#AtoZChallenge | Jazzy art deco labels for my husband’s homemade shrubs

Early in the pandemic, one of our home projects was putting up a bar. I promise the bar was unrelated to the pandemic. It was a long overdue project. We had been storing our liquor bottles on top of a tall bookcase in our living room. It wasn’t a great aesthetic and it was awkward to get the bottles up and down from that spot. 

After looking at various pieces of furniture we went in a different direction. I saw some shelves at Ballard Design that were the perfect fit for the space I was trying to transform into our bar area. 

Of course, being me, I did some custom modifications. I wanted to be able to store glassware and wine bottles too. I found some under the cabinet wine glass holders that fit the bottom of the shelves perfectly. I spray painted them gold to match the shelves. Since the shelves are metal and do not have a solid base, I couldn’t just screw the holders easily onto the bottom. After copious amounts of gorilla glue, I attached a wooden piece inside the metal base to provide a solid surface. I also pre-drilled holes around the outside metal edge and between those two modifications was able to securely attach my wine glass holder to the base of my shelves. 

We attached the shelves to studs knowing they would need to hold a lot of weight and then transferred the liquor bottles and other barware. Everything looked great but I wanted one more embellishment. I found some drink recipe prints on Etsy from LynnearArtStudio and scored some $1.99 clearance pictures that I was able to take apart and re-use to frame the prints. They were the perfect size and had a nice depth to them that worked well with the shelves.

The entire project was a huge success and we have been loving our new bar. There has been a little negotiating between my husband and I as to the best way to display everything. I’ve finally convinced him to go with a staggered approach to the bottles and we’ve curated the rest into a cohesive display.

Except, for a few random jars filled with my husband’s homemade simple syrups. They just didn’t fit the fancy new space.

I’ve often heard writers talk about how they don’t know what is going to happen next in their story until the characters tell them. The story takes on it’s own life and evolves separate from the original ideas the writer might have had. I think this is often true of other creative pursuits too. You may start out with a solid idea in your head but sometimes things just go in their own direction. That’s one of my favorite things about creativity. You don’t always know how everything is going to turn out. Things evolve, change and pivot.

This project definitely drove itself and I am so happy that it did. The end result was unexpected. It was different than my usual style and perfect for the space. Plus, I got to do one of my favorite craft activities.

I can be immediately transported back to my childhood as I peak through the oven window waiting for the thin, plastic images to transform into miniature works of art. Pulling them out of the oven once they hit that sweet spot of shrinkage and flattening them as they harden into their final permanent shape is just so satisfying. I loved Shrinky Dinks as a teenager and fell back in love with them when I used them again with my own girls.

I knew I wanted to do a Shrinky Dink project for this challenge.

I landed on creating tags for my husband’s homemade simple syrups and upgrading their overall presentation. Those random jars were mucking up the works. They needed some pizzazz. 

I started by searching for some new containers. I found some matching bottles at Goodwill. I liked the shape and thought they would work well. I needed to sanitize them first. Years ago, when I had my first post college apartment, I had no money for decorating. Constraints can often lead to creativity. After finishing up a six pack of beer served in miniature Corona bottles, I turned them into spice jars that I still have. I’ve been doing home projects from even before I had a home!

For that project, I had to bleach the bottles to be sure there was no residue of beer. For this project, I used both a bleach bath and also boiled them for sterilization with a few runs through the dishwasher in between each cleaning. It was probably overkill but where it was going to hold food I wanted to be sure they were sanitized.  

Once my bottles were prepped and ready, it was time to work on my jar labels.

The first step when working with Shrinky Dinks is to sand the plastic so that it will take your ink and other design elements. I happened to have sheets of plastic already sanded and ready to go.

I created my designs in Canva. This versatile software is user friendly and you can create designs with ease. I’ve been using their free version for a long time. For this project, I wanted a simple label design. When I was happy with the design, I downloaded the images and put them into a word document and then printed them out on the Shrinky Dink paper. They printed out fairly clean although in order to get them to go to the printer without jamming I had to tape them to a full size sheet of paper and I didn’t leave enough space so some of the image printed on the tape instead of the plastic. Fortunately, I was able to salvage the designs. I cut around the images and punched a hole in the top. I baked them in the oven at 325 degrees for about 4-5 minutes. As soon as they come out of the oven, I used a spatula to flatten them. They looked good but I wasn’t sure if they were right for this project.

It was time to experiment.

I also had some black plastic shrink paper that I had never used, although I had already sanded and prepped a sheet. I stamped some designs on the plastic using gold ink. I liked the look but unfortunately, after shrinking them, I realized too late that the ink didn’t fully dry even after baking.

It was time for round two with the black plastic.

The stamped designs I used in the first round I really liked so I did the same designs again but added embossing powder to the stamped images before baking them. When I took them out of the oven and started to flatten them, some of the embossed images came off so I stopped touching them and let them dry and harden fully. Once I did that the embossing stayed on the plastic and looked really great. They didn’t have as much detail as the non embossed images but I really liked the finished look. I did a final round to replace the ones where the embossing had come off. Once done, one of my larger images didn’t look quite as nice as the others so I added a little mod podge to brighten it up. I think a little extra powder had gotten onto the plastic making it a little dull. The mod podge worked to even out the look.

When in doubt, throw some mod podge on it.

Now that I’ve become disillusioned with my glitter theory (see:  Inspirational mason jar filled with my post pandemic bucket list) this should be my new crafting motto. 

Once I was committed to the black Shrinky Dink tags I had created, it started driving the rest of the project. I went back into Canva and picked out some Art Deco templates and redid my labels. This helped aligned the labels more closely with the Shrinky Dink tags. They had the same black and gold color scheme and that Art Deco vibe.

While I was prepping my jar labels, my husband was happily creating some new shrubs. While I originally started this project to label the jars of syrup we already had on hand, he was all in with creating some new bar mixers.

The shrubs were super simple to make. You mix fruit and sugar and let the mixture sit for 2-3 days in the refrigerator until the juices come out. Next, you mix this syrup with vinegar and any spices you want to add, before straining out any remaining fruit pulp. Voila, you have a shrub. Or, in our case, we had three shrubs.

We poured his creations into the new, extremely well sanitized, bottles. I printed my art deco labels onto cardstock and ran them through my Xyron Sticker Maker using the laminate sticker cartridge to add some protection. I will not go into details but this simple step took me about five tries between printing mishaps and laminating issues. 

I added the laminated labels to the bottles and attached my Shrinky Dink embellishments. We put the bottles on the top shelf of the bar where they add a sophisticated touch. They’re a great addition to our bar even if I’m still stuck with the original random jars I was trying to upgrade. My husband will just have to drink faster.

I included all of the wrong turns and mistakes made during this project in this post. I didn’t want to edit those out leaving just the stuff that worked. I think it’s important to recognize that creative projects don’t always go smoothly. In fact, they rarely do. For this project, I hit some bumps and the final outcome was the opposite of what was in my head when I started but that’s just the direction this one took. I’m glad it did. 

I love a little jazzy Art Deco vibe in a space. 

Have you ever heard of a shrub?

I’m participating in a Blogging A-Z Challenge for April 2021. I will be posting new content every day this month except most Sundays. Each post is associated with a letter of the alphabet, starting with A and ending with Z. My theme for the challenge is Craft Projects for my Home. To read more of my A to Z posts from this year, click HERE.

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24 thoughts on “#AtoZChallenge | Jazzy art deco labels for my husband’s homemade shrubs

  1. Crackerberries says:

    Hello and I have never heard of a shrub… what kind of drinks are made with shrubs? I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE the bar idea. ( I may have to copy ) I love how the project that you started took different route too… that is true about a lot of things isn’t it?
    Have a great day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. galeriaredelius says:

    Great work, and what a patience to go through so many different steps! I recognise what you say about creative work, that it sometimes takes on its own direction, different from what we first thought. So doing things and moving forward is always better than just ‘thinking’ about what to do or what you want something to look like. I can imagine it feels great to have all this in place now, with such nice labels!


  3. lindafibergal says:

    You are on fire with projects. So glad you are sharing! We LOVE shrubs. Always have a blueberry & lemon lime in the fridge. Your labels are great. I’m drawn to the black & gold combination.


  4. Alana Mautone says:

    We have a “made in New York” store a few miles from us which sells several types of shrubs – we have never tried any. I am in awe of those who can make things with their hands or who can walk into a thrift shop, buy something, and repurpose it.


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