By Grow and Make Contributing Editor Kristina Strain
Grow and Make’s Green Holiday Series
Make gifts out of junk. It might not sound appealing when worded that way, but taking a thoughtful and creative approach to your gift list is a terrific way to green your holidays. Many of the everyday items we think of as disposable junk are just begging for a second life as something else.
Often, all it takes is a coat of paint and a little glue to transform a little throwaway something into a stylish and useful gift. Start by looking at things not as trash but as an artist’s raw materials, and a whole new world opens up.
For this project, we’re going to turn lowly bottle-caps into unique mosaic fridge magnets with the help of some found objects and grout.
Bottle-caps. Mine are from Snapple and Nantucket Nectar bottles; pretty much anything will work.
Tile adhesive, specifically for mosaics, or strong all-purpose glue
Grout. For this and the above, check your local craft store. Most craft stores have a mosaic section which will carry everything you need.
Strong circular magnets
Glue to adhere the magnets to the caps– I used super glue.
Material for mosaic– technically called tesserae, these can be derived from many sources. For my magnets, I used tiny seashells and chards of colored glass. Try little buttons, beads, or interesting seedpods. It’s all fair game.
The first step is to prime and spray paint both sides of the bottle-caps. I used two coats of primer and one coat of paint. Let dry well before continuing.
Spread a thick layer of adhesive in the bottom of the bottle cap, and arrange the tesserae as you please.
Wait at least twelve hours before applying grout.
Mix the grout in a small container, using approximately one part water to three parts grout. When the grout is smooth and thick, spread it over the mosaic’d surface using your finger, or a small spatula. Grout is water-soluble, so don’t worry too much about clean-up. Make sure to push the grout into all the nooks and crannies of your design.
Let the grout set at least 15 minutes.
Use a damp rag to gently polish the surface of your mosaic, removing excess around the tesserae if necessary. Repeat this process as needed, allowing ten to fifteen minutes between polishings for the grout to set.
Apply a magnet to the back of each cap and you’re good to go!
These magnets would make a terrific little token for pretty much anyone on your holiday gift list. After spray-painting the caps, let your child create the mosaic design for a gift any grandparent would cherish. Package three or five magnets in a pretty drawstring bag, or tuck an extra-special one inside someone’s stocking.
This project finally presents a use for the most ubiquitous and incessant of all disposables: the bottle-cap. Though it doesn’t seem like a big deal to toss a bottle-cap in the trash now and then, if you started saving them (as I did, once) you’d be alarmed at how quickly they add up. This is a simple and attractive way to make use of them!
Here they are: all gifts, all green, all in the same place. Click away!