Painting Sea Glass

This is a tutorial for how to frost glass jars and creating other DIY sea glass vase, bottles and other decor accessories.

We we won’t be going on vacation for a long while, I decided to bring a little bit of a beach vibe to our home instead. Nothing feels more tropical than sea glass decor.

There are many ways to make your own frosted sea glass bottle. The most popular and easiest ways are probably frost spray paint, acrylic frost paint and a DIY glue-based paint.

The spray paint creates the most even coat and is probably the fastest but I have no dedicated work space (or even outdoor space for that matter) to do any serious spraying so I decided to focus on the minimal ventilation required methods.

Surprisingly I found the DIY glue method for frosting to be super easy and created the best most even coat. I like it even more because you can control the shade and color better.

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Materials for DIY Sea Glass Bottles

Bottles – Glass works best for the different types of paint and glue. I tried with plastic and acrylic surfaces but the paint doesn’t cling as well and evenly as it does on glass.

Frost Paint – If you want to use a spray paint, this sea glass spray paint seems to be the best choice. A much cheaper choice like the one I used in this project is an acrylic based enamel made by FolkArt.

GlueElmers Glue actually had the best consistency for a DIY frost paint.

Dye for DIY Glue – Both food coloring and acrylic based glues work well. I just wouldn’t use an oil-based paint because it doesn’t mix with the polymer-based glue.

Sponge – A sponge works better than a brush for this project.

Templates – Making frosted bottles and jars is much more fun with additional decorative elements. My set of tropical-themed templates are available both in SVG and printable formats for free in my resource library.

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    DIY Sea glass paint tips

    First, make sure your bottle is clean. I know this is obvious but it is not as critical for other crafts as it is for this one. The surface of the bottle or jar needs to not have excessive amounts of oil or else the paint won’t stick.

    If you are recycling a bottle or jar, I find different brands use different glues for their labels. The cheaper the item, the easier it is to get the label off. I find wine bottles are the worst. I can usually just soak the jar in warm soapy water for a little bit and the label just peels off easily.

    For more sticky labels, I like to make a solution with washing soda and warm water and soak the item for a couple of hours.

    If the adhesive is still there, then I resort to scrubbing with a baking soda and oil paste. Be sure to rewash your bottle after this step.

    The acrylic paints are most sensitive to streaks. I found a makeup sponge to be the most effective. There is no need to apply an excessive amount of paint. I small dime-size dollop was enough to paint a 16oz jar.

    Part of the sea glass look is its translucency so one coat of paint is usually enough.

    DIY frosted glass with glue

    There is something about the consistency of Elmers Glue that works really well for this project. You can even just paint it with a brush and the streaks sort of just melt away.

    In terms of how much dye to add, I found for a drop is enough for quarter-sized dollop of glue which is about all you need for a small bottle. This of course depends on the exact shade you are going for so it’s really up to you. Just be sure to mix it well before applying so there are no streaks of color (although I think that looks good too, a marbled sea glass look).

    Ideas for painting and accessorizing your DIY sea glass bottle

    There are many directions you can go for further accessorize your sea glass bottle.

    The easiest is to add decals. I made mine with my Cricut cutting machine but you can also cut this by hand. If you don’t have a cutting machine, check out my article on best Cricut machines for beginners if you are interested in getting one.

    You can also make a stencil and paint your decals although this doesn’t work as well because the stencil film tends to lift the frosted base.

    I would also recommend doing cutouts. This is where you put the sticker or decal on the bottle first, paint over it with the frosting paint and then remove the cutout. I highly recommend removing the cutout with tweezers while the paint is still wet. It minimizes frosted paint chunks ripping off.

    You can also add little trinkets with burlap string or a hot glue gun.

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