While you travel the world you make loads of memorys and you can conserve them on photos and on videos. But I wanted to wear these memorys, but not as a trashy tourist t-shirt. So I came up with the idea to create bottled miniatures of the places I visited.
Depending on how much details you want and they're quite easy or a real struggle to make.
Here's what you'll need:
- glass vials
- sand in different colors ( I collect some sand ond every holiday)
- clear glue, super glue and lacquer
- fine pincette
- toothpicks and Q-tips
- modeling clay
- acrylic colors and a fine paintbrush
- tiny bits and pieces to creat the scene
- wire to turn it into a pendant
- model making water (epoxy could work too) and for that gloves, a small funnel and a scraper
- if possible a syringe with a wide needle (can be very helpful for precisely apply glue)
By the way: if you ask your vet very nicely, you can get the used vials from the vaccins for cats and dogs. I'm a vet and we throw dozens of them away every day.
Step 1: The First Steps...
Decide which sand you need for each scenery. Idealy you have some from the place you want to create.
Remove the tops of my vaccination vials.
My first step with all sceneries was to make a base of sand.
Depending on the scenery just a bit on the ground or about a third if the vial.
To fix the sand, especially when the sand needs to stay in a special shape, I injected some lacquer in the sand. You can also just put some drops of lacquer on top and mix it, but then you'll have to clean the sides afterwards.
You can shape the sand-lacquer-mix with Q-tips and toothpicks. If you want to plant a tree make a hole with a toothpick.
Step 2: On the Beach - Island of Rügen, North of Germany
Lets start with something easy
Take some light-colored sand and fill about a third of the vial with the sand-lacquer-mix. Let it dry completely.
Now take some very small seashells, the smaller the better. Put some super glue on them and place the shells on the wanted place.
If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of the sea in the vial.
Step 3: Paradise Island - Fihalhohi Island, Maldives
The epitome of holiday feeling
Take some very light-colored sand and fill about a fifth of the vial with the sand-lacquer-mix. Make a bay in about a third of the surface with a Q-tip. Also make a hole for the palm tree with a toothpick. Then let it dry completely.
Mix clear glue with a bit of blue or turquoise ink. Put it in the small bay. The easiest way get the glue just where you want it is with a syringe and a wide needle. The glue will shrink a bit, so put a bit more in it than you want in the end.
Make a tiny palm tree. Take a branchlet of about 18mm length. To creat the leaves, cut some green paper in five small strips with rounded ends and cut some incisions in one side of them. Now glue them on top of the branchlet.
When everything dried carefully plant the palm tree with some super glue in the prepared hole.
Now lean back and imagine yourself in the sun with a tropical drink in your hand.
Step 4: The Living Desert - Sossusvlei, Namibia
What better use for sand there is than creating a desert scenery
First fill a third of the vial with a red sand-lacquer mix. The hold the vial in an angle and let some white sand run in so that it covers about half of the surface. Put some small dorps of lacquer on the white sand, add a hole for the tree with a toothpick and let it dry. Then hold the vial in the opposite angle and fill in some more red sand so it forms a dune. And again, put some lacquer on it an let it dry. While the lacquer is drying, you can change the shape of your dune with a Q-tip.
For the tree, take a piece of wood. :) No seriously, take the smallest "tree-shaped" branchlet you can finde, mine was less than 2cm long. Now plant the little tree with some super glue in the prepared hole.
Dwell a moment in the tranquillity you can only find in a desert.
Step 5: Joie De Vivre - the Provence, South of France
Use modeling clay to create more details.
Fill a third of the vial with the sand-lacquer-mix. Form a little shed or a ruin with modelling clay. You can take brown or bronce colored clay, alternatively you can paint it afterwards. Make sure it will fit through the neck of the vial. Fix it in place with super glue. Form three thin rolls, that will form the rows of lavender bushes. Place them beside the shed.
Now use a fine paintbrush to add some acrylic colors. Paint the rolls in green, maybe add a bit of color on the ground. Finally paint the top of the rolls in lavender.
The smell of Lavander, the constantly cirping of the cicadas and a nice glass of wine, what more could you need.
Step 6: Snowy Mountain Tops - Matterhorn, Switzerland
How to put a whole mountain in a small bottle.
Fill about a quarter of the vial with the sand-lacquer-mix. Form a roll of about 4cm with some gray modeling clay that just fits through the neck of the vial. Let it fall into a lying S-shape. Now take a toothpick and poke around the clay till you have your wanted shape. The toothpicks will make a quite realistic looking structure. Take a fine paintbrush and color the valley in lush green. You can add a bit of white clay on the tips to creat the snow or you just use some white acrylic color.
You'll always be awestrucked by these mountains, even if you spend your whole life surrounded by them.
Step 7: The Emerald Isle - Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
And the hardest one at last.
To get the shape right you need to make a rough modeling clay miniature of the cliffs. It should take about half of the circumference of the vial. In reality the top of the cliffs is flat, but to get the desired effect of depth the stair form is better. A part of the cliffs will be under water so add a strip of clay at the bottom. To get the shape through the neck of the vial you have to cut the steps apart. Stat with the biggest one and put it in place with some super glue and a toothpick or a small pincette. Then add the other pieces the same way one by one. When your happy with the shape add a bit of texture with the toothpick.
For the water mix clear glue with a bit of blue or turquoise ink. The easiest way get the glue just where you want it is with a syringe and a wide needle. The glue will shrink a bit, so put a bit more in it than you want in the end.
To finish it take a fine paintbrush and color the top of the cliffs in lush green acrylic color.
Celebrate your creation with a Guinness and some lovely fish'n'chips.
Step 8: ...make Them Shockproof...
Now you can leave them just like that. But as a pendant it has to go through many shocks and the more delicat pieces could fall off.
My way to make the whole thing more resistant was to use model making water. You'll get it in stores for model railways. It's a clear drying mass that needs to be melted in the oven and can then be poured in to the form of a lake or a river. But it works quite well to fix things and it looks like glass afterwards. It can be rather tricky to use because its still viscous and dries quickly, so make a few trials before you take your miniatures.
To pour the "water" into the vials I used a fine funnel. You can put the vials for about a minute in the oven to re-melt the "water" when it hasn't spread evenly. If you leave it in the oven to long bubbles will rise from the sand and you wont see anything anymore. Most probably some "water" will spill over the vial, which can be scratched of quite easily when it's dry.
Afterwards the look like they are filled with glass. They actually do look better in reality than on the picture, I just couldn't find a good angle to shoot it.
Step 9: ...and Finally Turn Them Into a Pendant
Instead of having a loop on top, I made too loops on the back side. That way, the vials wont roll around and the scenery can always be seen from the right side.
Take some wire and make a two loops which are about 1cm apart and about 4cm from the end. Hold the loops on the neck of the vial and winde the 4cm end around the neck so it ends between and under the loops. Now take take the other end of the wire and make 1 1/2 rounds over the loops and led it also end between the loops. Then twist these ends together, cut off the excess wire and fold the twisted wire so it wont poke you in the neck. I hope the drawing will make it clearer.
And you're done. Wear the as a single pendant or severals together.