Crafting is near and dear to my heart and I realize that it is shamefully under represented here at The Apple Crate. So today I bring you a project that has long been in the making, recycled jars and bottles as vases! I have Martha Stewart to thank for the idea. She has a great tutorial on her website that I followed to make these.
Lots of people are out there doing something similar, with either spray paint or acrylic paint. But what I appreciated about the Martha Stewart version is that the paint is actually on the inside of the bottle, so it won't chip as easily, and it uses enamel paint so I can actually fill the vases with water.
I started out by collecting old bottles and jars; things I went through in the kitchen and saved rather than recycled. I even enlisted the help of some friends to speed the process up. These bottles once held everything under the sun: jam, olive oil, soy sauce, wine, spaghetti sauce, salsa, spices, etc.
The hardest part of this was actually cleaning all of the labels and sticky residue off! I know there are products out there to remove sticky residue, but I don't own any and I didn't want to go buy one. Surely, I thought, there must be something in the house that can be used. After a brief internet search I discovered there was. Vegetable oil. After peeling and washing as much of the label off with hot soapy water as possible, go back over the sticky remains with a vegetable oil soaked cloth and it will dissolve the rest. It's true! It's amazing! Try it. :)
The tutorial was a little vague on what kind of paint to use. It did specify enamel, and offered that it would be readily available at craft stores. Hmph. After searching the usual craft store suspects I found spray on enamel, model paint enamel (available in .25 oz. bottles, not so helpful), and a kind of enamel that seemed more for decorative painting on the outside of glass and had to be baked on. I tried hardware stores, too, but nothing seemed quite right. Then I found this paint at a local art supply store. It is actually for sign painting but it was enamel, didn't require a baking process, and was specifically for outdoor use so I knew it could hold water. It worked perfectly!
And here are my lovely jars and bottles! I used about half of the 8 oz. can of paint to cover all of these. The painting method I found to work for me was to spoon the paint into the jar with a plastic spoon, then swirl it around inside. For the first few I drained the excess paint back into the can, then laid them on paper towels to drain the rest of the way like the tutorial recommended. But that was super messy. Many of my bottles have narrow mouths and were too unstable to be left upside down to drain the rest of the way. So I just drained as much as I could back into the can and then set them upright to dry. The paint may be a little thicker on the bottom of mine, but it sure was a lot easier. One thing I would recommend is having some paint thinner on hand. Inevitably you are going to get smudges on the outside of the bottle or need to clean up around the mouth of the jar. And paint thinner makes cleaning those spots a breeze.
I was so excited to finally put some fresh flowers in and see how they looked. Aren't they gorgeous?!
My smallest bottle makes a sweet bud vase in the windowsill.
One of the great things about this project is how economical it is. The glass was free so all I bought was the paint. And just one bunch of mums filled all of my new vases! It really gives a lot of bang to your flower buying buck. I think these would look fantastic in a line down a dining room table as a centerpiece. Or just dispersed around the house to add fresh flowers in many little places. They would also be a great way to continue a color theme for a party or event.
I have more bottles that haven't been painted yet, and I am tempted to get another paint color and go to town on those as well. White, perhaps? Something that could be used for any holiday or color scheme. The only problem is where to put them all! I hope you give this a try. It really is easy and a bit addicting, too. It was so fun to see the bottles transformed after they were painted that it was hard to stop! :)