DIYdiy projects

diy project: kathy’s vintage milk bottle cap magnets

by Grace Bonney

[this fun diy idea comes from kathy beymer at merriment design. thanks to kathy for sharing it with us!]

I found a pile of buttermilk, chocolate milk and orange juice vintage bottle caps tucked away in a cardboard box in a lovely antique store in Savannah, Georgia. I thought, why not turn them into retro refrigerator magnets to show them off while making them useful once again?

Milk used to be carried and delivered in glass bottles starting in the late 1800s and cardboard caps like these capped the tops until around the mid 1950s. Dairies printed their names on the top of the cardboard caps to encourage return and reuse.
You can find your own vintage milk bottle caps on eBay from dairies all over – Indiana, Nebraska, New York, Quebec, California, and more. You can also find cardboard caps for cottage cheese, whipping cream, fruit punch and other treats as well as advertisements for ice cream and other items. I just love the graphic design and typography on these caps. My goal is to make things that are simple and useful, playful and clever. I think refrigerator magnets happily showcase these little vintage circles of art. –Kathy

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!


* Vintage milk bottle caps, preferably unused – I prefer the ones that are fully flat but they are also available with raised edges. I have 10 sets of my bottle caps for sale for those who prefer that style. Just email me at kathy@merrimentdesign.com
* 3/4″ round magnets
* Glue gun and glue sticks


1. Place a piece of paper down on your working surface. Using a hot glue gun, glue the magnet to the center of the cardboard milk cap back.

2. Press and hold. Allow to dry thoroughly before using; I waited a couple hours.

3. Using the Wink iPhone application from Shutterfly you can make super cute photobooth-esque strips from your photographs. I made some super cute B&W strips of Elise – one of her swinging in Wicker Park and another of her playing with her butterfly.

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  • Well look at that. I bought the same two milk caps at that store. Mine are in a frame together. I like your project though…makes me wish I picked up more.

  • i love this idea! can’t wait to do it. i’ve also make magnets out of a vintage wooden puzzle that was my brother’s. :) yay for magnet projects!
    how did you make the photo strip? is there a photoshop tut or template?

  • Kate, to make a photostrip download the Wink application or go to wink.shutterfly.com. They turn out really well. Enjoy!

  • These are wonderful! You’ve just inspired me to do something similar with some old soda bottle caps I’ve been saving. I didn’t know what I was saving them for, but this perfect.

  • In the UK we still have milk delivered by a milkman in glass bottles! I can see some of the dairy cows from my house (and I live on the outskirts of a town). I never understand why other countries changed to supermarket milk, it’s actually easier to have fresh milk delivered to your door every morning than to buy it in a shop!

  • We do the same thing with beer bottle caps. It’s fun “collecting” them and a nice visual reminder. Have I had that beer before? Why yes, I have.

  • I don’t know if it’s OK to do this so please delete this it’s innapropriate and accept my aplogies.

    I’ve been making coasters from these great dairy caps (as Nicodemus suggested). I was getting ready to post them on Etsy and stumbled across this site when I was researching good keywords.

    These magnets look great and now I’m totally absorbed in all your other posts and projects. What an amazing site and a wonderful find!

    Thanks very much.

  • Antique buttons are what we adorn our fridge with. You can find them… literally anywhere…. Thrift shops, goodwill, a jar of buttons from an antique shop, probably your parents/grandparents Junk drawer. Glue a magnet, and you’ll have an everlasting treasure. We give them as little Bday/Xmas presents. Also cool are old Subway & Bus tokens (prior the digital age of subway passes). dont forget about typewriter buttons, keyboard buttons & voter pins (i like ike) turned into magnets as well. Nothing like “enjoying you memorabelia daily” instead of keeping it in a drawer!

  • We were married at a dairy farm this summer and the art on my table cards was inspired by the art on antique bottle caps. I also considered using them on my escort cards but ran out of time. I love this idea though!

  • My grandfather is turning 90 and used to deliver milk from his family’s dairy farm back in the early 50s and before. We are going to make these as a party favor to pass out to family at his birthday in a few weeks. :) (We have caps from the family dairy farm.) I want to spray the bottle caps with a clear coating to make them more durable. Thoughts on what I might use? Thanks! These are darling!