Aged Specimen Jar Label DIY

The dining room is finished and I’m working on a full post, but in the meantime here’s a little how-to to make these labels. I had a lot of fun and hope this tutorial is helpful. I by no means fancy myself a copywriter and am completely open to suggestions for more label ideas. If I get some I will be more than happy to update the pdfs.

I found a great tutorial from The Craft Junkie and did a little tweaking. The project originally calls for printing on card/photo stock and then soaking it in coffee, but our ink will run when bathed. Hell, the humidity in the morning at the Farmers Market can make my stuff a little weepy. So I ran the ‘treatment’ and then printed. All images link to larger sizes.

1. Ball up your paper into a tight ball. I pulled it apart and balled it again. Stick it into a coffee bath. It originally called for instant coffee and water, but I used leftover coffee. We make rocket fuel and knew it would do just fine.

I played with it a bit and started to smooth it out as it began to absorb the liquid. Depending on the thickness of the paper, it can stay in anywhere from about a minute to about two minutes.

2. Once it is saturated to your desire, pull it out and let it drip for a few seconds. At this point you can hang it, lay it, or iron it between paper towels to dry. I chose the latter for expediency.

3. Once it’s dry – and it has to be dry – set it up in the printer feed and initiate printing. Be sure to set the printer margins to 0! The paper isn’t very flat so I made sure to stand by the printer and keep an eye on the feed.

4. Cut and glue to what you’re labeling. I used a glue stick for our project as several labels went on antique bottles and I need to get them off with ease. The ink got a little blotchy on the sides and in a couple places in the label areas, but I think it adds a little character.

Typos and such have been fixed since this was taken. 😉

Update 10.9.2013
I noticed the last time I made these that I wasn’t happy with the edges. Once they’re cut, the original paper color shows around the edges. This year I tried to fix the issue. Here are some crappy quick cell phone images I took while making the new labels this weekend:

I have the label files hosted in pdf format if anyone is interested in downloading them.

Specimen Labels #1

Specimen Labels #2

I hope this provides a little inspiration and I would love to see what others do with their labels!

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  • Ldylaughal0t

    Do you have the file for the Specimen Jar Labels?

  • Hey there! Thanks so much for asking, I’ve updated the hosted files. Please let me know if you have any issues with downloading them. 

    I’m also getting ready to work on another batch!

  • Shay

    thank you so much for posting these labels (and the instructions for distressing them). I feel so fortunate to have found them. They’re great! I just printed them for tomorrow’s Halloween “Mad Scientist” display. I’m sure our trick-or-treaters will love it.

  • That’s awesome to hear, Shay, thank you! I do hope your trick-or-treaters get a kick out of them.

  • This is out of nowhere, but I just found these today, and I think they’re fantastic.

    I laughed SO HARD at the “crab dip” bit, and then again at the “further ostracism followed.” Perfect humor.

    Thank you for providing these. They are wonderful!

  • Thanks so much for appreciating the humor, Amanda!

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