Griffith Spice Jars: Making Decals or Paper Labels

Griffith Spice Jars: Making Decals or Paper Labels

Posted By: Elaine Times Read: 331

Making Decal or Paper Labels for Griffith Spice Jars


If you been wanting to buy blank jars, add to or swap out the labels on all of your Griffiths spice jars just keep on reading. With Microsoft Word, Publisher or any good desktop publishing program that can utilize a scanned image, you can try your hand at making your own labels for Griffiths spice jars. It is time consuming but, not complicated. And once you create a pattern, you can duplicate it often as needed.


You can also check out my "Questions" Guide for the flickr info for the site of a fellow e-bayer who was offering a free template, in several sizes, for the first and most commonly used Griffith Spice Jar label. At the time he contacted me (approx. 11/2009) the template was free. Following is the info he sent me:

COMMENT: Hello Dear Reader: I was contacted by another Griffiths Jar collector (in 2009) who has taken the time to re-create the original yellow labels for these jars. He has posted the design on "flickr" and is offering them free of charge to anyone who wished to download. Unfortunately, e-bay will not allow me to post his complete e-mail with the download links. You will need to contact him for more information or, do a search at flickr under "Griffiths Laboratories" or the username "Kanemojo". A copy of his e-mail to me follows:

"I read your restoration guide about Griffith's Spice Jars, and wanted to let you know I completed reproducing the front labels by tracing each letter of the labels from high quality scans. People can find and print these labels under a creative commons non-commercial and unalterable attribute license.


If you are a stickler for the original look of the labels, starting from scratch will be your best option. To do so, you'll need to copy intact labels (preferably front and back) from a labelled jar that you own. To do so, scan the front and back label into your desk top publishing or image editing software and go from there. I used a flat bed scanner and Microsoft Publisher. But, any other good desk top publishing program should work if you can import scanned images for editing. Following are instructions for making the front and back labels without using a template.


Here's how to do the front labels: First, measure and record the width and length of the original label across the top, middle and bottom. If you have a flat bed scanner, lay the front side then the back side of labelled bottle on the flat surface and scan it into your image editing software or DTP program. Open the scanned image in Publisher, crop away the bottle part of the image so that only the label remains.

Resize your scanned label to fit the jar dimensions that you wrote down. Then, either remove the existing text from the scanned label or create a text box, fill it with a white background filled slightly larger than the existing text area but within the black lines and cover the existing text. Create a 2nd blank (non-colored) text box inside of the first white filled box. This one will hold the new text describing the spices in your jar. Group the label image and text boxes then, copy. When finished, print out a sample on white paper and compare it to the existing label on the jar to make sure you have the label and the text area sized and laid out correctly for your jars. To confirm the fit, cut out the new label and use a basic white glue to paste it on a blank jar.

Once you are satisfied that the new label will fit your jars, copy the new label and paste it as many times as needed. Then, go back to the blank text box that you created inside of each label and fill in the names of the spices that you wish to use. Re-arrange the labels on the page by alternating top up/top down so that they fit snug up into one another but not too close. Remember that you need to be able to cut each individual label without damaging its' neighbor. When completed print them out on white paper as a sample and check for spelling, alignment etc. Do your final printing on decal paper made either for an ink-jet printer or laser printer - whichever type of printer you are using. Decal paper is readily available at printer supply stores and on the internet. Do a search at google or bing for "ink jet decal paper", "laser printer jet decal paper" or "water slide decal paper." BE SURE TO BUY THE TYPE OF PAPER THAT WILL WORK WITH YOUR PRINTER! Inkjet and Laser decal papers are not cross compatible.

After printing the labels, let them dry flat for 24 hours then, spray with several costs of an enamel based clear coat spray to stabilize the ink. I recommend two-three light coats. Cut out the labels and follow the instructions of the decal paper manufacturer for applying them to your jars. You can clear coat them lightly again once or twice again after they've been applied to your jars. Jars with newly decal labels can be wiped off/out with a damp cloth but not washed in the dishwasher or allowed to soak in water.

You can use the same procedure to reproduce the yellow labels. Yellow tag stock or oakum available from most printer supply stores will work just fine. You will need to use a waterproof glue that is made for paper to adhere the labels to your jars. Then, use a couple of light coats of clear spray paint to keep the ink from running when wet. A couple of thin coats of Mucillage glue will help to give them an aged appearance. Be very careful to keep these labels dry and do not wash the outside of the jars or allow the labels to soak in water.


Now, here's how to do the back labels: If I remember correctly the labels that I removed from my jars were 1-1/2" tall x 1" wide. All of their labels have the same basic format: the net weight at the top, the name of the spice in bold on the next line, a 6-line, one sentence description followed by the text "Purified and the patent number. The company name "The Griffith Laboratories" is on two lines and the location "Chicago" with spaces between it and "Illinois". I have not been able to successfully upload photos to this guide so that you can see and copy. But, I will continue to try. If you have a jar with the label, you can scan it per the instructions above.

You can reproduce these using software similar to Microsoft Publisher or Word and a basic label template that allows you to create a whole page of labels with a different name in each. If you cannot find square labels to fit, open your version of Word and, select the Avery label number to correspond with 2" x 4" shipping labels. "Divide" each 2" x 4" label by creating two text frames on each label. Enter the text for your labels - one spice in each text box. Griffiths back labels also included the name of the spice, a brief one line description and the copyright info for Griffiths Laboratories. You can use an out-of-print dictionary (preceding 1945) or any other non-copyrighted source to create your spice descriptions. Do a test print, cut and paste to check for correct sizing/fit then go for it.

If you can find tan, yellow or off-white paper labels that would be best. Otherwise, I am not sure what type of treatment you can apply to the paper in order to antique them and mimic the yellowish aging of the older labels. If any reader has a suggestion or an idea that worked, drop me a line and I will post it here. Any treatment to antique the color of the label paper should be applied and thoroughly dried before printing. And the label ink should be stabilized with two-three light coats of an enamel-based clear coat spray.

If you are using paper to create your own labels, you will need your own glue for applying them to both the front and back. Look for a waterproof glue that dries clear. REMEMBER, afterwards you cannot wash your newly labelled jars by submerging them in water. A soft, clean, damp cloth should suffice for cleaning up the outside after using them and the inside before refilling empty jars or replacing expired spices.

HINT: If you are mixing collectible Griffith spice jar labels in original condition with new, unique spices, spice blends that were not a part of the original sets, I would suggest that you label or mark the bottom of the original spice jars so that you can re-assemble the original set again if need be in the future.



As another option, you can purchase clear spice jar labels, cut them up and paste the letters one at a time vertically on the jar. Or, paste the entire label on sideways. Take a jar with you to your local craft store or kitchen to make sure that the print will fit. Be sure to clear coat the label side after you are finished to help make them resistant to water. Use Bing or Google and search under "spice jar labels" to find companies selling them online. Or, check at your local craft, stationery, kitchen supply stores.


Any label that you create or ready-made label that you paste on yourself should be treated with several coats (3+) of a clear spray paint to make them water-resistant. Check at your local craft or paint stores and get a better quality clear spray varnish, clear polyurethane or clear inkjet decal spray paint. Spray the labelled side only and allow to dry thoroughly - 12-24 hours between coats.


Unfortunately, my experience with e-bay sellers of replacement Griffith decal labels for these jars has not been good. One seller consistently answers one and only one question about their services and ignores all follow-up inquiries. The other sold me custom decals and the ink ran off as soon as they hit the water. After I complained and requested a few changes, the seller sent me a new set. I thanked her and offered to send the name of a product I found to stabilize inkjet printer output. When I went back to order more labels from her I found she'd blocked my user name saying that I used a phrase that is a "red flag to e-bay sellers" - whatever that means. In fact, I purposely refrained from doing so because I wanted to resolve the conflict amicably. After checking my correspondence with her, I did not see any language that would have alarmed me as a seller and I sent her the corroborating correspondence but, to no avail. She ignored my correspondence and kept my user id blocked. BTW, according to the 2nd seller cited above who finally contacted me again in 2009, these ladies are two different sellers, not one person operating under two different e-bay seller id's. When/if I find an acceptable e-bay alternative for replacing the labels, I will add that info here.


If you love these jars as much as I do, take a look at my other Griffiths Jar Guides located in this decorating blog: (c) 2010-present. -- Blessings from an avid Griffith Spice Jar Collector .

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