I first discovered altered bottles on Pinterest and really loved them. The idea of recycling bottles that were heading to the landfill into something of beauty interested me.
I watched a few altered bottle tutorials on youtube and had to giggle to myself how simple they are to make. The trick is to create layers and textures which don’t need to be perfect in the least.
And some of the products you need to make these altered bottles can be found around your home. Because the bottle turned out so pretty I made it into a lamp for my home.
How to give a bottle a mixed media makeover
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Prepare the bottle
Most bottles will work for this project. My personal favourite bottle is the Jack Daniels bottle that I used to make this Game of Thrones lamp. In my opinion, the square base offers more stability once the lampshade is added. For this project, I use a Bailey’s bottle. After I had enjoyed all the Baileys of course. I like to use black gesso to prepare the bottles because it has always worked well for me.
Add some texture
A stencil and texture paste is a simple way to create texture to the bottle. I make all my stencils using a Cricut but they are cheap enough to buy. Hold the stencil around the bottle, then using a spatula add a layer of texture paste over the top of the stencil.
There is no need to try and make it look perfect, the imperfections give the bottle more character. Remove the stencil straight away, I scrape off the excess paste and put it back in the tub.
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Wash your stencil straight away, once dry the texture paste does not wash off. You can use a heat gun to speed up the drying time so, so you can carry on. Using different stencils I added more texture all around the bottle.
Painting the bottle
My personal choice was to add another layer of gesso now. The tutorials I watched painted everything in the end. I found it was too hard to get into all the nooks and crannies with everything glued on top.
To add some highlight to the texture I used bronze wax paste. Apply the wax paste with your finger, touch the wax paste and run it over the surface of the bottle. Don’t fill in the whole area because you will lose the effect. This step can be done at the end, I just find it easier to do it as I go along so I can see the outcome.
Add embellishments to the altered bottle
Over the years I have ordered so many items off Wish and Amazon, that was not as expected. They became handy for this project. You can use just about anything to decorate the bottle. Below are some of the items I used. Broken jewellery, onion sack, scraps of fabric and charms and twigs off my grapevine.
Glueing all the embellishments onto the bottle is the fun part. Any glue similar to E6000 will work for the majority of the items and hot glue for the heavier ones. Randomly glue all the elements on, if you are not happy with the look, add something on top.
The zipper was removed from an old pair of Denim jeans and glued onto the bottle. I glued steampunk charms to the inside of the zipper so it looks like the bottle is full of charms. A coat of black gesso was added to the charms ready for highlighting with the wax pastes.
Add flowers to the altered bottle
The flowers for the bottle were sprayed with shimmer spray and highlight with the bronze wax paste. They were glued onto the bottle with a hot glue gun. A little warning, wear gloves when using the shimmer spray. I didn’t and had to walk around looking like a smurf with my blue fingers for a few days.
An easy way to hold the bendable charms in place while the glue is drying is to use string to hold it in place. More colour was added to the bottle using homemade wax pastes and shimmer sprays.
Decorating the lampshade
The altered bottle then became a lamp. I recycled a broken lamp I had at home. The lampshade was white which did not go with the bottle. To change the colour I painted it black using gesso.
To add some character to the lampshade I added another zipper to the corner and added steampunk charms using E6000 glue.
A great method for filling the gaps is to use dried split peas. The zipper and the charms were then painted with the gesso and highlighted with the bronze paste the same as the bottle.
Cutting the hole in the bottle
There are a few methods for cutting the hole in the bottle. This one is my favourite because it is quick and easy. Using a 1 cm diamond tip hole cutter attached to a drill. Cut a scrap of wood with a 1 cm hole cut all the way through, this will hold the cutter in one place while drilling.
Clamp the wood to the bottle and put the diamond tip hole cutter into the hole and drill through the bottle. Add water to the bottle while drilling.
Wiring up the lamp
It is better to do all your preparation for the wiring before you start. Using a drill I drilled a hole in the lid to add a threaded tube. I forgot to take a photo of this.
Attached a nut to the thread under the lid and the fittings then screw onto the top thread. The wire is fed through the hole, up to the top of the bottle and out of the threaded tube. Wire the lamp up and attach the lampshade.
Close up view of the detail on the altered bottle.
To see more great mixed media projects check out these super cool Halloween bottles or this mixed media canvas themed around my daughter wedding.
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