Shop Etsy

How-Tuesday: Make a Recycled Vase

Apr 12, 2011

by Julie Schneider

Have April showers driven you inside to your craft nook? Follow the lead of artist and creative reuse whiz Lee Christopher Hughes and pluck a plastic bottle from the recycling bin, transforming it into a vase to hold May flowers. 

Hughes is an artist and dad based in Allentown, Pennsylvania, who has found a way to transform plastic castoffs and hardware store treasures into elegant art objects and home decor. Today’s How-Tuesday features a video by Amanda Danziger from Ferasha Films.

I’ve been creating artwork for the past few years. I like to take recyclable items, particularly plastic bottles, and use them as the basis for creating decorative vases. I know, that probably sounds nuts, but you would be surprised how sturdy these items are! I think they are pretty unique — I actually had a hard time finding a category where they fit.



Supplies you’ll need:

  • Plastic bottle
  • Pen/thin magic marker
  • Utility knife or small hacksaw blade (for cutting styrofoam and for cutting off top of bottle)
  • Scissors
  • Styrofoam (preferably at least 1” thick)
  • Sandpaper
  • Scrap paper
  • Glue
  • Ruler
  • Heavy poster board (one side shiny)
  • Hot glue gun
 and hot glue
  • Joint compound
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush(es)
  • Felt (for the base)


1. Select a plastic bottle. A 2-liter bottle, 1-liter bottle, or any cylindrical plastic bottle will do.

2. Cut the bottom portion of the bottle off using a utility knife. You can use the bottom edge of the bottle’s label as a cutting guide.

3. Place bottle on a chunk of Styrofoam and trace the bottom circle. Cut the Styrofoam a little bit bigger than it will need to be to fit into the bottom of the bottle. Use sandpaper to smooth the Styrofoam down so it’ll fit nice and snug into the bottom of the bottle.

4. Cut a piece of paper with four lines across the bottom to give you a guide, then attach to the bottom of your bottle.

5. Take a piece of paper and fold it in half — any kind of scrap paper you have lying around will do. Use this centerfold as a guide to create a petal shape, with a straight tab at one end. Trace your shape onto a stiffer paper (cardstock, posterboard, cardboard, etc.) to create your template. Use the template to trace the shape onto scrap paper, then cut it out. You’ll need at least 8-10 petals, depending on the size of your bottle.

6. Hot glue four petals evenly around your bottle, adhering at the top and bottom of your bottle. Then glue the remaining petals to cover the gaps around the bottle.

7. Now it’s time to use the joint compound. Smooth the joint compound all over your project, paying special attention to the places where the paper petals overlap. Let it dry, sand it off, and vacuum off any dust.

8. Paint it any color you’d like. Let it dry, cover the base with a small piece of felt, and you’re done!

Thank you to Lee Christopher Hughes and filmmaker Amanda Danziger for sharing this project with us. For more more inspiration, check out CLCollection and Ferasha Films.

Recycling Projects | More How-Tuesday Posts 


  • MegansMenagerie

    MegansMenagerie said 6 years ago

    Love this!!! Awesome!

  • blessmybiscuits

    blessmybiscuits said 6 years ago


  • lovelygifts

    lovelygifts said 6 years ago

    Awesome! Great video!

  • YellowViolet

    YellowViolet said 6 years ago

    Very clever with great results! Bravo!

  • dirtygirlclean

    dirtygirlclean said 6 years ago

    love the video! perfect vases for some succulent arrangements...

  • BlueEyedShell

    BlueEyedShell said 6 years ago

    Very cool! I am putting it on my list of 'to-dos' :)

  • Erinle

    Erinle said 6 years ago

    It's just amazing! Great video! Like it very much:)

  • FluffyFlowers

    FluffyFlowers said 6 years ago

    perfect for my fluffy flowers :)

  • ohbabydotcom

    ohbabydotcom said 6 years ago

    great items! very creative : )

  • paramountvintage

    paramountvintage said 6 years ago

    wow, the end product is amazing!

  • withlovemandy

    withlovemandy said 6 years ago

    Holy Moly - how cool is this?

  • VivaGailBeads

    VivaGailBeads said 6 years ago

    wow...these are beautiful!

  • auntjanecan

    auntjanecan said 6 years ago

    This is great!!!!!

  • akemanartist

    akemanartist said 6 years ago

    That is a pretty neat video. And some of your vases look like gourds, pretty cool!

  • HorizonDr

    HorizonDr said 6 years ago

    Wooo hooo for recycled projects! We're the ones that make the world go round! LOVE this!

  • SchneiderGallery

    SchneiderGallery said 6 years ago

    very impressive, love it!

  • SeaGlassJournal

    SeaGlassJournal said 6 years ago

    Any idea that transforms refuse into art is a fantabulous idea indeed. Thanks! Gary

  • BadtodaBone

    BadtodaBone said 6 years ago

    "OMG " the end product is beautiful, love the aged color.

  • bittersweetpunkin

    bittersweetpunkin said 6 years ago

    That's very clever indeed!

  • LoveYourBling

    LoveYourBling said 6 years ago

    very unique

  • pigfeathers

    pigfeathers said 6 years ago

    Thank you for sharing , I think you are a wonderful conservator . Wonderful kids sounds like they get it .

  • UnaOdd

    UnaOdd said 6 years ago

    What a great and resourceful idea! Beautiful results.

  • StudioZen

    StudioZen said 6 years ago


  • MaLaMiNaKaNo

    MaLaMiNaKaNo said 6 years ago

    It's absolutely amazing!!!! Beautiful and recycled!!!! Love it!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Exaltation

    Exaltation said 6 years ago

    Wow!! These look so chic and elegant and they're SO simple!! I really want to try this project. Chic recycles, FTW

  • Exaltation

    Exaltation said 6 years ago

    Wow!! These look so chic and elegant and they're SO simple!! I really want to try this project. Chic recycles, FTW

  • PaulaArt

    PaulaArt said 6 years ago

    very cool, love lee's vases! you would never know those were plastic bottles, BRILLIANT! i'm thrilled to have mine here too thank you!

  • 5280bliss

    5280bliss said 6 years ago

    recycling at its finest!!! beautiful!!! ♥ shirley

  • designsonpark

    designsonpark said 6 years ago

    Very creative!

  • SquattingGypsy

    SquattingGypsy said 6 years ago

    Awesome idea!

  • JDWolfePottery

    JDWolfePottery said 6 years ago

    Wow! Those are cool!

  • rarebeasts

    rarebeasts said 6 years ago

    Great howto!

  • APieceofFake

    APieceofFake said 6 years ago

    So great! I am definitely going to try this. Thanks for the greaet "how to!"

  • HvZjewelry

    HvZjewelry said 6 years ago

    How cool is this?

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 6 years ago

    Wow amazing work, you'd never tell that theres a plastic bottle under there. Really like the textures.

  • poorjimsvintage

    poorjimsvintage said 6 years ago

    so cool! It would look good painted.

  • girliepains

    girliepains said 6 years ago

    UM! that's insanely cool!

  • DeShawnMarie

    DeShawnMarie said 6 years ago

    Extremely genius! Thanks so much for sharing a bit of your life and world with us. Really cool!

  • Armalique

    Armalique said 6 years ago

    Very very cool, and very original. I love how its made from recycled materials!

  • HappyDappyBits

    HappyDappyBits said 6 years ago

    Wow, this is incredibly creative, very cool! Will have to watch the video on my computer tomorrow, isn't showing up on my iPad. Great shop, too!

  • theroyal

    theroyal said 6 years ago

    wow. these are incredible

  • theroyal

    theroyal said 6 years ago

    did i mention that i love how tuesday

  • SkateBetty

    SkateBetty said 6 years ago

    Cool idea! Thanks for sharing. Cool shop too!

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 6 years ago


  • webTheVintageAngel

    webTheVintageAngel said 6 years ago

    wow! Who would have thought that rubbish could be so textural x

  • DesignsStainedGlass

    DesignsStainedGlass said 6 years ago

    Awesome - will definitely make a few of these. Thanks for sharing.

  • DJAjewels

    DJAjewels said 6 years ago

    Absolutely love this idea!

  • kathyjohnson3

    kathyjohnson3 said 6 years ago

    I love your "message in a bottle" what a great idea, your items are so beautiful! Congratulations!

  • lauraprentice

    lauraprentice said 6 years ago

    Wow, I would have never figured out how to do that.......

  • VespertineSilver

    VespertineSilver said 6 years ago

    I LOVE this! Who would have thought you could make something so beautiful from old bottles and paper!

  • ModernShop

    ModernShop said 6 years ago

    Wow that's so great! Keep up the eco-friendly work!

  • silversamba

    silversamba said 6 years ago

    love this!

  • sarahndipities

    sarahndipities said 6 years ago

    Whoa! So cool!

  • chillien

    chillien said 6 years ago

    Oh wow! I am constantly amazed at peoples creativity. Congratulations on your feature, it is very deserved. I love the fact that your vases are so eco-friendly. Looking at the finished product, I never would have thought that making them would be so simple.

  • inaflashopalinlay

    inaflashopalinlay said 6 years ago

    Great Feature, neat way to be green, the world needs more artist like you. Congratulations.

  • meganesass

    meganesass said 6 years ago

    What an awesome project! Love the video!! You make it look so easy... and the result is beautiful. And I'm honored to have my knit covered jars mentioned as a related item to your recycled vases! THANK YOU to CL and Julie!!! :D

  • theobscureabluvion

    theobscureabluvion said 6 years ago

    What a great project. Too cool!

  • amysfunkyfibers

    amysfunkyfibers said 6 years ago

    Thank you for sharing! The possibilities are endless!

  • pinkpurr

    pinkpurr said 6 years ago

    Fantastic idea! I'm wondering if you really have to cut off the bottom from the bottle... perhaps make a bigger vase in exactly the same way without the bottom cut out/replaced with foam and use end result to hold a fresh flower... might have to seal the outside a bit and be a little careful in pouring water into it. Thanks for inspiration! I am spilling over with the potential of these bulky bottles. Getting to work now!


    RAMBLENROSE said 6 years ago

    There beautiful! Looks like some are carved out of white birch. Some look like sea-erchants. Some look like gourds. At any rate they are really cool. Is there something i could put on mine that can seal the joint compound so that it can be used out side as a birdhouse? What do ou suggest.?

  • Joystreet

    Joystreet said 6 years ago

    Very neat; have been looking at the colors of plastic bottles, enjoying them as art, and now you make them sing!

  • mslizz

    mslizz said 6 years ago

    wow, great idea

  • prendasbyenid

    prendasbyenid said 6 years ago

    Love this!!! Go Green!!!

  • samanthaqueen

    samanthaqueen said 6 years ago

    Beautiful work, bottles yee haaa!!!!!

  • DandelionJewels

    DandelionJewels said 6 years ago

    I love seeing what people do with found materials. I love this idea, the vases are beautiful!

  • DandelionJewels

    DandelionJewels said 6 years ago

    I love seeing what people do with found materials. I love this idea, the vases are beautiful!

  • FayceCards

    FayceCards said 6 years ago

    What a creative and beautiful product! Greenies rule!

  • Christine2011

    Christine2011 said 6 years ago

    Its awesome.

  • HandyDuo

    HandyDuo said 6 years ago

    great ideas! gonna make sth from plastic bottles myself

  • NaturalVintage

    NaturalVintage said 6 years ago

    OMG! Fantastic, creative, wonderful idea! Can't wait to try one myself! Thanks for sharing your creativity!

  • CocoCottage

    CocoCottage said 6 years ago

    Ultra cool! I hope, when I try this, it looks as good as yours!! God bless!

  • 4UbyK8

    4UbyK8 said 6 years ago

    What a fun idea! Thank you for sharing! -Kate

  • IMadethis4You

    IMadethis4You said 6 years ago

    thanks for inspiring me not to just throw my next plastic bottle straight into the recycle. I will continue my mantra of "I can make that!" You've been a blessing to me today ;*)

  • KilnFiredArt

    KilnFiredArt said 6 years ago

    How cool

  • dickandfranny

    dickandfranny said 6 years ago

    Lovely video, thanks for sharing your technique! :-)

  • ThePerfectParfleche

    ThePerfectParfleche said 6 years ago

    Wow! Just viewed the video--it was great. I like the idea of using items that would go into a landfill. I save plastic bottles with "good" shapes--now I have something else to try! Thanks for sharing.

  • ripecardsandjewelry

    ripecardsandjewelry said 6 years ago

    That is amazing!! I can't believe what it looks like in the end. :)

  • MakeABasket

    MakeABasket said 6 years ago

    i love that you emphasize the recycling aspect of this project. Thanks so much for reusing our trash and for sharing your innovation with the world!

  • DeniseDoesCouture

    DeniseDoesCouture said 6 years ago

    very cool! I'm going to make one for myself. Thank you for sharing!

  • pasin

    pasin said 6 years ago

    Wonderful, thanks

  • gnormyle

    gnormyle said 6 years ago

    Wow I like this!!!!!!!

  • pinksnakejewelry

    pinksnakejewelry said 6 years ago

    Very Cool!!! Love the shapes and technique used to create these amazing vases!!!

  • HildeMosaics

    HildeMosaics said 6 years ago

    Thank you for sharing,

  • BlueMoonShadows

    BlueMoonShadows said 6 years ago

    WOW! Very very cool...Christopher I love your craft. I recycle/repurpose all the time, but this is even cooler!! Thank you Christoperh and Julie for sharing!! Time to do more for our environment...thanks for the push!!

  • phamminhloan

    phamminhloan said 6 years ago

    Great tutorial! i love it.

  • deannaprice1

    deanna price said 6 years ago

    I's like your skiping a step in your video - after you hot glue your 4 petals you say - you quickly take the initial template from the first four pieces and hold it on the bottle, then your not clear after that. Your initial template is one piece. I would of liked to of seen you finish adding all the other petals more clearly, thats where you lose me, I understand using the joint compound step and so on. also there is no mention about the pencil you use in the video, I'm guessing your curling the paper. Would love a reply, your vases are so cool. Thank you.

Sign in to add your own