Since that post and feature on my pantry, I have been trying to figure out a way to smudge proof my labels. There have been some fantastic suggestions and ideas I've put to use. Packing tape? Works pretty darn well, but then your labels look glossy, and well, like they've got packing tape on them. Laminate them? Been there, done that. It works, but again, I'm not a huge fan of the finished look, and it's very time consuming (well, my "cheater" version anyway). Mod podge? Haven't tried it, but I'm worried the ink would smudge and that it would dry funny. My best advice until now for people overly concerned with protecting their labels has been to print them out on weatherproof mailing labels. That said, full page weatherproof labels aren't cheap, AND you need to use a laser printer, which generally means you have to go to the print shop to print your labels (unless you're super cool and have a laser printer at home).
Determined to find a solution, I was excited to happen upon this Krylon Low Odour Clear Matte Finish spray (ps- no affiliation with Krylon here). The can said it would be good for protecting paper crafts and photographs. Score! I brought the $6.99 can home and went to town on a batch of new labels I'll be rolling out soon in the shop. I found the trick, like is the case with regular ol' spray paint, is thin, even coats. When I applied too much, I could see a bit of the black ink bleeding through, but if you do a nice thin coat, the ink will not bleed at all.
You can spray indoors, so I just used an empty shoe box, and although the odour isn't great, it isn't that bad either. I sprayed the labels BEFORE cutting the labels which prevents them from curling up. After drying overnight, I cut the labels out and put them in some book pages to further help them set flat.
The bonus to the finish? It actually DEEPENED the colour of my labels, which was a welcome side effect. Ink jet printers can't generally print in as vibrant of colours as laser, but this spray finish looks like it was printed on a laser.
Not to mention, it passed the smudge test. I wet my thumb under the tap and rubbed it on two labels, one protected with the spray, one not. As you can see in the photos below, the latter started to bleed almost immediately. Now, I wouldn't suggest running these labels under water or putting them in the dishwasher or anything, but they will certainly help protect against everyday sticky kitchen fingers and splatter from baking and cooking.
Above is the protected label after the wet thumb test. A couple spots of water did get through, however I think a third coat would have eliminated this entirely. Next time I'm definitely doing 3 coats!
This is the unprotected label after the wet thumb test. You can see the ink has run, not to mention the label is a much fainter colour. I definitely prefer the vibrancy of the protected labels.
What do you think?