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From salvaged to splendid...Bottles!

Not long ago we shared some ideas for making beach memory jars. I was originally inspired to create these after reading about Vintage Glass Bottles topped with Seashells on Completely Coastal blog.

We regularly see glass bottles littering the beach and we've been trying to figure out a way to use them in some other way than just tossing them into the recycling bin.... After inspiration struck I insisted we pick up those glass bottles and keep them for future craft projects. Our first day out we came home with a dozen and a half bottles of different shapes, sizes and colors to play with.

Salvaged bottles & rope from the Pacific Ocean
(Mg Rhoades© 2010)

First thing on our list (after getting some nifty shots of our salvaged collection) was to get them cleaned up. We soaked them in hot water with bleach & Dawn© liquid soap. After about an hour and a light scrub they were pretty darn clean. We pried off the lids and set the bottles outside to dry completely, both inside and out. We replace the lids once bottles had no moisture remaining inside.

Our decorated bottles are eye-catching and a true conversation piece.
(Mg Rhoades© 2010)

We decided to use the colored bottles first. It wouldn't really do any good to put sand and such inside as you'd either not be able to see it or it would detract from the beautiful hues of the glass.

A few simple items from the craft store
(Mg Rhoades© 2010)

Some necessary items:

Hot glue & gun
Tacky glue
Acrylic paints
Stiff bristle paint brush
Gloss varnish
Paper Bag
Shells in various sizes

Start your project by just jumping in! Each bottle is shaped differently so it's like piecing a puzzle together as to where to place the shells. There is absolutely no right or wrong way to complete these!

Lay bottle on side while working on neck
(Mg Rhoades© 2010)

I began by wrapping jute around the necks of the bottles...a dot of hot glue to hold jute, a bit of tacky glue under the wrapping area and a dot of hot glue to hold the end. Since the hot glue holds almost immediately your jute won't slip around while the tacky glue is drying. You can also paint all or part of the bottle and then do the wrapping, attaching shells and such.

Paint, shells, jute, wire, antiquing
(Mg Rhoades© 2010)

Next, I decided what to do with the top...once I selected a shell that looked right, I put a huge pool of hot glue onto the top of the lid and sat the shell into the pool (hold it for a minute or two while glue hardens). Using tiny shells, I covered the hot glue and base of topper shell and just kept adding until it looked the way I wanted.

Once your shells are attached and glue is dry then you may wish to dry brush** your seashells with a shade of paint which matches your bottle - once that has dried - dry brush a bit of shiny gold on them for an antique look. By using an interior gloss varnish over the shells it helps protect them as well as look fabulous!

Jute & shells antiqued & varnished.
(Mg Rhoades© 2010)

For a touch of whimsy, I made a "Time in a Bottle" tag for hanging on the green bottle. To make, simply cut out a rectangle from a paper bag, lightly crumple in your hand (if you wish), straighten out, write on it, hole punch and hang with jute and glue on a little seashell, if you wish.

Time in a Bottle
(Mg Rhoades© 2010)

Our first clear bottle was done the same way as above except we placed sand, shells, rocks and tiny driftwood into the bottle first. The sand and shells had been collected several years ago on the beautiful sandy beaches of Schoolhouse Beach (Sonoma State Parks, California). When we found a bottle with Teacher written into the glass we knew it was perfect for this project. A crumpled looking tag (with torn edges) on the bottle with the date & location of collection finishes it off.

Treasures & Sand from Schoolhouse Beach
(Mg Rhoades© 2010)

Neck & Lid of Clear Bottle
(Mg Rhoades© 2010)

A simple tag makes remembering special times easy
(Mg Rhoades© 2010)

Dry brushing is used to apply a lighter tint of paint to the raised areas on the seashells to produce a highlight.

How to: Dispense a tint of paint onto a palette, preferably a well so that most of the paint can be drawn out of the brush on the lip. Now most of the remaining paint has to be removed from the brush, use a lint free cloth or disposable kitchen towel, until it appears that there is no paint left on it, i.e. it is dry. (There will be some paint left in the bristles).

Now the brush is lightly drawn across the texture of the shells, depositing a small amount of paint on the raised areas. Build up the highlight in stages using successively lighter tints if necessary, with each tint applying the dry brush stage with less pressure until only the highest texture is being hit with paint. In general, the rougher the texture, the more paint can be applied in one pass.

Celebrating the Coastal Lifestyle


  1. I believe we are from the same gene pool, Marie, my love! Everything you created is just beautiful and full of those special, unique touches that I also enjoy implementing when in a crafty mood. Perhaps one bright, lazy afternoon or long weekend, we'll come together and get a chance to be crafty together! Until then, I'll continue to sigh, and 'ooh & ahh' at your creations. You brighten my day, always, sister!


  2. Ah, thank you my sweet friend. *hugs*

  3. Oh, I love, love these!!! And I'll be featuring this on Completely Coastal in the near future! Thanks so much for the link!

  4. Boxes of old bottles have been cluttering up the dining room for months and months to gild and solder. These look very nice. Thanks for sharing maybe I will try one.

  5. Amazing the beauty that can be found in something that someone else has cast aside!

    I wanted to let you know that I nominated your blog for the Sunshine Award. You can find out more here. Congrats!

  6. Hi! Love these - you would go crazy at the Alameda Market (this Sunday!) with all of the shapes and sizes of old beach-washed bottles. Very cool idea - makes me wish that I had my old workroom...

  7. What a truly inspiring idea, and great way to make use of these bottles. It's like bringing them back to alive, in the true context of their environment.

    I have a knack for keeping all my rubbish too for recycled craft projects, but no bottles as of yet. :)

  8. good for you! I saw these on Maya's blog, but haven't gotten to trying it out. great job.

  9. Love to reuse as much as I can. I've seen some amazing creations with drift wood too!! Thanks for sharing Sweetie....hugs,


    P.S. "If I could save time in a bottle. The first thing that I'd to do. Is to save everyday like treasure & then I would spend them with you!!" =D

  10. I love any project that involves keeping things out of the landfill. Bravo! They're beautiful!

    Thanks for visiting the cottage. I would love to have you join in on the fun weekly for my three linky parties.

    A new post will be up June 8th


    Hope to see ya there!
    Liz @ the Brambleberry Cottage

  11. Marvelous! I love the simple (crumpled and torn tag- love it!) to the ornate. Thanks for such a great idea.

  12. Hello

    I saw this idea in completely cosatal and I didn't understand at the time that it was your idea (excuse me I'm french and my english is ...poor !)
    So I would like to make a post on your idea and your blog in mine (beach and coastal deco)
    Thanks ...your blog is very nice !


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