My last post discussed craft projects on Pinterest that weren’t all they’re, um, cracked up to be. By rights I should have given up on such dubious DIYs, but I’m stubborn and determined to find solutions to creative conundrums. And I did promise to let you know how the “seaglass” painted jar project turned out, so I tried it yesterday.
Happily, I can give a thumbs up to this one! First off, though, the pin I looked at didn’t give a lot of information, just the ingredient proportions and minimal instructions. But the method – which is simple, quick and, best of all, inexpensive – worked fine, and I had all five containers completed and dry to the touch in about an hour. Although I didn’t get the finish perfect in a few small spots, I was delighted with the results! These semi-opaque, pastel-coloured vessels can have many uses: as candleholders, vases or pretty storage jars, grouped as beachy décor or table centerpieces, and embellished with shells, twine, etc. to give as gifts.
Look for glass containers such as Mason jars, bottles or vases at thrift or dollar stores. Foam paintbrushes can be purchased in bulk at dollar stores (much cheaper than craft stores). I recently found 2 oz. plastic “shot” cups at the supermarket and have been using them for paint projects; they’re perfect for mixing colours and can be washed out and reused forever.
Here’s the basic Pinterest method, expanded with a few tips and tricks of my own:
“Seaglass” Painted Jars
• clean, dry glass jar or bottle
• white glue (I used Elmer’s)
• food colouring (I used Club House 4-pack in red, yellow, blue and green)
• small paper or plastic cup
• stir stick (popsicle stick, coffee stirrer, drinking straw, bamboo skewer)
• foam paintbrush
1. Protect work surface with plastic, glass or something that drying glue won’t stick to. My worktable has a plastic desk protector that I got for about $5 from Ikea; it’s grippy on the underside and wipes clean with water.
2. In cup, thoroughly mix together 1 tsp glue, 1 ½ tsp water, and the food colouring (drop by drop until you get the colour you want; see below for my combinations). Use as few as 3 drops for the palest effect, up to 30 drops for more intense shades, and be careful: food colouring stains skin, fabric and other surfaces.
3. If possible, upend the glass jar over a prop such as a slim bottle so that your project is lifted off the table and can be rotated without touching as you paint – finger marks will mar the finish. (If necessary, stabilize by holding inside the rim.) If you don’t have this prop, just turn your project upside down on your non-stick work surface.
4. Brush the glue mixture onto the outside of the jar in an even layer. Try not to go over already-painted areas too much. The “paint” will look streaky at first but dries semi-opaque and smooth as, well, seaglass!
5. Any drips or glue that has pooled into nooks and crannies will dry a bit darker than the rest, but it won’t be that noticeable, so resist the urge to fiddle with these areas. The glue starts to dry pretty quickly and touch-ups are … touchy.
6. Avoid handling the project until the glue has completely dried and set.
Colours: The examples on Pinterest were pale blue, turquoise, green, pink, purple, yellow, orange, white (I presume just water and glue) and gold. (No explanation as to how they got the gold number. Do they make special food colouring in that hue?) Here are the formulas, in number of drops per colour, I used for each of my examples:
Seaglass: 5 green • Bottle Green: 16 green, 2 blue, 3 yellow, 1 red • Robin’s Egg: 3 blue, 2 green • Turquoise: 16 blue • Lavender: 4 blue, 4 red
Clean up: This is a very forgiving, water-based project. If you mess up or don’t like the colour, simply wash off the still-wet “paint” and start again! (Although I haven’t tried this, I bet you could soak in soap and water or use a product like Goo-Gone to remove the dried finish, after which you could paint with a different colour or reuse your jar for something else.) To preserve the finish, avoid hand- or dish-washing; wipe the inside of the jar clean.
For use as candleholder: Use battery-operated tealights or votives instead of real candles. (I don’t know what the heat generated by flame and melting wax would do to the glue finish.) Place light directly on the bottom of the container, or nestle in vase filler such as glass or stone pebbles or moss. For a beachy feel, I put sand in the jar and decorated the outside with natural jute twine and tiny shells.
For use as floral vase: When filling with water, try not to get the outside of the painted container wet.
For use as storage: First of all, I haven’t tried putting on the lids the jars came with, as I’m afraid of messing up the finish – I suspect it won’t hold up to much, if any, friction. Also, I wouldn’t recommend using these jars to store food (unless it’s something like individually-wrapped candy) because of the glue.
Other uses for this technique: Remember in my previous post how I struggled with marbleizing the inside of glass ornaments with acrylic paint? Well, I tried the glue method on a couple of clear glass balls, and it works! You don’t get quite the same wave-tumbled, matte effect because the glass is still shiny on the outside (you could, of course, paint the outside of the balls, but they won’t be as durable), but the pale, semi-transparent finish is lovely, and so quick to do. I did try using two colours for a marbled effect but they eventually ran together, which was okay, too!