125: Spice Rack Labels

Our spice rack almost had more holes than jars.

This is just one of those things you buy—or are given—when you’re moving into your first place. You’ve got your own kitchen now, right? Well, you’re gonna need to get your own spices, and you probably should have a place to put ’em, eh? Well, like a lot of folks, Jen and I killed two birds with one stone and bought a collection of spices in their own handy rack from some brick-and-mortar somewhere—I’m sure Martha Stewart was involved. Twenty different spices in twenty identical glass jars, all with their names printed on poorly molded black-and-faux-chrome sprinkle caps.

Middling construction quality aside, there are a few different problems you can run into with a pre-set spice collection like this one. It’s pretty likely you won’t use all twenty spices with any regularity. You’ll probably also have other spices from other sources that you’re just going to have to keep somewhere else, because there’s no room for any immigrant spices on this steel rack here no sir. Maybe you’ll do like we did and press a little paper Avery label over our gutted caraway jar, trying to reassure the world that it did actually contain smoked paprika. Even an Avery label (here marked “onion”) is just too small to hide the original “italian seasoning” text, and like most cheap paper labels, the adhesive just hasn’t put up with kitchen abuse very well.

Avery labels do not an aesthetic make.

Over time, our spice rack ended up with a half-dozen of those tiny labels, and as many gaps with no jar at all because we’d never gotten around to replacing the unused spices. But that’s it! No more! Much like the remote control relabeling I performed when I installed a new audio receiver, I was going to engrave some super-thin 2-ply plastic called LaserLights to relabeled these spice jars for good! Jennifer gave me a list of which spices we were going to drop and what to put in their place. List in hand, all I had to do was design a label shape that would fit more properly on the cap than those rectangular paper labels.

The sheet of labels, kiss-cut and ready to affix.

I started by taking some measurements of the portion of the cap I’d be affixing the label to. Measuring the length and width in a few spots let me approximate the cap’s curve, and I only had to make one adjustment after the first prototype before the curve was close enough for my eyes. For the label design, I settled on two typefaces from the Adorn family, and put together a simple filigree border based on the same collection’s ornamentation options.

All jars out for labeling!

After a thorough cleaning of the rack and jars (as it turns out, spice racks that live near stoves can get kind of filthy over the years), all that was left was engraving and affixing! The labels were arranged in a simple grid, and the cut was just light enough (a “kiss” cut) that I was able to peel the stickers off the whole sheet directly. Some careful alignment was in order, and the new spice rack labels were complete!

A close-up of some of the labels.

In hindsight, I should have used the more condensed typeface in a few more spots to denote prefix text that would not be used for the alphabetized spice layout. Minced Garlic, or Rubbed Sage, were sorted as G and S respectively, but I did not format the verbs like I did Crushed Red Pepper and Ground Cayenne Pepper. Oh, and I just noticed that I sorted Smoked Paprika as S instead of P, and didn’t condense the Smoked type properly either. Ugh, I’m just going to have to redo all of it now. Just kidding.

The complete spice rack, bright and shiny and new.

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