Everyday Items Transformed
You may have a treasure trove of items lying around your house collecting dust that can be transformed into amazing wedding décor. With a little imagination, paint, glue, ribbons, or other craft accessories and some old-fashioned elbow grease, you can turn everyday items into extraordinary elements for your wedding.
Glass Bottles or Jugs
Large glass receptacles such as wine bottles, liquor bottles, and juice jugs can be turned into elegant lamps that can be used for centerpieces and accessorizing wedding décor. A regular empty bottle can be transformed into an oil or electric lamp; just make sure to clean it out really well. You can purchase kits from www.vinoglo.comthat contain everything you need to make a bottle into a romantic oil lamp — the wick, oil, and glass hurricane-like globe. No tools are necessary.
Reusing old items for wedding decorations is a wonderfully green way to reduce and reuse. You are reusing what is readily available and you are reducing by not having to purchase brand new materials. Additionally, you reduce the amount of stuff that normally might end up in landfills.
If you want to turn a bottle into an electric lamp, you'll need a bottle lamp kit that can be purchased at most local hardware stores or at www.naturalcraft.com. The kits usually contain all the hardware needed; no electrical knowledge is necessary. You will need a tool that can cut a hole in the glass large enough to pull the electrical cord through and you will have to purchase or make a lamp shade that coordinates well with your new bottle lamp.
To really transform the bottles you can add pretty decorative touches such as painted designs to match your wedding theme and color scheme, or decoupage photos or cutouts. Another creative touch that will really stand out is etching a design into the glass. This works best on a plain untextured surface.
Etching cream (available at most craft stores)
Adhesive-backed shelf paper or premade vinyl etching stencils
Protective goggles and gloves
Take precautions by wearing goggles and gloves to protect your skin and eyes at all times. Cover all surfaces well so that nothing gets damaged by the etching cream, and work in a well-ventilated area because of fumes. Always use an aluminum or stainless steel sink because etching cream chemicals will damage porcelain and enamel finishes.
1. Trace the design onto the tracing paper, then place carbon paper on top of the vinyl shelf backing, carbon (transfer) side down. Place the tracing paper on top of the carbon paper and trace the design again. You can also draw directly onto the vinyl with a marker.
2. Cut the design out of the vinyl, leaving a 1″ border around the design. Peel away the paper backing. Determine the best location before removing the backing.
3. Place the vinyl on the desired area of the glass and smooth it on, pushing out any air bubbles and ripples in the vinyl. If it is a rounded surface, pleat the outer edges, trying to keep the inner design as flat as possible.
4. Use the craft knife to cut out the design area. Only cut the part you want to be etched. For example, if you wanted a grape pattern you would cut out the grape. Make sure the border is still attached firmly to the vinyl once the design is cut out.
5. Heat the etching cream by soaking the jar in a pot of warm water. Wearing your gloves and goggles, use a cotton swab to apply the etching cream in a thick layer over the exposed design. Use the cotton swab to gently pop any air bubbles in the cream.
6. Leave the cream on according to the directions on the jar, usually about five to six minutes. Gently rinse off the cream with lowpressure running water (be careful not to splash) and pat dry with paper towels.
7. Pull off the vinyl stencil, and you have etched a design in glass.
This process can be used on glass tumblers, jars, bottles, vases, and pitchers — anything you find that could use a creative touch. If you don't want to try cutting your own stencil, there are a wide variety of premade etching stencils. All you have to do is peel and stick, then follow the directions for the etching cream.
Canisters, Cans, and Metal Tins
A plain metal can may be transformed into a candle holder. Food canisters, cocoa tins, and coffee cans all can be turned into decorative containers. Clean up any plain can and turn it into something beautiful. Small flat cans such as tuna, chicken, and cat food tins make nice holders for votives or small floating candles. Larger cans, such as soup cans, work well with pillar-style candles.
Clean the cans thoroughly and make sure the labels and any label remnants are removed. Paint them with spray paint (Krylon offers a low VOC spray paint that is 100% acrylic latex) in a well-ventilated area over newspaper or drop cloths. It is usually easiest to spray the inside first then flip it over and spray the outside. It may take a couple of coats to get a thick even finish.
Once they are dry, you can embellish the outside of the cans with your choice of items: paint designs with acrylic paints, attach fabric cutouts, glue on lace or ribbon borders, add vintage buttons, or attach sea shells or decoupage paper cutouts.
It used to be hard to transform plastic containers into anything craftsy since normal paint never stuck well to plastic surfaces, but now Krylon makes Fusion for Plastic spray paint. Almost any old plastic item such as a watering can, patio furniture, or plastic paint cans can have a new life just by adding a new coat of paint.
Large containers such as bulk-size food cans, big coffee canisters, or paint cans may be transformed into spring-time buckets filled with flowers, spring goodies, or favors. Metal cooking cocoa tins can be turned into little banks and given away as favors. You can paint sayings on them such as “a penny saved is a penny earned,” “a penny for your thoughts,” or “rainy day fund.”
Cardboard and cardboard-aluminum mix cans with lids can be painted or wrapped in fabric and transformed into cute storage containers. Turn a few into decorative centerpieces and fill them with handmade soaps, little bags of potpourri, or envelopes of dried herbs for your guests to take home.
Plain Glasses, Bottles, and Glass Jars
Empty baby food jars, spaghetti sauce jars, olive oil bottles — all these can have life beyond what they were made for without going through the recycling process. Jars can be remade into candle holders or even into jar candles if you decide to melt some wax and try candle-making yourself. Be sure they're the right kind of glass for this purpose so they don't shatter when heated. Designs can be etched, painted, or decoupaged onto the glass to breathe new life into them and to make them oh-so-pretty for your green event.
What's Old May Be Useful
Keep your eyes open for the amazing things that can be made from normal everyday items you might think are trash. Plastic pop bottles become bird feeders; scrap wood becomes birdhouses; castoff chair legs, architectural finials, and spindles become candlestick holders. Cutouts from old calendars and wrapping paper add texture to plain boxes and crates, and wallpaper scraps can become elegant gift boxes. Use your imagination, visit craft websites for inspiration, or hit the library for craft books. You'll find many new ways to use old things, quite a few of which can be incorporated into your big green wedding.