Introduction: Glass - Repurposed

Not everyone works with Arduino, LEDs and saws to re-purpose glass. You can still find more than enough reasons to keep glass out of landfills. Here is a simple, creative Instructable for re-purposing glass bottles and jars into treasures, functional storage and gifts. Be it desk accessories, candy jars, canisters and much-coveted bar decor, glass bottles and jars have no place in the trash.


Any ordinary or unusual bottle or jar

Spray paint

Sand paper (fine grain)

Steel wool, emery board or nail fIle

Clean rags/towels


Glue gun

Super Glue

Beads, charms, medallions, hemp, chain, wire - any embellishment that will add character to your glass item.

Step 1: Clean Your Bottle or Jar Thoroughly

Clean your bottle or jar with hot soapy water. If your item has a stubborn label, just soak it in hot water for 10 minutes. Allow the glass bottle or jar to air dry for several hours. An undetected water drop hiding inside the item will ruin a good paint job.

Step 2: Prep the Glass & Choose Your Paint

Prep. Lightly sand all outside areas of the bottle or jar to scuff up glass, allowing the paint to better adhere. After sanding, be sure to wipe down all areas of the bottle or jar with a barely-damp clean town to ensure all dust from sanding is removed.

Decision time. Decide if you want a smooth clean look to your bottle or jar or if you want a more aged/worn look as this may affect your paint application. If you prefer a simple French Country white look, you may want 2-3 coats of the same color paint following the directions below, but omitting the black paint. If you prefer an aged/worn look, then carry on as instructed below for two-color paint application.

Choose your paint. For any bottle or jar selected for decor purposes only, I usually purchase the cheapest spray paint, as the item will only see an occasional duster. If your item will become a food storage container where it is moved around and opened a lot as well as subjected to hand-washing, go for a better quality spray paint made for glass.

Step 3: Paint Away Picasso

Head outside or to a well ventilated garage or shed and lightly coat the glass with paint. If you are going with a aged/rustic look, the first & second coat of paint should be black.

TIP: If you have some old PVC or dowels - even a decent sized branch, you can stand this up in a bucket or trash can so that you can invert your bottle or glass, before you begin to paint. This saves valuable drying time between coats (realizing you also must paint the bottom), and lessens the chance of finger prints.

Paint. Following the paint manufacturer's directions for drying time, or choose my method - give it an hour or so (the bottle or jar should not be tacky in any way if it is dry) before applying a second coat of paint.

Overall, I find that two coats of black provide a great under-coat when going for the aged/distressed look. Your third and final coat should be your primary color.

NOTE: I have tried one coat of black underneath one coat of primary, this does work but you want to be sure not to over-sand. You may end up disappointed in the results. I have also tried the aged/worn look without using a black under-coat. This also works, but the affect is not as grand. I definitely suggest the under-coat. They say beauty comes with a patience is a wonderful thing here.

Step 4: Nothing Wooly About Steel

So your final coat of paint is completely dry, time to get creative. Use your steel wool to lightly buff areas of the bottle or jar. Depending on the the item's design or shape, you may find the eraser's end of a pencil wrapped in fine grit sand paper or a small nail file, works wonders.

TIP: I suggest keeping to either the recesses or the protrusions to have a better end result. I have seen countless works at fairs and resale shops where wooden items and furniture were way over distressed. If you are unsure where to buff, pick up your item - where does your hand rest? Remove the cap or lid - where do your fingers meet the glass? Those are great places to begin.

Distressing should mimic where an item naturally wears from contact. Distressing should never cover the entire item. Never. Ever.

Step 5: Charms, Medallions & Beads, Oh My!

Now that your bottle or jar looks perfectly and naturally distressed, its time to embellish it. Use what ever you have. Re-purpose old jewelry you will never wear again.

If my bottle or jar has a history, I try to incorporate that in the item. As an example, after someone saw one of my Crown Royal bottles, completely refinished, they asked if I would do something similar to a Kraken bottle they had. They loved the beach and told me they liked the color of sea glass. Voila. I presented them a stunning Kraken bottle in a wonderful distressed sea glass blue-green. I incorporated actual sea-glass beads, a medallion and a large rhinestone octopus. It was awesome. I really wanted to keep the bottle, but it wasn't mine. Bummer. I do however have my very own Kraken bottle now that I will replicate the design for my little collection....someday...when I have a lot more time.

If your item will be ornamental, then have at it with glue on rhinestones, beads, and what not. I typically start with a centerpiece - a medallion or I wire together various beads that will either tell a story on their own, or just look really good together. Once I have the centerpiece designed, then I just dig through my eclectic assortment or clearanced beads and charms (seriously, it may have been something I bought 3 years ago for 37 cents at a craft store, but knew someday, I'd use it in a fantastic way). Sometimes, it may take me 15-45 minutes putting the finishing touches on an elaborate bottle, but that is rare. If you have a few rhinestones and beads, you will have something pretty cool when you put it all together.

For a jar that you intend to use for unitarian purposes, you can easily wind some cord or hemp around the top that suspends beads and charms or a chalkboard tag you can find at most craft store. Pickle jars and other large jars can easily store sugar and oatmeal. Line up a set of jars on your kitchen or bathroom counter to hold all kinds of things. Before painting, try running painters tape around the outside of the jar - about half-way up from the bottom. This provides a glimpse of the contents - no embellishments needed. Perfect for cotton balls, q-tips, band-aids or in the kitchen for dog treats, coffee, coffee pods.

Step 6: Finito

There is no end to what you can do with re-purposed glass...even if you don't use power tools. For those that humbly coordinate kid's Santa Workshops before Christmas, your can easily make a lot of gifts by simply re-thinking what a bottle or jar could be.

For this Instructable, please don't judge the turquoise Patron bottle worked on. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. It is by far, the worst job I have ever done. It was however fun putting it all together.

I am currently rethinking some of the ways I re-purpose bottles and jars. As pretty as a row of milk white bottles or jars look together, I do want to get away from paint. It just flat out isn't good for the environment.

Glass Challenge 2017

Participated in the
Glass Challenge 2017