Vintage Spice Labels

November 12, 2012 § 2 Comments

I cook a lot of Pakistani cuisine, ergo, I have a fair amount of loose, exotic spices in plastic packages that I buy at the local South Asian stores. Till date, I have stores them tightly in their plastic bags and or the small Rajtan spice jars from Ikea. I have always wanted to transfer and organize all my lovely, scented spices into beautifully labeled jars, and FINALLY, last week, I did just that!

The first step in my organizational endeavor was to label all the twenty jars. I wanted something a bit more creative than the usual white label maker. Armed with my trusty laptop, I scoured the net for some ideas and found two that were very inspiring:

1- DIY Spice Jar Labels from DIYdiva

2- DIY Authentic Vintage Labels from EATdrinkCHIC

I loved the humor and detail of DIYdiva’s set, but since my spice jars were so small, I decided to use her layout for the larger jars (pasta, rice and lentils) some weeks in the future. For this particular task, EATdrinkCHIC’s beautiful, apothecary simplicity would be the blueprint for my small jars.

When I say blueprint, I mean exactly that. I couldn’t really use her template because it did not contain all the spices I wanted (fenugreek, garam masala, asafoetida, etc.). Additionally, I wanted “instant” labels, using the tools I had in-house. I loved bottom-up approach to EATdrinkCHIC’s tutorial, so, armed with my mod-podge, old coffee granules, Microsoft Word and printer, I set to work.

(You can see what EATdrinkCHIC did here. As I said, I followed the spirit, if not the letter of her guide.)

I created my small, 2 inch x 1 inch labels in MS Word using the “tables” feature. I downloaded the fonts I wanted from smashing apps here and used “My Underworld” for the English name and “Quid Pro Quo” for the Urdu name (written in Roman script).

I printed them on regular white printer paper and cut them up with my trusty old scissors. I do not have the steadiest of hands, but my plan was that the slightly uneven edges would add to the charm of the labels. It worked (or so I tell myself).

I boiled water and two days worth of my used coffee granules in water (enough to just cover the 10 tablespoons of coffee). Since I already had used granules, I thought it would be worth seeing how they stained the labels. I loved the effect! But there was trial and error. I had to make sure that the water was boiling hot and the labels steeped for a good 30 minutes (note: the water was strained into a wide, shallow bowl, and only a few coffee granules were added). Since the granules were already diluted, the longer they were in the left them the longer you leave them the darker the color. Or you could use fresh powder.

Then I tried to blow-dry the labels to get the stained-water effect. Unfortunately, they were (1) too many for my impatient soul to individually dry and (2) the air was too strong while I held each one, so they ended up flying everywhere! I decided to just let them dry in the sunlight. I forgoed the beautiful dried water spots in favor of free time. And, luckily for me, I still ended up with a  dried, weathered look to them.

And finally, when all the labels were dry and all the jars filled with the spices, I used my left over semi glossy mod-podge to stick and seal the labels onto the jars. All in all, including taking care of a 15 month old and enforced wait-time, it took a total of 5 hours. Not bad eh?

(P.S. please pardon the photography. The kitchen lighting is not the best place, but unfortunately I could not do this project anywhere else.)


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§ 2 Responses to Vintage Spice Labels

  • Lou says:

    Nice job. I was thinking of using ModgePodge to seal the labels too. I followed your link from Amy Moss’s site- EatDrinkChic.

    Only thing is- perhaps it would have been nicer to give the labels a more oval shape to match the space on the jars? (I’ll let you know if I manage to design one for my own.)

    cheerio, Lou

    • manals says:

      Hi Lou, Thanks for the comment and so sorry for my late reply! You are right about the shape of the labels. I originally wanted to create circular ones, but 3 things discouraged me: 1- patience – I wanted to make the labels sooner rather than later and so I had to use what was in the house. 2- There was no way I was going to cut circles – My hand is not that steady or neat 🙂 and 3- Finding round labels in the exact size I needed was taking more time that I wanted, hence point # 1. Good luck with your project – Please let me know how it turns out. I have more jars that I want to add labels to as well, and I’m looking for new ideas.


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