Friday, November 29, 2013

Homemade Billiard Ball Vase Filler Tutorial
Pottery Barn version

Each time my sis and I go to the mall we hit our favorite home stores: Crate n Barrel and Pottery Barn. And for the last few months I've seen her moon over the Vintage Pool Ball Vase Filler at Pottery Barn. She can never pull the plug to buy them and I always say, "I could totally make some for you." So I finally decided to make some for her already! Since I know this is something she wants and she does nice things for me all the time. It's the least I can do for my big sister.

The hardest part was sourcing the wooden craft balls, which was the main reason I didn't make these for her months ago.  I could only find them at Hobby Lobby and they were always out of stock when the wood working stuff was on sale. Grrr... I love you, Hobby Lobby! Just wish they had more in stock. I actually purchased them at regular price just so I could actually get some. I guess I could have gotten a raincheck but I didn't. I saw. I bought. I seized the opportunity.

Supply List:
10-12  2" wood balls (PB set is 10 pc)
1" painters tape
acrylic paint, flat, I used Craft Smart (Vanilla, Black, Dark blue, Plum, Holiday Red,  Dark orange, Hunter green, Espresso, Mustard yellow)
Black Sharpie marker, fine point
Modge Podge, satin finish (a.k.a. Mother's milk for crafters. Love this stuff!)
3/8" angle brush, preferably nylon for all brushes
3/8" straight brush
1" straight brush
2 cardboard paper towel rolls, cut into 2" sections (for setting the balls on)
1 screw or nail (for distressing)

The solids were the easiest to do. I basically just painted half the balls in various solid colors with the straight brush, one half at time, drying them on cardboard stands. Brush strokes are great because these are supposed to look handpainted and vintage. Once dry, I located the center of each ball and marked it with a pencil. It was really easy to find the centers on these because the wood grain was still visible. Then I used the angle brush in Cream to freehand the circles for the numbers. Just place the bottom of the bristles on the pencil mark and swirl the brush around in a clockwise direction. You may want to put the coffee down for this part (ask me how I know). Apply 2-3 coats or until it covers.

The stripes could be done one of two ways: Paint the balls in various colors and use the painters tape to cover the stripe while you paint multiple coats of cream onto the top and bottom of ball. OR you can do what I did: Paint the entire ball Cream (I used Vanilla, but they really should have been a touch creamier) and use the painters tape to trace a line in pencil. Remove the tape, then fill in the stripe with color of choice. This might seem harder than taping the stripe off, but the line from the tape is kind of wiggly anyway on such small object and I'd rather paint a dark color on cream than vice versa. Your choice. They're supposed to look hand painted so they don't need to be perfect. In fact, DON'T MAKE THEM PERFECT! That would be silly. They should have some character. We're going for a vintage look. Once again, I used the angle brush, freehand, to create the cream circles on the stripes.

Next, it was time for the numbers. I'm such a nerd, I even looked up the correct colors for each number on Wikipedia. Here's the breakdown:
1. Solid Yellow
2. Solid Blue
3. Solid Red
4. Solid Purple
5. Solid Orange
6. Solid Green
7. Solid Brown
8. Solid Black
9. Striped Yellow
10.Striped Blue
11.Striped Red
12.Striped Purple
13 Striped Orange
14 Striped Green
15.Striped Brown

I also printed a photo of my inspiration to reference the font. Using a fine tip black Sharpie marker, carefully write the numbers in the cream circle of each ball. Again, set that coffee down!

 Now comes the fun part. Take a screw or nail and bang, scratch, and claw the billiard balls to distress them slightly. I tried using sandpaper, but it resulted in more of a rub than a distress, so a screw it was!

Lastly, apply a thin coat of Modge Podge with the 1" brush to seal everything, deepen the colors, and add a teensy bit of shine. You can save a step by using Satin acrylic paint, but I just worked with what I had and what I had was flat paint.

See the difference? Sorry it's blurry. The extra shine really makes 'em pop. As you can see in the PB photo above, there is light reflecting off the surface, so the paint definitely isn't flat.

I want to make some more of these! Maybe in non-traditional colors? Maybe metallic or glitter??? Hmmm........

As I was saying, they were really easy to make. It took longer for the coats of paint to dry and clean my brushes than it took to paint, AND they were a fraction of the price of Pottery Barn's (if you take into account that you're going to use the craft paint for a million other projects, not just this one). On a side note, PB doesn't even carry these anymore.

Took these to my sister BEFORE Christmas! We're not supposed to be exchanging gifts anyway (oops), but I found a loophole. I gave them as a "hostess gift" for Thanksgiving. Sneaky.  I think she thought they were the real thing at first, which made me very proud. PB knock-off success!

~ Amber
P.S. These pics were taken in my home. My formal living room is back together after Justin finished the baseboards last weekend. Yay!  I'll post more pics of the finished room soon.

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