Looking how to make glass fishing floats? Well, with the right materials and some thrift store finds it is easy. Let me show you how I made my japanese glass floats.
Today I want to show you how I created some beautiful nautical decor for my summer decorating. I figured out how I could get me some homemade glass fishing floats. It is a fun DIY project and the most important materials came form the thrift store so it is a cheap and affordable craft project too.
This post contains Affiliate Links. For more info, see my full disclosure here.
What are glass fishing floats
These Japanese glass floats are also called glass buoys. Now to be honest I had no idea those things were called buoys. In fact I don’t even know how to pronounce buoys. I hear it in my head but I am most likely getting it all wrong. To me they are just large fishing floats or glass balls in macrame nets. Anyway, I made them and I couldn’t be more happy about it.
These Japanese glass floats have become quite the collector’s item. You can still buy real vintage floats but I can imagine they are getting rare. In real life and the olden days they used to string fishnets together and to keep them floating on the sea’s surface these airfield glass balls were tied to the edges. Beach combers can still find them washed ashore from time to time. But I couldn’t wait for that much luck so I decided to make my own.
How to make glass fishing floats: Dying the Glass Balls
The idea for this project came from our April trip to NYC. As a good blogger I visited a couple of stores I only know from blog reading. Pottery Barn being one of them. There I set my eyes on these:
Mercury Glass buoys from Pottery Barn. They were beautiful and gorgeous and I loved them. I left them there because a) they would not fit into my suitcase and b) they were crazy expensive. So instead I took pictures and made a mental note “make large shipping floats”.
That mental note was still bouncing around in my head when I made a recent trip to the thrift store.
A small glass bowl of unknown purpose (a candle holder perhaps) and a large outside lamp with the perfect glass globe. I got them for a couple of bucks combined. I knew they would be perfect for my floating fishing balls project.
Next step was painting them to look like vintage glass. I used the Modpodge trick I learned when dying small pots on the smaller of the two.
But I didn’t have time for that. I needed to move on. I painted the small vase from within. I also painted an old lamp sphere I found in our basement. I am not sure if these were a worldwide phenomenon but I don’t think there was a home in the fifties/sixties that didn’t have at least one of them hanging on a ceiling. I know we had at least three of them in my childhood home. This one was in our house when we moved in. There really was not much point in taking it to the thrift store since they have at least ten of them at any given day. So I kept it for the day when a crafting inspiration would hit. Well that day came. I obviously painted this one from the outside. Just the Modpodge and food coloring combo, brushed on with a foam brush.
The large globe from the lamp I painted with glass paint from the inside. It became all streaky and spotty as it was so hard to move my hand inside without messing the paint up all the time. Didn’t take a mid-step photo of that, but you’ll see what I mean. In hindsight it might have been better to use a sea glass spray paint for the large globe. I would do that next time.
Homemade Glass Fishing Floats: How to Tie a Fishing Net
Than it was time to start thinking about the fish nets. My recent fishing net project on my white vase had giving me some confidence and guidance but applying it to round globes was a different matter. But I made it work. I used jute twine for this project because it has exactly the right kind of rustic, nautical vibe.
How to make a fishing net around a nautical glass ball.
You start with a circle of twine around the top or base of your sphere.
Tie at least 6 double strands of twine to this circle. You can use a Larks Head Knot (also know as cow hitch) to start, pull your strands through the loop. Next step is tie two strands of a different pair together in a simple knot. Go around tying strands in knots keeping them at the same height. For the next round do the same with new combinations of two strands. It sounds complicated but this is so easy. Just look at the picture above and you get the idea.
Make sure your fishing net follows the curve of the glass. It can be handy to have an extra set of hands to stretch and hold the twine as you continue to make the knots. Keep a good tension on the twine and make sure that the distances between the knots remain the same. If you don’t have a crafting assistant at hand you can use a tie-wrap to pull all the strands tight at the end. Pull the two active stands out while you work with them and then stretch them back within the bunch. This trick will help to keep the net taut around the round surface of your glass ball.
Keep on splitting and tying two strands together into the fishing net. When you reach the top (or bottom when working on something like a vase) you need another circle of twine to tie the fishing net to, and end it all up. The little rim on my lamp globe really helped in keeping that circle in place but it made it difficult to attach the strands if I tied it first. (The circle would be too tight to work with).
I hope this image is clear enough. You can see the circle of twine underneath the rim, I have it tied in the front here and you can see very loose knots all around it. The trick was to not close my circle yet, but first make very loose knots in the strands, string the small bit of twine through the holes, then tie the circle of twine really tight under the rim. I then had room in my knots to get them really tight and in place. This last phase is really what makes the fishnet look good, it needs to be stretched and have a lot of tension.
How to display glass floats
With all my homemade Japanese fishing floats ready it was time for the next step. Making a pretty coastal decor with my glass fishing floats on my garden table.
Creating a lovely coastal decoration with your fishing floats is really easy. Just grab a nice tray or basket and put the homemade fishing floats inside. You can add shells, starfish and flowers. I used mini succulents, and voila – my display was done!
Other decorating ideas for coastal decor with your fishing floats:
- Tie a bunch of them together and hang them
- Put little battery operated lights inside and use them in your garden for evening lights.
- Make mini versions and turn them into Christmas ornaments
- Add them to a crate with bottles, flowers and fairy lights for a rustic coastal decoration
- Hang one from a hook for a light touch of nautical decor in a bedroom
Where to buy glass fishing floats
If you are not into making yourself some homemade Japanese glass floats. You can of course buy them.
Etsy is a good place to hunt for vintage fishing floats. I found some great ones using the search term “fishing floats”.
Brand new fishing floats can be found at Wallmart, OneKingsLane and Wayfair.
Here are my favorites:
Amazon also has a nice collection of glass fishing floats accessories. This are my top favorites.