Darling DIY: Nautical Sea Glass Bottles

As the weather gets warmer, and thoughts of the beach turn into full-on fantasies about sun and salt, I went looking for a way to capture that seaside feeling in my decidedly landlocked home. I needed some DIY inspiration and immediately fell in love with the Waterscape Collection at West Elm.

Sea glass is the product of discarded glass being tumbled in saltwater and sand for years, so naturally occuring pieces are more like pebbles and practically all of the vessels you can purchase have an artificial finish. There are several DIYs out there touting Mod Podge and food coloring, and while these pieces are cheap and relatively easy to make, they come with some problems: the finish scratches off easily and isn't remotely waterproof, a real issue if you want to use fresh flowers or keep the pieces around for a while. But never fear! This simple process uses a permanent lacquer that will leave you with lasting pieces that you can display at your wedding and in your home for years to come.

The Materials

DIY Sea Glass Materials

-Glass, any glass! Whether you're upcycling an empty bottle or transforming a set of votive holders, this process works on any type of glass you want to dress up.
-Pebeo Vitrail Lightening Medium
-Pebeo Vitrail in your selected color (For this project I'm using Greengold.)
-Baking soda
-Foam brush
-Porous craft sponge
-Small dish for mixing
-Optional: Twine, jute or rope for embellishment

Step One

Mixing your color may take a little experimentation. In general, about two parts lightening medium to one part color and baking soda is the perfect combination for mid-range tones. Bear in mind that darker shades like blue and purple will require less color while pink or yellow may need more. Try using a paper plate or a clear plastic cup for a test smear to get your color just right. For two 5"x3"x3" rectangular bottles, 1/2 Tbsp of medium and 1/4 Tbsp of color and baking soda each provided two coats per bottle.

Step Two

DIY Sea Glass Bottle

Hold the glass with your finger (or hand, depending on the piece) inside to prevent smudging the paint. You may want to wear gloves; Vitrail is difficult to scrub off of you skin.

DIY Sea Glass Paint Coat

Using the foam brush, dab (don't brush) the paint mixture in a thin coat all over your glass. There will be small bubbles in the paint which is normal and adds to the final finish of your sea glass.

Step Three

DIY Sea Glass Sponge

Pour a small amount of baking soda onto your sponge and use your finger to rub it into the holes. I like to use my thumb and middle finger to hold the sponge while tapping with my index finger to cover the paint in a thin layer of powder, similar to sifting flour. Once the entire piece is coated in baking soda, use short, very light strokes to brush off the excess. The paint will still be wet (which is necessary to get the baking soda to adhere), so rubbing can smudge the finish. If you want a deeper or more opaque color, steps two and three can be repeated immediately or after the first coat is dry.

DIY Sea Glass Sheen

The Vitrail will be dry in about two hours and ready to handle and add any embellishments like wrapped twine or seashells. The final finish has a weathered, frosted look and using baking soda gives it a very subtle sheen with just a hint of sparkle. 

DIY Sea Glass Tutorial

You can cluster mismatched bottles and vases to create an eclectic centerpiece or mix individual pieces with candles and driftwood to create a beach-inspired tablescape at your wedding, then incorporate them into your home decor once the gifts are open and the leftover champagne is gone. We love decorations that serve a dual purpose and these simple glass pieces certainly fit the bill!

Have you tried this project? We'd love to see the results in the comments! As always, if you need a confidence boost or an extra set of hands to tackle your wedding day projects, contact us for more information on DIY assistance.


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