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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Beach Glass Candleholder

Here's a quick and cheap way to make a beautiful candleholder to show off your beach glass collection! You could also use glass marbles or other translucent collectibles, as long at they are fireproof!

You'll need two clear glass bottles or jars, one about twice the diameter of the other, and both of similar height.  Miss Ginger used two wine bottles (of course!), a magnum and a standard 750 bottle.  She cut the tops off of both, making the smaller bottle just a tad shorter so they would be the same height with the smaller bottle inside the larger one.

Use a drop of epoxy to glue the bottom of the smaller bottle to the larger one, making sure to center it carefully, leaving about 1/2" gap between the bottles all around.

Once the epoxy sets, start dropping the beach glass in between the 2 bottles, alternating smaller and larger pieces. You can make it all multicolored, or a single color, or layer the colors- it's art! Let your imagination run wild!

Once complete, drop in a candle, and you'll have a beachside fire to enjoy, right in the comfort of your living room! 

Homemade "Beach Glass"

Perhaps Mother Nature's original "up cycle", beach glass is the result of water, sand, and friction on discarded bottles and jars, creating a beautiful, gem-like nugget that is often collected by jewelers, crafters, and lovers of the sea.  The Pisces in Miss Ginger makes her adore all things oceanic, and beach glass is no exception. 

It takes Mother Nature years to grind glass down into choice nuggets, and she disperses them so expertly that finding them is not so easy. Miss G is not a big fan of sand in her swimsuit, so she avoids the beach like the plague.  In her mind, swimsuits should be worn for competition only! 
No, not that kind of competition! 

This is the kind of competition that would get Miss Ginger into a swimsuit... but don't you love the way she worked in that shirtless picture of Michael Phelps?!

ANYWAY, you can create your own beach glass, right at home, with very little effort and not much investment!

You will need a rock tumbler, and you may even have one in your attic and garage from when you were a kid.  You can get dinky little toy ones at a craft store, but you can buy a substantial one like this for about the same price at Harbor Freight Tools. $40 bucks will get you going, and the only other things you'll need are glass shards, coarse garden sand, and a little water.
Miss Ginger saves all the broken pieces from her failed attempts at other projects, and picks out the most interesting shapes and colors to load into the tumbler.  She puts about an inch of sand in the bottom of the barrel, fills it about halfway up with glass shards, and then adds just enough water to cover the glass. You want to leave enough room for it to slosh around.  Screw the lid on tight, set it on the base, turn it on, and come back in 3-4 days. It's that easy!

After about 3 days, stop the tumbler and pull out a piece or two to see if they are "beachy" enough.  If they aren't, just put the lid back on and let them keep tumbling for a day or two more.  If they are, use an old colander to drain and rinse the pieces completely.  Do this in the yard, with a garden hose. Whatever you do, DO NOT put the used sand or resulting slurry in the drain! Trust me on this- if you do, you will end up with a clog in your sewer line (sometimes a year or two down the road) that will take excavation to fix!

For your patience, you will be rewarded with smooth, translucent pieces with rounded edges.  Nature's beauty, in less than a week- and no sand in your ass, either!!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Upcycled Bottle Chandelier

Okay, maybe "chandelier" is a bit grand, considering that nothing really dangles, but "Upcycled Sculptural Light Fixture" seemed like an awkward title...

Anyho, Miss Ginger is pretty proud of this one! She's had the idea rattling around in her mind for a while, and finally had the holy trinity of idea, materials, and time come together.

It's easy to find a million ways to upcyle the bottoms of glass bottles, as they can be turned into all sorts of glasses, candleholders, or other vessels. The tops, however, are more problematic.  Miss Ginger saved them at first simply because she was determined to keep them out of the waste stream, but she initially had no idea what to do with them.  The world only needs so many wind chimes. After making  plethora of glasses and candleholders, the suckers were beginning to pile up!

The trick to this upcycle is getting the correct adhesive. Glass is slick and non-porous, so sticking it together can be tricky. Not only does the adhesive have to hold the glass pieces together, invisibly, it also has to hold them solidly enough to support the weight of the structure. Glass is heavy! Superglue, hot glue, white glue, construction adhesive- all fail on some part of the test or another.

Epoxy is the only adhesive that will successfully adhere glass and support it's weight. Most epoxies are a pain in the ass to use, as they require mixing in just the right proportions.  Loctite Instant Mix 5-minute Epoxy is the perfect combination of strength and open time for this project, and is readily available at Lowes or Home Depot. Plus, it comes with a self-mixing syringe thingy that dispenses the adhesive and the hardener in just the right proportions! And, it dries to a transparent "yellowish clear" that totally disappears on green bottles!
Because glass is so slick, even epoxy can't reliably stick to the smooth surface.  To solve that problem, Miss G used a rotary tool with a diamond burr to scuff up the glass everywhere there was a joint. 
The first "layer" was pretty straightforward, with a healthy dab of epoxy at each side joint, and again where the necks touched.  The epoxy dries to full strength overnight, but it only takes about 20 minutes for it to harden solidly enough to continue with the next layer.
Adding the subsequent layers was only a little bit tricky due to the angles of the bottles. Miss Ginger used a Sharpie to mark the points where the bottles touched, dry fitting, marking, scuffing, and gluing each bottle one at a time.  It sounds tedious but it really went quickly. 

As the angle became steeper on the 3rd and 4th layers, Miss G used clamps to hold the bottles in place until the epoxy had set enough to hold on its own.  After 4 layers were glued up in this manner, Miss Ginger let the epoxy set overnight before she tried to move  or turn the structure.
The next day, Miss Ginger flipped the entire thing over and added one last layer to the other side of the initial layer.  This will form the top of the fixture, so she added a chain circle around the neck of every 4th bottle, to distribute the weight when the fixture hangs. She wanted to use the fixture outdoors, so she bought a weatherproof floodlamp holder  and used binder rings to center it on the chain, just above the bottles, so the light would catch the neck of the bottles as it shines down. 
Around this, she added a glass tile  to conceal the "inner workings".
Miss Ginger is a strong girl, but she needed help to hoist this sucker into position- it weighs a ton, and it's awkward to hold.  If you use it indoors, you will need to make sure to hang it from a large eye-bolt screwed directly into a ceiling joist.  Outdoors, just loop a chain around a strong tree-branch, or hang it from an eave or soffit.

Miss Ginger loves it so much she's going to make another so she'll have a pair!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Glass Bottle Windchimes

Here's a quick and easy project that makes use of some of the bottle parts you may have laying around from other old projects!  You'll need 3 sizes of bottle tops and a bottle bottom (this is a magnum, a standard wine bottle, and a beer bottle. Don't judge!)  You'll also need a length of clock chain or other lightweight chain, a large washer, and some cotter pins- all available in the hardware aisle at Lowe's.

Using a diamond hole saw on a dremel tool, drill holes through the neck of each bottle near the end. It sounds intimidating, but drilling with one of these little bits is quick and easy- just remember to use the cutting oil that comes with the bit to preserve it's life.

Make the clapper for the smallest bottle by replacing a link of the chain with a large washer.  It's easy to open and close the links of chains with a couple of pairs of pliers.

Pass the chain through the neck of the smallest bottle, leaving enough chain on each side to center the washer in the middle of the bottle without touching the sides. Insert a large cotter pin through the bottle and the chain, coming out of on the other side of the bottle. use pliers to turn the legs of the pin back, and clip them close to the bottle.

Add the next 2 bottles in the same fashion, omitting the washer, since the bottles themselves will form the clappers. Add the bottle bottom to the bottom of the chain to catch the wind; if breezes in your area are light, replace the bottle bottom with a diamond shape piece of wood, about 5" by 5", to catch more wind.

Now just hang it in a breezy spot and enjoy!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Overdue Post: 50th Birthday Bash

This post is long overdue, but Miss Ginger and the local 'snaps did survive the 50th birthday celebration in New Orleans!  Here's what you missed:

Miss Ginger arrived to a bucket of champagne waiting in her room- what a great surprise! You see it on TV all the time, but it's never happened to Miss Ginger!  If you ever want to make someone's day's day- make it happen! Many thanks to my dear friends at Legacy Community Health Services for making a fantasy come to life!

First to arrive for the weekend were Boy G's brothers, who came from as far as Albuquerque to join the celebration.  I think both brothers were relieved to learn that Boy G had left Miss Ginger's drunk ass at home!

Ms. Sonna had planned the whole shindig, including selecting a FABULOUS suite at the Bourbon Orleans for the venue!  The bedroom was upstairs out of the way, and the living room and balcony overlooking Orleans Street was more than enough room for the catering and festivities.  She and Kaylynn also corroborated on a "This is Your Life" video, and Boy G is STILL wondering where she got some of those photos!  It was a touching tribute, as was the presence of friends and family from around the US who flew and drove from all over to join the party!  

Since that night, Miss Ginger has been keeping a close eye on her "check liver" light!  Whoever said that "50 is the new 40" has clearly lived a much cleaner life than Miss Ginger!  But start planning now, folks: if Miss Ginger can still draw a breath on her own, we'll repeat it in 2023 for her 60th birthday, and, hopefully, retirement party!


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