A few weekends ago (when I was swamped) I taught some craft demos to the women at my church, including this one for Altered Soap Bottles. They are so easy and inexpensive and they make great little gifts! I thought I'd put together a little blog tutorial to show you how they're made.The trick to these soap bottles is that the art inside appears to float magically in the bottle. Okay, maybe not magically, but I guarantee you that when people first see these, they can't figure out how you got the words in the bottle! The secret is transparencies--the kind you'd use on an overhead projector.
Step 1: Design the insert. Because I have no idea what I'm doing in Photoshop, I used my Microsoft Word program. I knew that I could fit nine inserts to a page, so I did a little measuring and math and made nine text boxes to fill up the page (note: you will want to make your text box lines palest gray so they don't show up later--I learned this the hard way). Then I used a fancy font for the wording and downloaded a free dingbat font to make the snowflakes. (Getting those right was the hardest part, something I'm sure would have been easier in Photoshop.) Then I just copied and pasted the text into the eight other boxes. I printed it out, took it to a copy shop and had a transparency made. Easy!
It is important to note that for this project, you must use either a copier-generated transparency or one made on a laser printer. INK JET TRANSPARENCIES WILL NOT WORK! The ink will not hold up in the soap. Also, you do not have to use a computer to create your art. You can use rubber stamps or even have your child draw something cute--anything can be made into a transparency!
Step 2: Prepare the Soap Bottle. The soap I like to use for this craft is the Equate brand from Wal-Mart. The soap is clear, the labels are on the outside of the bottle, and best of all, they cost less than a dollar each! If you'd prefer to use another kind, just look for a brand that has the printing on the outside on a sticky label so it can be removed.
The labels can be peeled off fairly easily by hand. Remove any sticky residue with a product like Goo Gone or Un-Du. Unscrew the lid and lay aside the pump stem.
Step 3: Insert the Transparency. After you have cut apart the sheet of transparencies, it still may be necessary to trim them slightly to fit in the bottles. Simply hold the transparency up against the bottle to get an idea of how much you may need to trim off. Sometimes I find it helpful to round the top corners to mirror the rounded shape of the bottle.
Next, roll up the transparency with the printed lettering on the inside and stick it down into the neck of the bottle. (Note: some of the bottles have manufacturing lettering printed on the outside of the bottle, near the top edge. You might try to remove this with fingernail polish remover or just make sure that is the back side of your bottle.)
When the transparency gets down into the soap, it tends to unfurl by itself. If yours needs a little help, use a skewer or even the stem of the pump to gently unfold it and move it into place. Replace the pump, making sure the stem is BEHIND the transparency.
Tie on a ribbon and a cute tag and it's done! These bottles make great little gifties because they're easy, inexpensive and can be mass-produced if necessary. I'm going to make these as Christmas treats for the teachers in Maren's classroom. Another thing I love is that they can be easily personalized for the recipient--who doesn't love a personalized gift?
Here are some other examples to give you some ideas:
This one was given to my mom as a birthday treat from some ladies at church. I love how they combined the different fonts! Cute.
On this one, the pumpkin is a rubber stamped image. I couldn't find an image on the computer that I liked so after I printed out the lettering, I carefully stamped a pumpkin on each box.
This was one of my prototypes for the demo and I actually used black StazOn stamping ink on a piece of a report cover instead of a printed transparency. The black ink has held up just fine but a similar transparency I stamped using brown StazOn ink completely disappeared! I also embellished this one with a blue eyelet. It seems to be holding up for now but I'm not sure about the long term. You can also embellish the transparencies with small silk flowers, but make sure they are colorfast first. I think it would be fun to try using scrapbooking rub-ons or those adhesive vinyl shapes you can put on your walls. In either case, they would need to be applied on the back side of the lettering so that both will show. Anything that is colorfast and can be rolled up to fit in the neck of the bottle is fair game for embellishment--be creative!
I hope this tutorial has been helpful! If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments and I'll be happy to answer.
Also....to celebrate the beginning of October and the 'official' beginning of the Halloween season (yippee!) tomorrow I'll be announcing a GIVEAWAY! Be sure to come back and visit so you can enter!