Wednesday, February 25, 2015

I made DIY Japanese fishing floats

As I've been decluttering, I've found it pretty easy to get rid of a lot of stuff. One thing I didn't want to give away, despite not being able to use it as we originally planned and having no other place to use it, was this brass light shade.

At some point in the last week I saw what looked like this exact shade used as a vase with a tall pillar candle in it. I have no idea where I saw it, and Google searches have not been helpful. But it got me thinking about what I could put in that if I used it as a vase. I'm not really a candle person, but I remembered this Mod Podge Japanese fishing float tutorial that I saw forever ago. I bought the ornaments for this probably two years ago, and they've been sitting around ever since. Time to do some crafting.

The first steps--fill the ornaments with matte Mod Podge, swirl it around, pour it into the next one, repeat--went great. I didn't have any toilet paper tubes, so I used some grody old cupcake pans I had around. I lined the cups with foil, or you could use foil cupcake liners. I wouldn't use paper liners.

The original post says to bake them at 180 degrees, but doesn't say anything about the length of the time you have to bake them, just until they're clear. I went in ten minute increments and eventually lost track of time, but after maybe two hours, I noticed that there was condensation on the inside of the ornaments. I didn't know if this would mess up the Mod Podge, so I took them out and let them cool for maybe two minutes so I could touch them. It didn't take long since the temperature was only 180. Anyway, the extra Mod Podge had pooled in the throats of the ornaments, and in most cases had gone up far enough that it was now on the outside and had baked to a skin that attached the ornaments to the foil. It was pretty easy to detach them, but messy. If you have to get help to separate them, be sure to be super clear that this is hot liquid glue so don't jack around when you're pulling the foil off and burn yourself. B didn't really understand what I was doing, if you can't tell.

Eventually they started clearing up, although the clear side was really streaky. Well, nothing to be done about that. They were clearing on one side (the back) so I rotated the pans so the other side would clear. Then when I went back to check, the fronts that were previously clear were cloudy again and the backs were clearing.

I started this project after I put Baby Girl down for a nap, so let's say 2 PM. The ornaments were still cloudy at 7 PM. I finally gave up and took them out of the oven at about 7:30, and they still looked like this.

I eventually figured out that the ornaments I used were bigger than the ones used in the original tutorial--mine are 4" across--so I have no idea how much time this would take normally. I assume that was the cause of all my issues with this step.

The next morning, despite my hopes that they would miraculously clear up overnight, they still looked the same. I decided to throw them back in the oven, but this time at 220 degrees. After 30 minutes, it seemed like a miracle! They were clear! But as soon as they came out of the oven they clouded up again. It wasn't so much that they clouded up--that's part of the point, after all--but they were streaky and spotty. After an hour I decided to just make the best of it. We'll pretend that it was the glassblower's first day.

The original post used two glasses of dye: blue and green plus some yellow. I had kelly green Rit powdered dye and navy blue liquid dye. I followed the same recipe she did--pinch of salt, teaspoon of dye, water--even though I probably should have used less liquid dye. Since my ornaments were larger, I needed three. I didn't realize I'd need three at first and ended up having to dump some bottled water into one, so I suppose it all ended up equal in the end. I was a little worried about how they would balance on the cupcake pans, since I had thrown the plastic packaging away by this point, but they did fine.

I let the dye sit for three-ish minutes. After I mixed the dye for the first time, the ornaments mostly came out blue, so I tried redying a few of them with green. It took the second coat of dye just fine and I got a color I liked much more. This is the final product.

Sorry for the blurry picture, but I wanted to show my favorite one. I didn't stir the green dye and it (and probably the salt; I used kosher) made this starburst pattern. It's on two, but it's much more pronounced on this one.

And, of course, there were a few places where the Mod Podge didn't cover right and therefore the dye didn't cover right. Oh well.

Here they are in the vase.

My favorite one on top.

I tried to turn the stems toward the back or just keep them hidden as much as possible. I think it worked out fairly well. Oh, and pro tip: clean your glass container before you carefully arrange your floats in it.

Just to be clear, I don't think the issues I had were the fault of the original tutorial. I didn't realize that the ornaments she used were so much smaller than the ones I had, and I think the key to a smooth finish is having the Mod Podge melt quickly and evenly so it doesn't split or whatever happened with mine. I like to follow directions, so I probably would have used the lower temperature and screwed it up anyway, although I might only have used one package of ornaments to find out if I was right rather than messing up both.

I would also say that you should let these drain really well to make sure there's really no excess Mod Podge in there. Not too long, though, because I assume you don't want the Mod Podge to dry too much before you get them in the oven. Probably no more than ten minutes. Again, this may have been a function of having them at too low a temperature, but the pooling Mod Podge caused condensation and also made a bit of a mess around the openings of the ornaments, so try and avoid that as much as possible.

My vase isn't quite full, so I might give this a shot with another four pack of ornaments, assuming I can find them at this time of year. Maybe I can get them right using a higher temperature from the beginning.

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