January 22, 2014 by Karen Kvam
I absolutely love glass bottles. They’re so pretty, and come in so many shapes and proportions. I knew I wanted lots of flowers in several colors and varieties at the wedding, but also wanted a unifying theme and not to break the bank.
So for our wedding, P. and I – with the help of some of our family and friends – collected over a hundred glass beer, wine, champagne, kombucha, liquor, soda, and ginger beer bottles. We even collected a few glass pasta sauce jars. You name it, if it was glass and in bottle/jar form, we collected it.
We then spray painted the bottles in a deep cobalt blue and had our wonderful florist fill ‘em up with our flowers and set them up on the big day. When the party was over, our guests got to take the ‘vases’ and flowers home with them! It was a big hit.
Coloring the bottles was surprisingly easy. Some posts I had read online said that you need to sand the bottles down, use a primer, and then spray the bottles with a sealant once you’re done painting. Baloney! I tried this technique on a couple of bottles, and they didn’t look so good. Instead, P. and I ended up using a super easy technique to spray paint all the bottles, which looked gorgeous and held up really well.
We also experimented with a few different spray paints, and ended up going with the cheapest and simplest gloss spray we found.. it was around $2 per aerosol can, and each spray paint can lasted us 2 coats on 7-10 bottles (depending on the size and original color of the bottles).
The two hardest parts of this project were: a)taking off the labels and goo, and b)having to store all the bottles in our apartment for so long.
Without further ado, here’s how you can create your own painted bottles:
- Remove the labels from your bottles and get rid of the leftover sticker goo.
- Set up a spray painting area in a well-ventilated space (e.g. outdoors, or in your garage with the door open). Cover the workspace in lots of newspapers and/or cardboard.
- Shake your newly opened spray can for 2 minutes.. the longer you shake it the more evenly the color will come out. It’s the workout portion of the DIY!
- Do a test spray on your newspaper/cardboard to make sure you’re good to go and that the color is coming out evenly.
- Start spraying away from the glass bottle, and use even circular motions to spray from the top to the bottom and around each bottle. If you start spraying on the bottle, you won’t have as even a texture. Try to spray about a foot away from the bottle so that the coat doesn’t come on too thick.
- Wait 2-5 minutes and spray the bottle with a second coat of spray paint.
- Let the bottle dry for at least an hour before touching it/moving it.
- Display it or pack it.. you’re done!
TIPS FOR CLEANING THE BOTTLES:
Scraping off the labels and cleaning off the glue were the hardest and most time-consuming parts for me, as I didn’t have a dishwasher at the time. Apparently if you have a dishwasher, you can run the bottles in the dishwasher, and many of the labels will come right off. Lucky you!
If you don’t have a dishwasher, soak the bottles in hot, soapy water for at least an hour. While each bottle is still wet, use a dull old knife you no longer care about and the rough side of a sponge to help scrape off the labels.
Once you’ve taken off all the labels in your batch of bottles, soak a rag in GooGone or a similar degreaser, and get all the sticky residue off all the bottles.
Once the bottles are all clear of stickers and goo, scrub them with hot soapy water. You need to make sure to clean off all the GooGone residue and that the bottles are 100% dry, or else the spray paint won’t evenly coat the bottles.
- Cover a bigger work area than you think you’ll actually need with cardboard/newspaper. We ended up having to power wash the balcony we were spraying on because we didn’t realize the edges around our cardboard were slowly turning blue. Oops!
- If you’re spray painting a lot of bottles (like we did) consider wearing a mask while spraying – even if you’re spraying outside. We didn’t wear masks, and both discovered blue boogers for a couple of days.. I felt very ladylike and healthy I can assure you.
- Get empty boxes with separators to safely store your bottles for free from your local grocery store or BevMo. Just ask!
- If you want an airbrushed quality to your bottles, make sure to spray with very thin coats of spray paint.
- If you want more of an almost acrylic quality to your bottles (we ended up preferring this style) use slightly heavier coats of spray paint.
- This method only paints the outside of the bottle, so you can fill the bottle with water as needed to keep your flowers alive, just be careful not to get the outside too wet as it won’t hold up much if you do so.
- These bottles are pretty hardy, but will scratch if you’re not careful. We wrapped them up in rags and put them in boxes for transport, and they all arrived looking great!
- These bottles are not dishwasher safe once you spray paint them.
There are lots more great projects you can make with spray painting glass… for some more ideas, the Madigan Made blog has some great tutorials.
What spray painting projects are you going to try next?
Photos courtesy of Mirelle Carmichael & Rafael Weinstein