Once, during my routine work, I found a glass slipper. This is me at work on the Great Barrier Reef. And this is what I did at the time with this once-in- a- lifetime beach- glass treasure.
But I couldn’t help thinking: on a tropical island, no gal needs a glass carriage made from a pumpkin. What she needs is a glass hammock. Even better, what about cooking up a batch of 15 at once? If that’s beginning to sound like the ultimate take-home fairy party favor, you’re here.
Caution: this is an ethereal project. Working with nature to create something beautiful that looks every bit like it’s made of glass. Be quiet, patient; and in the present.
Step 1: What You Will Need
- Three Australian kapok dried fruit pods. ( Cochlospermum gillivraei) And these are? Not an edible fruit or veg , like the luscious pumpkin that inspires Halloween. But the enigmatic and intricately engineered survivor of a tough tropical climate. It contains a snow-white fibre that can’t be spun, like cotton, but is soft and inviting and it filled colonial mattresses and best-loved toys for adventurers to the new land down under from the eighteenth century.
- Don’t have these? Read on anyway and be inspired. Nature is so generous yet so specifically niched- there will be likely be something in your part of the world you could use to make something "glass".
- Cotton string or embroidery thread
- All –purpose adhesive
- Blue and green food dyes
- Clear spray enamel
- Four white containers (so you can clearly see the dye colour) and some kitchen tongs for the dying
- Some tiny light objects to decorate: beads, sequins, feathers, pearls, shells etc.
Step 2: Deconstructing Nature
Hold the kapok pod with the pointy end facing down.
Gently pull apart in approximate halves.
Disassemble all the parts. Craft alert: Don’t throw away any of the bits you don’t use today. They’re for other Instructables eg See the clouds/snow appearing in my Tropical White Christmas Instructable Christmas decor challenge.
Each kapok pod will contain five creamy colored crescents; so you’ll have enough for your fifteen little party fairies.
Step 3: Dip and Dye
Assemble the raw crescents and decide on the colour you'd like to try.
Choosing colors: the creamy/ lemon base will affect the final colour result- much like dying pasta. I’m crafting in the tropics, so I used two parts blue to one part green for an aqua green effect, diluted with water until I was happy with the color. Experiment! You might prefer coral colors; or dark and moody colors.
Working in smaller batches, soak the crescents in boiling water for a minute or so, then lift with the tongs into the dye, making sure both sides are covered, then lift out again to dry.
Step 4: Drying and Applying the Glaze
How you lay the crescents out to dry will affect the final pattern.
Lying on the side leaves a watermark finish. Laying them over the rim of the bowl gives a more uniform vintage glass effect.
When the crescents are completely dry, spray with the clear enamel. Tip: they’re impossibly light, so line them up against a box or something to stop them from blowing away when you spray. Spray both sides.
Step 5: Cut the Strings
My cotton craft string was too thick for the delicate scale so I divided it into halves. Cut lengths of about 30cms (1 foot). You’ll need 30 lengths for 15 hammocks.
Step 6: Cautionary Notes on Assembling the Hammocks
When you’re working with this glue on this tiny scale, it’s good to have a damp cotton cloth to wipe your hands on if you get some glue on them. Tip: find a rag. Don’t use the tea towel in the kitchen, or your sister’s t-shirt. Paper towels don’t really cut it. If you have a t-shirt gran gave you from her last cruise, now might be the time to bring it out.
When gluing, you need to work gently. Too much pressure and you might crack your little artwork. If you hear a crunching sound: too late. ( But, you still have 14 left).
Essential tip: you have to let the glue set before you can use the hammock. At least a few hours. According to the glue manufacturer: the next day! Don’t put any strain on your little creation until it’s set. Then, you’ll be surprised and amazed at how flexible it is. You’ll be able to stretch it out like a real hammock.
Step 7: Assembling and Decorating the Hammocks
Apply some glue to one end of the hammock.
Twist the thread around the end. Add some more glue on top and then cover with a bead, or shell or whatever. Apply very gentle pressure to the bead to set it in the glue. Add your other decoration, then repeat at the other end of the hammock.
Step 8: Think Jewelry
Make the most of the tiny scale and exquisite glass-like effect by restraining the decoration. Allow the glass effect to shine.
Step 9: A Note on Packaging
If you did want to make a batch as party favors you could package them as I did for my island craft stall. The hammocks are very flexible and strong on the long-axis, but will break like pasta if pressure is applied to the sides. Place them in clear cellophane bags with a card. If you don’t want to use bubble-wrap, a simple alternative is to staple an A4 cardstock sheet into an envelope.
Step 10: Stay Local
I’m crafting on an island on the Great Barrier Reef. I decorated this little hammock with Halimeda, dyed in the same aqua food dyes. Halimeda is a calcified algae on the reef. We find it washed up on our sand, bleached a brilliant white. What will you add from your part of the world?