Monday, July 13, 2015

DIY Sea Glass Vases

I'm fond of sea glass, 
so when I saw these beautiful vases at West Elm I knew I had to have one or two...

...until I saw the prices. The litty bitty bud vase is $25 -- the largest vase (still small) was $44.
It's amazing how quick I can become disenchanted when things are overpriced.

I was hopeful that I could find some sea glass vases for a better price, so I went to Hobby Lobby and found this selection on sale for 50% off. I bought the small one on the left for $12.50 on sale. Still, I wanted a better selection with different sizes and shapes of vases, so I decided to make some of my own. How hard could it be?

Let me state up front, that not all my ideas are good ones. What came next was a lot of trial and error and a bit of success.

Hobby Lobby is currently having their 90% off clearance sales right now, and, as luck would have it, there was a variety of glass vases for the taking! So, I bought a couple of large vases for about $2 each.

They might look small in the photo above, but they are actually much larger than the ones for sale at West Elm or Hobby Lobby. I also picked up the vases below for pennies, and they were already slightly tinted. So far, so good.

I began by looking up "how to make sea glass vases" on the internet and Pinterest, but I came up with very little. There is a Martha Stewart product out there, but you have to paint it on, and I didn't think it would work well on the large vases I'd bought. There's a Mod Podge technique that sounds interesting. I might try that next time. I did a little more research and found a glass paint that dries transparent. That's just what I needed for the first phase of my project.

Vitrail paint, by Pebeo, is a solvent based, transparent paint commonly used for stained glass creations. The paint dries to a hard surface and is resistance to gentle washing. I bought several colors of this paint and went to work with high hopes.

  •  Glass vases, bottles, jars that have been thoroughly cleaned 
  • Vitrail, by Pebeo, glass paint {Hobby Lobby in Art Department, Regular price: $7.99. Use a 40% off coupon!}
  • 100% Acetone Nail Polish Remover
Instead of painting the outside, I decided to stain the inside of the vase. The size of your glass vase will determine how much paint you use. Simply pour some paint into the bottom of your vase and add a half a cap-full of acetone {100% acetone nail polish remover}. Mix the solution together -- adding a little more acetone or paint if needed. The idea is to leave the paint as thick as possible, but make it thin enough to coat the inside of the glass vase. Swirl the combined mixture around the entire interior of the vase until it is thoroughly coated. Turn the vase upside down and let the excess paint drip out of the vase. This solution can be put back into the paint container and used again on another vase. If necessary dip a cotton swab into the acetone and clean excess paint from the top of the vase. Don't be concerned if the paint looks opaque or cloudy. When the paint dries completely, it will be come transparent and have a glass-like finish. This technique worked beautifully on two of the vases {see one below}..

...and failed miserably on two more...

Back to the drawing board. I'm still not sure what happened, but I think the last two vases had some texture on the inside of the vase which didn't allow the paint to coat the glass thoroughly. That's my best guess. Fortunately, the Vitrail paint is solvent based, so the next morning I dumped a container of Acetone Nail Polish remover inside those two vases which dissolved the paint and cleaned them out lickity-split. I decided it's much, much easier to buy glass that is slightly tinted to begin with!

In the meantime, I'd come across a much easier and less expensive technique to help make the vases look a little more like sea glass. Simply spray the outside of the vase with a frosted glass spray. Do a little at a time and add more frosting if necessary.

When the glass frosting has dried, lightly spray a little flat white spray paint onto the glass.

A little of the white paint will go a long way.

Those two methods (glass frosting and white spray paint) will work together to give your vases a sea glass look, especially if the glass vase is already tinted.

These vases are going in my newly painted laundry room. They'll find a home on the top of the cupboards above the sink.