Artful Fences





Introduction: Artful Fences

About: Life is a series of projects. Woo-hoo!

I like to enjoy beauty in everyday things. My family spends a lot of time in our backyard and recently I found myself looking at my drab fence. I was sitting in a patio chair with a blue glass bottled water; the sun was shining through it and it gave me an idea. Bits of glass lit up by the sun would turn my drab fence into a beautiful object to enjoy. This is a simple project that you can do with very little time and money. The results bring beauty and light into your backyard, you'll have a pretty spot to relax and gaze away.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

This project is very simple, all you need is:

1. A drill

2. A 3/4" drill bit

3. flat glass marbles, also known as vase filler, in the colors of your choice

4. clear silicone outdoor caulk

The drill bit should be slightly larger than the circumference of your glass bits, so you may need a different size drill bit based on the size of your glass marbles. We're going to use a loose fit.

Step 2: Drill the Holes and Find a Pleasing Color Arrangement for Your Marbles

Drill random holes in your fence pickets. Avoid placing holes where the framing runs behind the pickets. You want the sun to be able to shine through the holes to light up the glass. When you're happy with the amount of holes, start filling the holes with glass marbles. Choose marbles that are round, not oblong for a better fit. Be mindful of the fit, you want a loose fit on a dry fence. Wood will swell when it becomes wet or humid, this will squeeze the glass marbles and you don't want them to crack or dislodge.

Next stand back and look at the color arrangement, is it pleasing to the eye? Change the colors around until you are happy with the overall look you've created. Note how the sunlight changes the appearance throughout the day, some colors are more prominent when lit by the sun and others are more prominent in shade.

Step 3: Secure the Marbles With Silicone

Since we loose-fitted the marbles in the fence we need to secure them. Using outdoor grade clear silicone, squeeze a bead of silicone around the outer edge of the marble. The silicone will snug the marbles into the fence.

There is one other item to note, when selecting your glass bits, be sure not to use marbles that magnify. Although they can be very pretty, you don't want to magnify sunlight and set something (dry grass?) on fire.

Feel free to make patterns, or spell out words and phrases with your marbles. Or, use a heavier or lighter pattern to suit your tastes. Let your imagination run wild. When you've finished your project sit back and enjoy your new artful fence.



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    16 Discussions

    Nice idea, its pretty :-)

    Actually, at least in my neck of the woods, "shared fences" really only belong to one home. Posts and 2X4's on your side of the fence it's your neighbors. Nice finished look (no visible posts) on your side? probably your fence.

    Thanks. I did it in a section of fence that is not shared. My neighbor likes it though, so I may add more along the shared section too. Most people have at least a section with a gate to their yard that is not shared. You never know, your neighbor may like it too.

    I think that the silicon wouldn't look so good, but that's just me. You could try drilling a slightly narrower hole from one side, creating a narrow frame. Then push some tiny
    finishing nails into the endgrain above and below, maybe gently tap them
    almost flush with a wooden dowel and a light hammer. You just wouldn't want to have the nail chip the glass, right? Good point on the fire hazard. Broken bottle glass, though nowhere near as common as cigarettes, is a known cause of wildfires.

    1 reply

    Or instead of the nails, some clear epoxy on the little 'frame'.

    My Niece and Nephew would love this ! It's a nice subtle effect; hopefully I'll get to see how it changes during the day myself :) What about some clear Silicone to help hold them in?

    Nice Job !

    1 reply

    I think you must have missed the last step about using clear silicone to hold them in, lol. Great minds think alike :)

    Cool idea! Still not convinced those marbles wouldn't focus the light though... especially if there are plants/bushes nearby.

    1 reply

    I've checked it pretty carefully, the true sphere marbles seem to focus light but the flat vase-filler marbles I've used don't focus any light, they just glow. It's pretty easy to tell down here in sunny Texas. Also, my fence faces the concrete driveway so there are no combustibles. It's definitely worth repeating that you need to be careful with marble selection though, thanks.