katharine likes to make things: painted coffee jars


I picked up the habit of drinking instant coffee in the afternoon. Which led to the habit of collecting empty coffee jars. Not a terrible habit to develop in our recycle/reuse culture niche. With all the dry goods we pick up from bulk food stores, it’s nice to have glass containers around to transfer them from the plastic bags. I hate the plastic bags. And I hate their little twist ties that I apparently tend to twist on backwards, which frustrates Boyfriend. So we have a tidy collection of jars waiting for a new purpose.

During one of my infinite Tumblr scrolls, I happened onto Eric Barclay’s transformation of used condiment containers. Brilliant. Of course I came down with a case of the Icandothat. So I took a couple of my instant coffee jars and painted them up.



Nescafé instant coffee jar
shoe whitener
acrylic craft paint
pompom (for top of hat)
felt (for scarf)
Mod Podge Gloss

I came up with this owl/bird-like creature to paint on the jar surface. I used shoe whitener as a primer because that’s what I had on hand. The sponge applicator made applying the whitener easy, but it still required several coats. Shoe whitener does dry pretty quick, though, so I didn’t need to wait too long. After the primer, I drew on my character design with a light pencil. The trouble with drawing on oddly shaped surfaces means the design can go a bit wonky. But I didn’t do too badly. Success!

Once I had my design sketched on, I used some tiny brushes to apply regular acrylic paint, drew over the paint borders with Sharpie and covered the whole thing in a coat or two of gloss Mod Podge to protect from light scratches and the elements.

Barclay’s coffee mates reminded me so much of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore that I decided to transform my jars into their Pete & Dud characters.


I didn’t document the process for the owl jars, so I snapped a few low light shots of my Pete & Dud process.




I felt it was appropriate, in creating a work of “art,” to capture Pete & Dud in the moment during the art museum sketch where Peter sends Dudley into a bit of a giggle fit.


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