This is a guide about reusing glass jars. Instead of recycling or throwing out your glass jars, find another function for them. From storage to decorating, glass jars have many different ways of being reused.
Make these upcycled gift jars by decorating jar lids with beads, etc.
By Cassandra 1
Here are a bunch of creative ways to use recycled glass jars from condiments and other foods.
There are tons of different mix recipes on the crafting sites on the web: find one that you like, make it "yours" and have fun with it!
By Heather S.
Do not handle the outside of the jar with bare hands--you may leave oily fingerprints, then paint may not stick. Use disposable rubber type gloves. Put the jar over one hand if mouth is wide enough, otherwise, hold the jar by the top rim. Squeeze some white acrylic paint out onto a paper plate. Dampen a sea/wool sponge and dip into paint. Sponge the paint all over the jar, thin coat. Set aside to let dry. Clean sponge (Actually I do several jars at a time.)
When jar(s) are dry, sponge another coat of white paint onto entire surface. Dry, clean sponge. Repeat these steps until jar has at least 3 coats of paint. It should not be too opaque that you can't see through the jar, but opaque enough that you can't see the green light strand too clearly.. Let sit to dry for several hours, or overnight. It is not necessary to bake it.
Later, paint 2 smiling eyes on one side 1/3rd of the way down from the top, using an artist brush, round, pointy one and black paint. Under the eyes, paint a pointy carrot with orange paint, and under that, a silly grin with a liner brush. With an old scruffy brush or a stencil brush, paint a light "blush" on each cheek in pink.
When all is good and dry again, brush a clear gloss acrylic sealer over the entire jar. 2 coats are better than one and 3 thin coats are best. While the sealer is drying, insert the Xmas lights, with the cord hanging out the top.
Make a "stocking cap" out of a scrap of fleece, or a brightly colored kid's sock. Put that over the mouth of the jar, arrange "jauntily", and sew or hot glue jingle bell to the very top or end of the "cap". Plug in the lights, and Voila! A Snowman Lamp!
I make these to sell at craft shows and they fly off my shelves. I price them according to size, starting with $3.00 for little guys that I put a battery tealight inside to $6.00 for the mayo jar size. They make great gifts, too, for teachers, nursing home residents, the aunty or uncle who has everything else in the world, mainly everybody. Oh, and if you don't think you can paint the face, you might try looking for those rub on decal faces at your local craft or Michael's store. Have fun!
By Kathi in Beautiful Wisconsin
Editor's Note: Here is a post about inspecting light in glass jars often to minimize any danger.
Another idea is cover the lids with a scrap bit of fabric or parer, stick flower oasis or play clay on inside of the lid and stick in some artificial flowers into the oasis or clay then screw the jar back onto the lid upside down and then you have a nice floral decoration to display.
Kids could also make snow storms, instead of flowers stick a small toy or figure then fill jar with water and glitter. but make sure the lid is screwed back on tightly so there are no leaks when shaken,
Hope you find these suggestions of interest!
You can paint them, decoupage them, glue beads on them, pot plants in them, put pretty collections in them, use them to give gifts in instead of a bag, insert a pretty cloth or tissue paper, cover the lid with a corresponding pattern, tie ribbon with gift card and fill with goodies, gifts, small trinkets, gift cards, etc. they are great to individualize for sharing homemade baked goods. Also, I put a thankful jar out and each person writes what they are thankful for and sticks it in the jar, when we are feeling down and out we pull our thankful notes, and feel better immediately. Hope this helps.
One year when I was strapped for money right at my nephews birthday, I got a really nice jar, painted the lid a very neon orange and filled the jar with little strips of a various colors of brightly colored neon paper. The strips of paper were about the size of those you find in fortune cookies and on each one I wrote a message on it for my twelve year old nephew who was going through a rough time and feeling down in the dumps because of his parents divorce. I wrote things like "You're a terrific kid", "Have a great day!" "Hugs and kisses" "You have a wonderful smile" "I love how you are so kind and caring when talking to Mrs. Jones" (our elderly neighbor) etc. I put about fifty of these affirmations in the jar as well as about ten that offered low cost things like "Good for an ice cream cone" or "Good for a hug" or "Good for one movie ticket" etc.
He only got to pull one strip a day and couldn't look through the jar before he pulled a strip of paper. Every day he had something to look forward to and he never knew if it was going to be a "warm fuzzy" or a little "gift". I put a little tag on the jar explaining all of this but I still wasn't very sure how my very materialistic and spoiled nephew would deal with this as a gift for his birthday. I thought he might think it was lame but he LOVED it! At the end of the sixty days, he asked if we could do it again! Who Knew?
Anyway the idea is that you just need to be creative. I have always been a big fan of recycling and I always need things organized so I just combined the two... Hope you got one or two ideas. Happy jar collecting
By Susie from Buckhead, GA
Feel free to post your ideas below.
Here's an idea for bringing a splash of color to those bare spots in your yard and garden.
Approximate Time: 1-2 hours
Bonus tip: if the soil is too hard or too sandy, use a big flower pot with rocks to hold your sticks upright. :-)
Source: I saw a similar project in the book, 2 Hour Garden Art, by Ruby Begonia
By ~gloria from western NY
I had some old jars laying around and put some acyrilic paint in the bottom with a little bit of water and shook them up and then let them sit to dry over night. Now the kids have colourful jars to store pencils, crayons, and scissors.
By Coville123 from Brockville, Ontario
A pretty way to display your flowers.
Approximate Time: 30 min
By Coville123 from Brockville, Ontario
I have about 20 or more little 2 oz. glass jars with lids. Seems a shame to throw them out. Any ideas what to do with them? Thanks!
By Batwing from Virginia
June 7, 2009
Use them to store leftover food. Or use them as drinking glasses. Save the lids and use them so that if you knock over the "glass" it doesn't spill out. Peace!
By erin 3
I try to store my open bags of peas and beans in a glass tea jar (I use a funnel to get them in). This keeps me from having the beans spill all over my pantry when the rubber band doesn't go on properly. I have found that if I open up the plastic bag at one end, I can slide the bag with the label and directions over the end of the jar, so that I don't forget what's inside OR how to cook it. It's easy to pour the beans out into a measuring cup since the mouth of the jar is narrow. Now my pantry stays a lot neater with the jars upright instead of having different shaped rice and bean bags everywhere. Also, I can save some money by not buying containers since I just reuse a jar!
By Erin from Blue Bell, PA
I reuse all the glass jars that come into my house. The real small ones are great for extra washers and screws, beads, jewelry holders when traveling (I use small pierced earrings), extra chopped veggies, and so on.
The larger jars make pretty candy jars with a little dab of decoration. The very large jars are great cannisters for staples like flour or sugar. Dried beans, peas or macaroni look attractive with a touch of decoration on any shelf.
By Elizabeth from Dodson Prairie, TX
If you are like me, you love displaying things in jars. I do it with rice, 16 bean soup, buttons, etc. However, if you are doing something crafty and you want the effect without the wasted stuff on the inside that no one sees (not so important with rice but a real loss with old buttons), then do what I do. Keep a TP roll or for a taller jar, a paper towel roll and slip inside the jar. Then fill around it with your pretties. I am submitting two examples, one done and the other not finished so you can see what I mean.
As a special bonus, one of those jars can be a secret stash for jewelry, cash, etc, by slipping it all down the center where no one would think to look.
By Sandra from Salem, OR
By Cindy 2
I do not throw away any glass or plastic jars that can be reused. I save the small ones for spices I buy in bulk at the store for a fraction of what they cost in bottles on the shelf. I also use them to store taco mix, gravy mix, beans, etc. Anything bought in bulk is usually fresher and less expensive.
By koffeeladie from Twin Falls, ID
I picked up these interesting little jars at a thrift store for 25 cents. They sort of reminded me of perfume jars so I thought they would be nice in the bathroom.
By Jean 1
Sometimes I buy coffee in jars that look like small storage jars. I use lots of spices so I find them very handy to use as spice jars. When they are empty, this is what I do. It saves on money and they hold so much more than the small ones that are sold. I also keep the fuses from plugs when the appliance has refused to stop working in the jars to reuse when a fuse blows in another plug.
By Longworth from London, Middlesex
These are scarecrow and pumpkin decorated electric tealight holders. They could also be made as decorative treat jars
Made in a variety of shapes and sizes, these look adorable on a mantle or porch. And can be used year after year!
By Diana, Louisville, KY
Editor's Note: This project should never be used with a traditional candle flame, it is very flammable. Only battery operated tealights or other non-flame candle substites should be used.
Recycle your large salsa jars. I use them for my salt, pepper and spices. Just spray paint the lid any color, I use white spray paint then take a nail and hammer in holes on the top of the lid large enough for whatever spice you are putting in them. Great for dry rubs and your own spice blends. These work great for barbecue. After friends and family saw mine they all made their own.
I started buying the Polar fruit jars at Wal Mart. They are in the canned fruit lane. They are the cutest little jars and the fruit is lovely to eat. I think they are $1.00. When the jar is empty, you would not believe the things I use these jars for. I use them for things like: coins, sugar, salt, pepper,
finger nail clippers, tweezers and so on.
Decorate an old jar (any kind of container will work!) with scrapbooking paper
Approximate Time: 10 minutes
Cut a band 2-3 inches narrower than the height of the container. Make sure it is long enough to completely encircle the container, plus 1 inch. Join 2 pieces of paper together with your adhesive if necessary (as I had to do in this sample). Apply adhesive to one short end of the strip and to both long ends of the strip. If your strip is particularly wide you may need to add another line of adhesive in the middle.
Carefully position the short end of the strip at the center front of the container (the seam will eventually be covered with your label). Here is the tricky part. Go slowly to assure the strip is properly positioned on the container as you will not easily be able to remove it and reposition. Turn the container on its side and apply adhesive to the remaining short end and secure over the beginning of your strip.
Create a label (I used Stampin' Ups new Label framelits dies). I used 3 different ones, but used coordinating papers and dimensionals to give the label height, contrast, and interest. Stamp a sentiment and adhere to the label.
Mount your label to the front (covering the seam of the 2 short ends of paper).
Fill with treats and enjoy or give as a gift!
By Diana from Prospect, KY
I don't ordinarily save jars, but I've found that the best to save are the Wyler's bouillon jars, nice size, airtight, and the labels easily come off!
Years ago I could buy mayonnaise and salad dressing in quart glass jars. No more, that's a things of the past. I just started making my own homemade mayonnaise with my Vita-Mix and wanted to keep it in a glass jar in my refrigerator.
When you buy restaurant size jars of mayo, salad dressing, hot sausages, pickles or pickled eggs, save the jars and use them to store your bird seed or other pet food. It keeps the mice from being drawn into your house and eating your expensive animal chow.
After pricing drinking glasses in the store, I bought a case of a dozen pint canning jars for about 1/3 the cost. I enjoy the "country" look, and can use the jars next fall to can.
I hate throwing away and even just recycling glass jars. I wash and reuse them instead. As a result, I am overrun and need some thoughts on additional uses for glass jars (with lids or without).
Darcy from Portland, OR
I am hoping to use empty spaghetti sauce jars to use for soup in a jar mixes to make up as gifts. I think they are the right size and should be able to use canning jar seals and rings with them. I have been saving just about any nice or interesting glass jar/container. I think they make good storage for all sorts of things.
Post by Debbie52
I use 16 ounce glass peanut butter jars (Teddy) for drinking glasses! They are thick and strong, flat bottomed and very stable - and they have a nice wide mouth so you don't bump your nose while drinking! Although I have a cabinet full of "real" glasses, I always choose one of these. My family laughed at me at first and now they use them, too!
You can also paint the jar covers for a nicer look, but only the outside for safety reasons. Using the same color makes them look a set.
In an ex-co-worker's home, she keeps dried beans (each kind in a different jar), dried pastas (each kind in a different jar), popcorn, etc. in glass canning jars above on her cabinet tops overlooking her kitchen. It adds to the decor as she's got it all in a Country style. The only thing is, you'd have to have a good step ladder to get them down. Anything could be kept in these jars. Also, if you didn't have any glass jars, but had an abundant of clear plastic kitty food jugs. Just wash them up thoroughly before using. The same could be done with these & these would be good for cereal containers, amongst other items, of bulk.
I use jars to store any leftovers in my refrigerator. They are free and you can see at a glance what is in them. It isn't as easy to miss them till you can't remember how long they have been in there. I sometimes use them to drain bacon and other meat grease into before putting it in the trash so it won't leak through the plastic.
Make Scented Jars...
Melt soap in top half of double-boiler. I use a microwave, but be very tedious with it and careful. Constantly check it and do not let it get too hot. In fact, my microwave has no high/low setting so i will heat it for about 30 seconds, let sit a minute, heat another 30-45 seconds, heat again... til melted.
As soon as it is melted, add fragrance and color . I do let mine set for a few minutes to cool just in case the jar is not heat tolerant. This is why canning jars are necessary. Carefully pour into jars. Let set overnight. Place lids on jars. When needed, poke holes in lid or remove the whole lid.
Use glass jars to store matches in. This helps keep them out of little hands and also keeps the moisture away.
I keep just about everything in glass jars, and have no problem with pests. If I use a lemon, I zest it, dry it, and keep it in a small glass jar. If I buy pasta, it comes home and goes directly into glass jars.
We buy a lot of dried fruits to snack on, which are kept fresh in glass jars. Specialty tea bags go into them also, as do mixes I make--like Russian Spiced Tea or hot chocolate. I keep things I buy in bulk at the health food store in glass jars, like spices, powdered maple sugar, sesame sticks, etc. When I make soy milk,
I pour the hot milk in several small glass jars to set in the fridge--they seal and I always have a supply of fresh milk on hand. I also re-melt used candles and make new ones in glass jars.
I keep one for miscellaneous screws, nails, and things that I might need at some time, rather than throw them out or loose in a junk drawer.
They're great for foods that you give to other people, like homemade chicken soup, cause they don't need to be returned. Seems like I can never get enough of these.
My biggest complaint is that the makers of Mayo have started using a different size lid, and you can no longer use their jars with standard rings for canning.
Good Morning Everyone,
I recycle all glass jars one way or the other. The quart jars from mayonnaise and salad dressing get used to store spaghetti sauce in my fridge as well as leftover chili or homemade vegetable soup with a tomato base. Those foods will almost always stain any sort of plastic storage container, but will not stain or harm the glass jars.
Once opened, Baking Soda gets moved to a glass jar and a bit of the front of the box is either inserted with the soda or it's taped onto the outside of the jar.
All sorts of beads and other small craft items are place in glass jars on shelves which are easy to see when you're looking for a craft item.
We still make jams, jellies and marmalades in our home, so the nice mason jars which contain store-bought spaghetti sauce are saved for them as well as for the whole-berry cranberry sauce that I cook every Thanksgiving and Christmas. Because of the amount of sugar needed in cranberries, I just keep the homemade sauce refrigerated until needed, and we recently ate the last of what was cooked in 2004... just as good as the day I cooked it.
There is almost no end to the uses for glass jars around our house. Everything from leftover paints to Play-Doh will go into glass jars and kept for the time they're needed again. Nails, screws, nuts, washers and bolts are visible, dry and rust-free forever.
A few leftover cookies or crackers will stay as fresh as the day they were first opened if placed in a nice clean glass jar with the lid screwed on tight. Candy will last from one year to the next in a glass jar.
I could write a book about my glass jars, I suppose, and very nearly have. Sorry, Folks. :)
Have a great day,
Julia in Orlando, FL
When I open a box of corn starch I always put the remainder in a glass jar with a lid that way when I use it the next time no mess, I also keep a glass jar of dry milk handy and just spoon out what I need. Brown sugar keeps much better in a glass jar none of my brown sugar gets dried out now. You get the idea anything you open that you cannot reseal put the rest in a glass jar. I sometimes use half a can of veggies and the rest get sealed up in a glass jar. Be sure to label them. Drucilla
Use your recycled mayonnaise jars or glass jars by putting enough ingredients to make a patch of cookies, cake, brownies, etc. and taping a recipe card to it to give as a gift. All of the ingredients are within the jar and with the recipe THEY will be ready to make and bake whatever it is that you gave them!
Actually this is also good to do with soup ingredients and is especially appreciated by NEW WIFES and thankful NEW HUSBANDS, ha!
By Too Tall Carr
If you store a cut onion in a jar in the refrigerator, you'll never store it in plastic wrap or plastic bag again... no smell! I use jars for left overs.
You can take the jar an store grease in them of course with the lid an go to the dollar store get false rose pedals with water the color you desire I desire red with a false rose an a stem with aluminum foil colored in gold or silver I prefer gold its just different also its a sight on all free crafts .com by being its winter they have chicken soup all added in a jar it looks like decorations all a person have to add is there chicken on the sight it will tell you how to prepare it. (01/05/2006)
I remove the labels from jars and run them through the dishwasher. I use them for storing various types of nuts in the fridge, storing open cans of olives, to make salad dressings, storing grated cheese that I have grated such as parmesan and romano, storing opened packages of pasta and rice and the various spice rubs that I make. It keeps them bug free! (01/05/2006)
Make sure NEVER to use regular glass (non-canning)jars for canning.
Also, NEVER re-use jars which contained anything poisonous - no matter how well rinsed. (02/27/2006)
A preschool or elementary school could use them for crafts. The schools here have used small jars for bath salts for Mother's day presents and memory jars for Valentines's Day . (02/27/2006)
Another great idea for recycling glass jars is to wrap it with wire making it fancy with maybe beads added leaving enough of the wire to wrap around the neck and make a handle for hanging. You can then add a tea-light. It's a way to have candle light on your patio for those breezy summer nights. Even putting a tea-light in a jar on the patio table works great. (02/27/2006)
I use large pickle jars as canister jars. My DH and Kids love dill pickles. I now have some beautiful canisters. I paint the lids and have painted apples on the jars. I'm thinking of changing my kitchen theme to birds and bird houses. Its easy to change just some polish remover and I can paint again. I painted with acrylic paints (02/28/2006)
By Susie, Buckhead, Ga
You could put flowers into a glass jar without a lid. Then "dress" the jar in a little cloth bag (made from remnant material) and tie round the neck of the jar with cord, lace, string or whatever. (03/07/2006)
By Carol Churchill
Down south in Willamina (haha) my husband screwed the lids under a shelf in the garage, then stores screws/nails/whatnots in the glass. He just untwists what he needs and puts them back. Granted, it is semi permanent, but it guarantees he puts them back and it looks kind of nice. We did that with baby food jars for model airplane, and plan to use larger jars for the automotive/bigger stuff.
I was wondering, do you know of any restaurants near Legacy Emmanuel hospital that serve kids ages 5 & under at a free or reduced price for Tuesday nights? (03/08/2006)
I save gallon and half gallon pickle jars & wash them thoroughly.
We don't buy pitchers for tea, ice water or juices. We use our gallon jug to make tea or etc and store the jug in the refrigerator.
I save smaller glass jars and bottles and in the summer I cut flowers from my garden, tie a ribbon or raffia around the mouth of the jar and give as gifts. Vanilla bottles are so cute for this.
I have also made simple silk flower arrangements in old spaghetti sauce jars and just wrapped the jar in fabric or craft paper.
When my space for storing the jars gets full that is when I know I need to surprise somebody with a present! (07/01/2006)
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I too have an abundance of glass jars. I am teaching my students how to decorate the outsides of the jars with tissue paper. We plan to put tea light candles inside and sell them. We think they would either be good holiday candles or good emergency candles. The tealights and matches can be kept inside the glass jar and kept handy in case the electricity goes off. We also think they would be very safe candles. (12/21/2006)
you can use for a flower vase, or a herb pot. (11/24/2007)
I save old bottles and jars mostly for storage as listed below. But one truly wonderful project I have been doing is making glassware from wine bottles and even bowls from gallon jugs. A tile cutter or 'wet saw' is used to cut uniformly. Then I use a sand paper attachment to my drill for smoothing the edges. The final 'buff' or polish is done with 400 grit emery paper and finished off with 'Bar Keepers' ( a scrubbing cleanser you can get at any grocery store). They make wonderful gifts and I have even done whole sets for peoples Kitchens. (01/26/2008)
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Instead of a plastic water bottle (and the harmful PBAs that come with most of them), I use a pickle or salsa jar as my water bottle. No matter what kind of plastic bottle one uses, it normally makes the water taste a bit different. This is not the case with glass, the water tastes sooo good. (07/23/2008)
Recycle small wide-mouth glass jars to store leftover onion. Store on a shelf where you can see it. No odor and no waste since it is easy to see and does not get pushed to the back of the fridge.
Glass jars are great for other foods, since you can easily see the contents; you know the old saying, "out of sight, out of mind."
We have a sandwich shop and end up with empty glass gallon jars from the pickles. Any suggestion for a craft or other uses?
By C Hop from Winter Haven, FL
Using them for canisters is the obvious 1 ; people are always asking for them on freecycle and Craig's list, I just gave a lady 4 for her to make an herbal tea. You can turn them into aquariums or terrariums frost the outside and put Christmas lights on the inside put creepy-crawlies things in them for Halloween decorations you can ask your customers if they give you an idea you give them a jar, in fact I have 1 in my garage and I put my chicken feathers in. (06/15/2009)
They can be made into lamps. Drill a small hole in the bottom for the cord, u can purchase a special lamp head and wiring. After wiring and before putting the top on, fill the jar with something cool, like shells, marbles etc. Easy to decoupage on too. If u do it on the outside, the inside could still be used. Use a single printed layer from pretty napkins for a semi-transparent look. (06/18/2009)
My sister used to take them and make a covering of your choice that was open at top and bottom. She put elastic around top and bottom with the closure much tighter on the bottom. The elastic at the top fits around the neck of the jar. Mine she made me has the following: White eyelet fabric trimmed at the top with white lace with white grosgrain ribbon tied around the neck and decorated with white tiny roses and white pearls. Inside you put a toilet brush for your bathroom. Makes a beautiful holder. (06/18/2009)
Another thing I saw besides the toilet brush jars that my sister made me was one for a bank. I bought this one in Northern Arkansas. The whole thing was painted in this case royal blue. Then a cute horse say from a coloring book or craft book was painted on the front. It said, "Horsing Around Fund". And the lid had an opening put in it for money. My little brother-in-law who is handicapped just adores horses. He loved the bank to add to his horse and bank collection. (06/18/2009)
My first thought was to use them as a cloche'. I root some plants and use cloche's to act as a greenhouse. Love the other ideas too. (06/18/2009)
Why not make pickled eggs in them and sell them too. (06/18/2009)
Using glass paint, you can paint them to look like pumpkins. The lid you just paint green. You can add green foam leaves glued on the top, if you wish. Then, you can use them to hold your Trick or Treat candy. (06/18/2009)
Make an appropriate sized slit in the jar lid, choose a local human or animal shelter/food bank or any local cause you choose. Make/attach donation details on the jar and place it on your checkout counter ... Make a few and share them with fellow local businesses ... The recipients will greatly appreciate donations and you'll feel good for the effort :-) Even if the amount collected doesn't seem like much, every little bit helps :-) (06/18/2009)
They are great for making sun tea in.
You could donate them--preschools and art teachers would love them.
You could sell them in your shop for $1 each
Sell them at Christmas full of cookies made in your shop (06/18/2009)
If you have a bulk-food store or a health food (with bulk food) store they might like them to sell for customer storage of bulk food. Maybe you could trade jars for some of their products that you could use at your store. (06/18/2009)
You could take a large, thick pillar candle in the center of the jar bottom and then put small rocks or glass pebbles around the candle to stabilize the candle. Put them outside use as luminaries. I guess you could use them for decoration inside as well, on the counter top or tables?
We did this down the walkway in front of the house one year at Christmas time and it was really pretty! I got the candles at the dollar store and I used all white candles.
You could use other colors at Christmas (red, gold, green, etc.) or switch them out depending on the holiday. Red for Valentines, green for St. Patrick's, pastel for Easter, etc. You could use more than one color candles: red and green for Christmas or red, white and blue for the 4th of July!
Hope that you get lots of neat ideas! Elizabeth Jane (06/24/2009)
I use mine for vases, I use rub on decals-usually words,to decorate outside,and colored rocks on inside, my flowers last so long in the jar w/ the rocks. you can etch them, p sponge paint them. (I sponge vodka, wine,etc bottles for vases) (07/04/2009)
I store my sugars in glass jars, like the big pickle jars, same thing for flour, cornmeal, oatmeal. Bugs can't get in them, because my house is so small. I decorate my jars first and put them on shelves hung in front of window that doesn't get sun. It is like having my personalized canister set.
By Moonseekerjade from Onset, MA
Hi! I did the same but I painted the lids on my jars to match the decor of my kitchen. I stenciled the first letter of each thing I have in the jar. For example: S for sugar, F for flour and so on. I stenciled designs on the jars. Sure beats going to the store and paying a big price for jars you can make yourself.(11/09/2009)