Thursday, March 31, 2016

Coastal Suncatcher from Recycled Soda Bottle

This Coastal Themed Sun-catcher project was inspired by THIS DIY wind chime pin I found on pinterest.  It took me to a web site, but not to the actual project.  So, looking at it I thought, "I can make that on my own."

It is an Earth friendly craft, using mostly recycled or found objects.  A great way to decorate your yard or patio for Earth Day!

The inspiration bottle had sea glass on it.  If you use actual sea glass not only will it be a beautiful sun-catcher, but will also make a beautiful wind chime as well.

I don't have any sea glass.  Our beaches don't have any sea glass, and I couldn't see spending $3 on a bag of sea glass from the craft store.

So, using upcycled items, I made my own faux sea glass too.  The finished product is just as beautiful as the origional project, but not quite as musical.

See how nicely it blows in the breeze in this short video below.  Then, if you want to see how I made this Upcycled Sun-Catcher just keep reading.  I have a step by step tutorial with photos!



2 liter soda bottle
Other soda bottles, milk jug or other smooth plastic from the recycling
Hole punch or thick needle
alcohol ink (or alcohol based marker) or translucent paint in greens and blues
river rocks and/or sea shells
flat floral marbles
fishing line or transite cord
strong scissors or x-acto blade (adults only!)
hot glue


1.  Make sure the bottles you are going to use are clean and dry.

2.  Take your 2 liter soda bottle and mark 4.5 to 5 inches down from the cap.  Mark all the way around the bottle.  This is where you will cut around the bottle to make the TOP of your sun-catcher.

*HINT* I left the wrapper on and used the top of the wrapper as my guide line.

Once you have your bottle cut into two parts, take the TOP part of the bottle and punch 8 holes, evenly spaced, around the bottom edge.

3.  Set aside the top of your 2 liter soda bottle, and cut circles out of the remainder of the bottle.

The size should be larger than your river rocks or sea shells.

I used my sizzix machine and circle shaped dies from Spellbinders to do this part, but you could free hand these for a more organic shape.

The plastic of soda bottles and milk jugs can be rather thin.  You can make them thicker by gluing two of a similar shape and size together.

You will need a minimum of 32 plastic shapes.  More if you want to glue some together to make them thicker.

4.  Color your plastic circles using your ink/marker/translucent paint.

I used Copic Markers in Ultramarine and Coral Sea

*FYI* The Coral Sea marker showed up okay on the frosted milk jug plastic IF I colored both sides of the plastic, but hardly showed at all on the clear soda bottle plastic, even with both sides colored in.

The marker streaks show up if you look closely.  It just adds texture and interest.
5.  Now you take your fishing line or transite cord and measure how much you will need to fit 4 of your plastic circles down its length.  Double that measurement and then cut 8 lenths of cord.  (for me my length was 18 inches.  Doubled that was 1 yard.  So I cut 8 one yard lengths of my transite cord.

The hole punch I used just happened to
be shaped like a heart..
Fold each of your strands in half.  Feed the folded in of one strand into the top your your soda bottle though the hole you punched earlier.  Thread the unfolded ends of your strand though this loop, and pull tight.

You now have a loop of thread and you don't have to worry about it becoming knotted and falling off.

Do this for each of the 8 holes, and you'll have 8 double strands hanging from the bottom of your bottle.

6.  Now we will decorate the top of our bottle using twine and the flat floral stones.  (You could also use more of the river rocks if you prefer.)

If you have more patience I do you might want to use something like e-6000 for this step.  I have no problem using hot glue.

 **EDIT**  15 hours later, hanging outside with strong winds from a storm system blowing in, the glass floral marbles started falling off the bottle.  I strongly recommend using a stronger adhesive, even if the drying time is longer.  So far only the glass marbles are dropping off, the stones and shells are holding strong.

Using your adhesive of choice glue the flat back marbles all the way around the bottom edge of the soda bottle top.

Keep in mind that hot glue WILL melt the plastic to an extent.  Low temp glue guns are best for this project but there might still be some distortion of your plastic.

Keep in mind also that even low temp hot glue will BURN YOU.  This is specially important when gluing rocks over the holes in your soda bottle.  (I kind of burned 2 fingers cause I forgot there was a hole there.

I covered the cap of my bottle with twine, and made a loop to hang it from.  I didn't do twin circles like the inspiration picture, but colored the backs of a few of the floral rocks with the same marker I used to color the bottle plastic, and glued those in a second row.

7.  The LAST part of the sun-catcher is the most tedious part.

You are going to take each double strand of cord and you are going to sandwich it between a plastic disc and a stone or shell.  (I also threw in a few more flat back floral marbles, some colored some not).

You want 4 disc/stone sandwiches going down each thread.  Try to stagger them so that they are not all side by side on each strand.  You also want to alternate between heavy stones and lighter accents  You don't want your sun catcher to tilt to one side because all the weight is on that end.

It took a while to glue 32 discs to thin strings between various shapes
and sizes of shells and stones.
Once you are done with this step, give your glue some time to dry.  Snip the bottom of the strings even with the last disc on the strand, and hang it outside!

If you are lucky enough to be able to use real sea glass instead of colored plastic this will not only be a pretty sun catcher, but will also make a lovely wind chime as well!


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