Project #9: The “Leather” Jar

originally posted March 8, 2010

If you were a crafter back in the 70s, chances are you probably made one of these lovely “leather” jars. Please don’t ask me why anyone would ever think masking tape coated in shoe polish would resemble leather…I honestly don’t know. I made one back in elementary school that I gave to my father, probably as some cheesy Father’s day gift. He humored me by keeping it displayed on his bureau for years to house his spare change.

Not too long ago I was eyeing up my collection of recycled jars. I’ve become a jar hoarder over the past few years and they are beginning to pile up, so I felt it was time to do something crafty with at least one of them. I decided on an empty salsa jar, and of course the first thing that came to mind was the “leather” jar.

So, on my next trip to the grocery store I picked up a can of shoe polish and a roll of freezer tape. I wasn’t sure if the freezer tape was the same as masking tape, but it worked out just fine. The only roll of masking tape the grocery store had was a gianormous roll the width of duct tape, which they were selling for seven bucks. The freezer tape was a much smaller width and cost under four bucks. I wanted this to be a quick and simple craft and CHEAP, too.

Guess what? Now you too can make your very own “leather” jar, and I’m gonna show you how…


○ Empty jar

○ Masking tape or freezer tape

○ Can of shoe polish – I used brown

○ Mod Podge or similar sealer/varnish

○ Sponge brush or old paint brush for the varnish

○ Paper towels or old rags


1. Begin by tearing small pieces of tape and randomly placing them on the jar. Make sure to overlap the pieces. When tearing the tape, be sure to tear so you have jagged edges as opposed to perfectly straight edges.

2. Cover the entire outside of the jar including the bottom. When covering the mouth of the jar, be sure to fold the tape over the lip of the jar.

3. Next, take a paper towel or rag and begin applying a liberal amount of shoe polish on top of the taped areas of the jar. Once you’ve applied the shoe polish to the entire jar, take a clean paper towel or rag and buff the jar. This will take off any excess shoe polish in the cracks and crevices and kind of set the color into the tape.

4. The final step is to apply a thin layer of Mod Podge or varnish over the entire jar and let dry. I only put one coat of Mod Podge on mine, but put as many coats as you think you need, letting each coat dry before applying another one.

Once the varnish/sealer has dried, you’ll have a brand new, handy dandy, decorative storage jar made from recycled materials and cheap supplies.

Happy Crafting!