is in it, it will highlight them.


Paint and fire in a small confined space together, not the best combo ever. Are we understood?

Alright then.


Revel in your Sky Full of Stars. Which is going in our home office.

Wide angle.

I’m kidding. I had to. Because there’s also another rule about blogging that one must show as many photos as humanely possible of a project.

Was this easy peasy?

I don’t know. Depends on if you’re a patient person. I am not. But if you are, then yes it is.

Does it work? Definitely. Especially if you want full coverage spray paint, and even crisp lines from your stencils on your glass. But at least now you can spray paint glass on the outside of the jar efficiently and not be upset.

Maybe I should have saved this for Halloween.

Oh like I won’t make another pickle jar craft by then. Anyone got a contact for Vlasic?

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  • Reply
    Kali // 204 Park
    August 7, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    “walk the hell away”… bahahaha. This post was hilarious. Thanks for the info and the chuckles.

    Love it, are we understood? Alright then.

    xoxoxo stop by to visit,


    • Reply
      August 9, 2014 at 2:51 pm

      Kali, you need to come and organize my daughter’s jewelry. I read your Baubles and Bling post and we need those trays. A LOT of them. Great advice!

  • Reply
    August 7, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    I love your snark! 😀
    And, keen craft; I definitely will do this.
    Note: I’m sick of easy peasy too. Amongst numerous other things.

    • Reply
      August 9, 2014 at 2:53 pm

      There are a ton of words I know I say that must drive people crazy. If I start one more sentence with “So…” or “So I…” and I need another word for Awesome already.

      • Reply
        August 9, 2014 at 4:44 pm

        Awesome! Yes, I use that way too often, myself. Way: That’s another one. Oh my, I could fill a page. 😉

  • Reply
    August 8, 2014 at 2:12 am

    Does in not feel good to smash something against a wall. The biggest problem is having to pick up the pieces afterwards. Love the jar.

    • Reply
      August 9, 2014 at 2:55 pm

      When we were renovating our basement I discovered a love of demolition. I find demos to be like therapy. My husband was like “You’re having a lot of fun smashing that dry wall” and I was like “This is the best thing ever”. But yes. The clean up was a whole other story.

  • Reply
    August 8, 2014 at 6:35 am

    I love your humour Alex… and your great project!

    • Reply
      August 9, 2014 at 2:56 pm

      Some days, when you re-do a craft several times, this is when you have to get a little more honest about what it takes when things go wrong. Thanks Virginia!

  • Reply
    August 8, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Thank god, a blogger who acknowledges that things can go wrong and are sometimes a pain in the ass!!

    • Reply
      August 8, 2014 at 10:20 am

      Oh I’ve got more where that came from.

      Have you read: and

      I always tell it like it is. I feel like people need to understand that DIY’ing is not always the easy or best route. Things go wrong all the time. That’s one of the reasons we hired a contractor for the bones of our basement (drywall, electrical etc.) because it was a better decision for us both with time, skills and money.

      • Reply
        August 8, 2014 at 2:53 pm

        Oh, great holy Jesus. That is so awesome. I revel in the fail, realizing that if I ever actually dragged my butt off the couch to take on one of those projects…I would fail too.

      • Reply
        Rose Griffin
        May 28, 2016 at 12:54 pm

        Iv been trying so hard to paint the inside of glass liquor bottles iv collected so many but after days the paint just goes to the bottom.what type of paint would you recommend if any .really wanted to avoid spray painting so I could keep the shinny glass and be able to windex them over the years. PLEASE HELP. LOL. THANKS

  • Reply
    August 8, 2014 at 9:12 am

    Okay – first of all: I love this craft. Totally doing it! Just gotta eat a load of pickles first (or maybe I’m doing this BECAUSE I eat lots of pickles and have jars to spare – chicken or the egg, you know). Yours looks pro – start an Etsy shop! Sell you wares!

    Second – I accept your love of Coldplay. You are among many of my favourite people who love them, so if I have to hear a little Coldplay for the sake of my friendships, so be it. And to be fair, I know I’ve said easy peasy on more than one occasion. We all have our vices.

    • Reply
      August 9, 2014 at 2:57 pm

      I just bought a giant pickle jar. You know the type that feeds like 20 people. I am already like what do I make this into. You and me need to do a project together and blog about it. Because above all people who could rock a blog, it’s you. XO

    • Reply
      Carrie Nicole Graham
      December 28, 2018 at 1:01 pm

      use the craft paints that come in the bottles at the craft store or Walmart. Try “FolkArt” brand. They’re cheap, like right now 50 cents a bottle at Wally World and they’re made to work on glass. They’re acrylic but they’re also called enamel or acrylic enamel paints so they work on glass unlike the expensive fine art acrylic paints that come in the tubes (of which I’ve unfortunately wasted an enormous amount yellow by trying to coat the inside of a Glass Christmas Bobble to make in order to create a “Minion” ornament. It never dries! Here’s a helpful link to other alternatives….

  • Reply
    August 9, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    You seem very arrogant. Hopefully one day you’ll decide to encourage fellow artists rather than bash them.

    • Reply
      August 9, 2014 at 3:00 pm

      It’s unfortunate that you interpreted my post the way you did, however I would never think to admonish you for having your opinion. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  • Reply
    From Jenna With Love
    August 10, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Love the 3d look of the letters by painting the inside! Very simple but cool project. Now I just have to learn to lighten my spray paining hand a bit and I can try this out..

    • Reply
      August 10, 2014 at 1:30 pm

      Thanks Jenna! I ruined several glasses before my husband taught me how to slow down and do it properly. The whole misting thing I’ve since applied to most spray painted objects and it’s so simple but man does it ever help. Good luck with yours and I hope it goes well for you!

  • Reply
    Brandi Hegerty
    August 12, 2014 at 8:29 am

    I LOVE your realistic DIY ways Alex! Super post and trust my I’ve said a few “bad” words in my spray painting projects! Nice to meet you, and I look forward to reading your words of wisdom in the future. Brandi

    • Reply
      August 12, 2014 at 4:55 pm

      Thanks so much Brandi! Nice to meet you too! I try really hard here to have people understand that the end product is just one pretty photo. There is so much more that goes on behind it all. For me the craft fails and the behind the scenes stories make for some of the funniest disaster stories.

  • Reply
    Rita Ott Ramstad
    August 13, 2014 at 11:47 am

    You had me at “Listen, if you use the term “easy peasy” in your blog tutorials, I am unfollowing you as soon as I finish writing this post.” Although I love to bash social media, so glad I found you through it. This was awesome. 😉

  • Reply
    August 13, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    You crack me up! Love how this turned out. Oh, I’ve had some disasters with spray paint over the years, believe me!

  • Reply
    Scott M
    August 14, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    Instead of painting the inside of the jar, you can paint the jar white on the outside first. Then cover that with black paint. When you remove the letter stickers, the white paint from the other side of the jar will show thru the clear glass of the letters.

  • Reply
    Lisa Mackay
    August 22, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    This jar is gorgeous! And who doesn’t love a sky full of stars? 🙂 Question: did you paint the inside first or after? And if after, how did you not get any white paint on the outside? I am still processing this ‘misting’ concept…amazing.

  • Reply
    Alex - Hydrangea Girl
    November 5, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    This is actually amazing and I would so consider painting glass now that I know about the lightly misting / backing the hell away technique. This really gives a serious impact! And the finish is beautifully mat.

    Don’t worry, I appreciate your arrogance.

    xx A

  • Reply
    Renee C.
    May 19, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    So what does one do when one has OVER coated the jar and one has runs here and there. Is it fixable? …or do I, …does one… need to start over? Is sanding lightly on the jar where the runs are and spraying over them an option? #paintignorant

    • Reply
      May 19, 2015 at 5:17 pm

      Oh no. I’ve been there. You can sand it down but what will happen is that every time you spray new paint over it, you will wind up also spraying over the painted parts that work. It’s more of a mess than it’s worth. It’s also a reason I avoid gloss sprays bc they’re notoriously harder to paint with (at least for me). You can always try sponge dabbing the sanded down part with new paint. But at the end of the day, you will have a noticeable mark so depending on where it is on the jar, if you can live with it or fake a good faux aged look, give it a try. For myself, I’d start over. I empathize. I do. I’ve been there many times.

  • Reply
    February 21, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    I still have a problem with the paint peeling when i remove the letters.where am i going wrong?

    • Reply
      February 25, 2016 at 2:38 pm

      It could be a number of things. Residue left on the glass from the cleaner/soap/oil that you used. Old paint. New paint in a bad batch. The way the paint dried – temperature has a lot to due with how well the paint cures onto something and I joke that Canada has 4 months to do any sort of spray painting projects or else you’d better have a great spot indoors. Hope that helps some!

  • Reply
    October 15, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    Hi, and THANK you!!! I’m a DIYer only when necessary ( meaning I or my kids want something I can’t afford), but I usually manage to do well after a few trial and error runs. This time I’m making centerpieces for my daughter’s wedding . Never done it before, but I watched a few diy tutorials and she loved it, except she wanted a gold instead of crystal look. So now I’m trying to paint the centerpieces gold, but every time I have ended up ruining my beautiful creations with uneven drip runs. Thank goodness for this post! Now I know what I was doing wrong, and how to fix it!
    Ps. Thanks for the humor, too. I was feeling exhausted, discouraged, and frustrated, but after laughing at your comments, I feel optimistic again.

    • Reply
      October 16, 2016 at 10:53 am

      You’re most welcome! I have ruined many many jars trying this and even to this day, if I get impatient or try to do it when the weather conditions are too hot or too cold, I will still ruin some. Just remember, light mists and then walk away let it dry. Repeat.

  • Reply
    Stephanie Schmidt
    October 20, 2017 at 8:43 am

    I do realize this was blogged more than 3 years ago, but still very helpful, thank you so much for the run down. I myself am not a patient person and truthfully I was getting very frustrated with the drippies and glops. Thank you for the detailed steps on how to achieve a flaws coat I was ready to give up on this project.

    • Reply
      October 21, 2017 at 7:31 pm

      Sorry for the late reply! You’re most welcome! I still have days where I think I can handle this and then run out patience or pick the wrong day in the garage with sticky humid weather that ruins everything. Cold weather also fails. This year I may be doing an old school sponge paint brush and hand painting it on. Won’t look as clean and crisp as spray paint but sometimes, just sometimes, it’s the right thing to do.

  • Reply
    November 21, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    What brand and kind of spray paint did you use? It looks awesome!

    • Reply
      November 21, 2017 at 5:01 pm

      It was awhile back so I am not 100% sure but I suspect it was Rustoleum’s Flat Black or Satin. Avoid using a gloss spray paint unless you want to cry. The consistency of gloss spray paint is an exercise in patience that I do not have.

  • Reply
    Robert Vande Vrede
    March 28, 2018 at 4:48 am

    I spray painted a pickle jar brown to keep my dope in. Now you cannot see what’s inside. I used Rustoleum paint and it worked real good.

  • Reply
    July 1, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    Thank you so much this was so helpful and honest…I was getting really mad ! ????

  • Reply
    Amanda Wilson
    August 30, 2019 at 3:20 pm

    I googled how to paint jars and came across your tutorial and I’m so glad I did! Best tutorial I’ve seen! You made me laugh while being informative! Thank you!

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