Monday, July 13, 2015

Coastal Inspired Altered Bottles {Making Memories from the Sea}

With summer in full swing, many people are heading to beaches and lakes to get away, so today I am sharing a project to keep some of the memories alive from those trips, while adding a coastal touch to your decor. It only requires an old bottle, some embellishments and letting your creativity flow. You could embellish these bottles with nature collected along the shore, pieces saved from trips passed or items that remind you of a previous vacation.
I made these "Ocean Relic" altered bottles, as I affectionately named them, for my online shop back in 2009. I shared a glimpse of them last week in a vignette I decorated back then, before they were shipped off to their new owners.

Altering vintage bottles into works of art was a pastime I thoroughly enjoyed for a long time. Back when altered art was all the rage...I couldn't get enough. I stayed up till the wee hours of the morning creating. I sold a lot of my art pieces first on eBay and then Etsy and my own website. Mixed media and collage art are still huge passions, but I don't get a chance to do it as often now. Since these are still some of my favorite creations, I wanted to share how I went about making them and inspire you to create your own.

(I originally wrote portions of the following article for the publication Creating Vintage Charm.)
Whenever I go to flea markets, yard sales and antique shops, I am always drawn to old bottles. I especially enjoy collecting those in shades of green and pale aqua. After years of accumulating and having them simply sit on shelves, I decided to turn some into art pieces. This collection was inspired by the lure of the sea and the romantic notion of finding a message in a bottle along a sandy shore. I altered them with various vintage embellishments, paper scraps and bits of nature. The possibilities are endless, so let your imagination run wild in creating your own.

Supply Inspiration List
(this list contains some affiliate links*)

-Vintage glass bottles, tinted green or blue (Tip: try garage sales and thrift store for inexpensive ones. Flea markets and antique store will likely have higher prices. Or purchase new ones at craft stores.)
-Sand or dried lavender
-Bits of nature - dried flowers, twigs, etc.
-Small seashells and sand dollars
-Jute twine or ribbon
-Cork stoppers
-Paper scraps
-Vintage embellishments/jewelry pieces

To begin, I pulled together the supplies I wanted to use including several green tinted glass bottles. If you are able to plan ahead for a future vacation, remember to take home some shells, sand or any other small items that can be stored from the journey. You could also choose to make one to remember a vacation already taken. Simply pull together items that remind you of the time spent away and what was most meaningful about it.
I chose to fill my bottles with dried lavender since that is what I had on hand at the time. Another great option would be to fill them with sand saved from a trip, along with tiny shells or found nature pieces that can fit inside. For some, I tied up dried flowers and old book pages to add a romantic touch. You could add scraps from a vacation or write a small letter to remind yourself of the time that you had and the memories made. Or even insert a small photograph if the bottle opening is large enough.
I then embellished the outside of the bottles. Because I wanted mine to have a vintage feel, I clipped scraps of paper with old dates and numbers. Then to keep with the sea theme, I added some twine around the necks to hang sand dollars and shells, some embellished with vintage jewelry pieces and bits of coral. 
To finish the pieces I decorated the cork stoppers. I covered one in old lace and embellished the tops with vintage jewelry pieces from old clip-on earrings as well as found seashells.
When you are all done, you have a unique piece of mixed-media artwork to add a touch of summer to your decor.  It will surely be a conversation piece and bring back fond memories of your time by the sea!

Till next time...
~Alice W.

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*This post contains affiliate links. I may receive a small commission from any sales made through them. The cost to you does not change, but the extra income helps me to maintain this blog. Thanks for the support!