Thursday, March 28, 2013

Make-Something-Monday: DIY "Sea glass" bottles

Update/Disclaimer: I have been getting a lot of views of this post, probably since folks think they might actually get instructions on how to make the very bright and pretty mason jars seen in the image going around the 'net. I never could get the original link to work, and I'm fairly certain that those jars were manufactured, not a D.I.Y. project. Correct me if I'm wrong, and enjoy our project!



A friend had pinned an image with a caption that claimed a how-to for making jars look like "sea glass" using Elmer's Glue and food coloring. As luck would have it, the link didn't work - the server (or whatever fancy website-blocking software) here at school blocked it. I should probably be thankful, since it very well could be a bogus, porn/virus-filled link, despite the really pretty jars. But if you've seen this pin, and the link works, let me know. Maybe it's legit (or possibly even too legit to quit).
 LEFT: the alleged "sea glass" jars        RIGHT: the "sea glass" jars we made
      circulating the world of Pinterest             after reading several how-to's

So I went to the Google and did a little search, and of course came up with a ton of hits. There are a lot of crafty blogs linking this idea. Most of the pics look less like "sea glass" - which I picture as being somewhat frosted in appearance - and more like colored/tinted glass. Creative nonetheless.

As for the actual project, the how-to varied greatly. Some blogs suggested modge podge as the base, others glue; some recommended adding a little water, some a little dish soap; some were particular to food coloring in gel form, others weren't specific - another suggested using acrylic paint to add color. Some said to bake the jars at low heat, others said to let the jars air dry for a day or so. About half suggested coloring the jars from the inside, the other half suggested paining the outside using a foam brush. And of course, there were a mass of mixed results. So goes the world of DIY!

The other evening (Friday, not Monday - but we're still going to call this a make-something-monday) I hung out with my sister and we decided to try this out on some empty jars and bottles. She went with the interior coating, I went with exterior. Excuse the lack of progression pictures, we were too busy crafting! For now, just use your imagination.

Nearly all of the how-to's called for pretty much the same materials, so here are our ingredients:
  • Modge Podge, matte finish (it's all I had, but it may be the key to the frosted finish)
  • Food coloring, regular old liquid drops
  • A bit of water
  • Empty containers/food trays for mixing and draining
  • Paint brushes (regular and foamy)
We weren't really concerned with exact proportions, because that would eliminate the element of fun, but we probably used about 2-3 tablespoons of modge podge and a few drops of whatever colors we wanted. And by 2-3 tablespoons I mean that we poured the modge podge in a container until it seemed like enough. Because enough is often just the right amount.


Interior coating
G's trio, looking sea-glassy
G mixed the modge podge, her chosen colors, and a little water in a container, then poured the mixture in her jar. She then swirled the jar around to completely coat the inside. The jars were set upside down on trays to drain the excess. After a majority of the excess mixture had drained, I rigged the jars up in a deconstructed milk jug to allow the air to circulate and dry the jars faster. And to keep the jars from drying onto the newspaper covering our work space (aka, her kitchen table). Another blog showed the jars being balanced on top of those plastic baskets that strawberries come in so but that seemed as though it would be a bit wobbly, and we didn't have any. Customized milk-jug racks are so much better, trust me. You can see that the rims of her jars are a bit darker - probably from the excess mixture building up as it drains.

Exterior coating
my trio, looking streaky and sea-glassy
(and slightly out of focus. we won't complain)
I mixed the modge podge and my chosen colors, then used a foam paint brush to paint the mixture on the outside of my jars & bottles. I went over each jar/bottle a couple of times, mostly so I wouldn't waste the mixture, and it definitely ended up a little thicker in some areas, but not drippy. As it dried, it was definitely revealing a bit of the frosted sea-glass effect, although streaky. One issue, as you can see, is that I neglected to paint the rims of mine. Oops. And for no other reason than I was holding on to the bottles from the tops whilst painting. Next time I'd touch them up after finishing the bottle part. (We'll ignore the other issue - that I hadn't gotten all the label stickum off before I brought them to G's and the bag I had them in had Zoe-hair in it. . . which stuck to the bottle. . . and subsequently got painted on to it, too. Dang dog hair gets everywhere).

All-in-all I'd call this a success. I think the trick here was the matte-finish modge podge, "matte" being a fancy term for "not-shiny" - which we all know good sea glass is. As I mentioned earlier, a lot of the blogs we looked at had jars that ended up with more of a tinted-glass appearance that wasn't so frosted. If you're going for that tinted glass look (like the antique ball jars, etc.) then I would recommend using regular modge podge, or trying the Elmer's glue route. But if you're going for a frosted sea-glass look, I'd go with the matte-finish modge podge. And from the picture, you can't even tell which method we each used.

Keep in mind, though, if your intention is to fill the jar with a liquid you might want to apply the coloring to the outside, since modge podge and Elmer's glue are water-based. If you just want a cool-looking jar for non-liquid storing purposes, you could go with either method. Or, heck, use both methods on one jar! In different colors! Go crazy!

nothing like the alleged "sea glass" jars,
but pretty darn cool looking
As for the image on the pin? My hunch is that the jars have some sort of paint finish that's more than just glue and food coloring. They're definitely cool looking, but a lot more opaque than one could probably manage regardless of the layering of modge podge or glue attempted. Unless somehow you could manage to get the entire jar or bottle to have the dark build-up of color like you can see on G's openings.

As lovely as these are, and as easy as this was to do (definitely on the to-do-again list), nothing beats true sea glass, lovingly prepared by mother nature: the sea, the rocks, and a little bit of time.
sea glass beach, fort bragg, CA

27 comments:

  1. Thanks for trying this out! Great to see ALL the instructions. :)

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  2. Hi Lina, thanks for stopping by!

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  3. Add a drop pf dawn soap to the glue...it will frost it.

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    1. Hi Liz, thanks for the tip - we'll have to try that next time.

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  4. This is an awesome idea - thanks

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    1. Hopefully you had some luck and they came out nicely for you!

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  5. In model railroading we use "wet water" to settle terrain in. A drop of detergent makes the water spray soak in; the glue having been already applied.

    Maybe that means you can make "fuzzy" stuff as well.

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    1. Interesting - I'll have to explore that if we do it again.

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  6. All the ones I've looked at called for Elmers School Glue.

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    1. We looked at so many and they were about 50-50 in using either the glue or modgepodge. We happened to have modgepodge, but maybe we'll try the glue next time!

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  7. Also try using more than 1 coat of the mixture and a larger amount of coloring. :) Mine are turning out perfectly frosted!

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    1. Good idea, maybe we'll try that if we do these again.

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  8. Haha, I blogged on this exact thing from this exact pin. The link actually takes you to an Etsy shop that sells them and describes them thusly: "Each jar is hand painted with long lasting durable oven fired specialty paint. This paint is designed specifically for glass. These are dishwasher safe and will last for years to come." So, I don't know where the pinner got the Elmer's glue instructions.

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    1. Nice!! And thanks for the input on the original source. I hadn't searched very thoroughly for source of the pic even though I was very suspect on the magical powers they seemed to have with Elmer's glue. Such is the world of DIY on Pinterest!

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  9. So glad I found your blog. Whether I ever get off of the Internet long enough to actually do anything, I love your ideas and how you shared them! :)

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  10. There is a crystal coating made specifically for glass and there are new neon colors of food coloring. She may have used Wilton Cake colors as they are very vibrant. I will try this and see what happens.

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  11. I found this on the internet. I haven't tried it but this person used something different than food coloring. Maybe it will help

    clean, clear mason jars
    food coloring (Wilton icing gels)
    school glue
    water
    foam paint brush

    Fran

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    1. We looked at a lot of different instructions - these materials look like what some of the other projects used as well.

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  12. Im working on something like these jars....How do I put a picture in here.....and I will show you mine....I have been working two weeks on mine to get them a light frosted color....I looked up diy mason to get some hints to help me out...and came across your blog.....Please email me to let me know how to post a picture. My email is kimcronic1968@gmail.com

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    1. Hi Kim, I'm not sure it's possible to add a picture to a comment. Glad you're trying the project out and I'm sure your jars are coming out great - especially with the time you're spending on them!

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  13. I got clear vases at the 99¢ Only Store for...well...99¢. Two small ones came as a pair so 55¢ each!

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  14. If you use straight glue and food coloring (no water), the color is more opaque. I can't post a pic here, but that is what I've been doing and I love the look.

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  15. Try elmers glue and food clor o m g sooooo nice cant wait to do more.

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  16. Is this permanent? I am trying to permanently color wine glasses.

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    1. I can't speak to the permanence of this method because we never washed the jars - they were intended to be decorative pieces. If you're handwashing the glasses, you're probably going to be more gentle on the coloring than a dishwasher would be. Maybe practice on a cheap dollar store wine glass to start?
      There may be a craft product out there that is designed to permanently color glass - I haven't looked very closely, but it's worth a google search or to.
      Good luck!

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  17. If you want to make it permanent, spray with several layers of clear coat.

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