Vintage Vanities

Lynn Schoeffler © 2006

Home - Articles  - Readers' Showcase  - Novices - Search-

When I purchased two vintage perfume bottles for birthday gifts, it occurred to me that it might be fun to dress them up a little with a special ribbon or something. Well, “something” evolved into these little beaded confections, and one more reason to haunt the flea markets.

So if you need a fun little project (think Christmas!) maybe a Vintage Vanity Vessel is what you're looking for…. and try saying that five times fast!

Dubbed “vanity vessels” by the Wheaton Arts Museum of Glass, perfume bottles come in a vast array of shapes, colors, sizes and price ranges; they can be found at your favorite antique store, flea market or your own dresser, for that matter. The bottles in the above photo ranged in price from $25 to $2 for the Avon Topaz bottle, which was manufactured to look like an emerald-cut topaz—remember those, ladies?

Two wonderful sites for viewing the history of perfume bottles are the Wheaton Museum and the Museu Del Perfum in Barcelona, Spain.

For each “vanity” you will need:

Perfume bottle, clean and dry**
Variety of buttons and beads, crystals, glass leaves
Silamide beading thread to match buttons/beads
Small wire cutters
Small jewelry pliers
Beading needles

Beaded Lariat with Ornament

Acrylic paint to match buttons
Larger center bead, approximately 6-7mm
E6000 glue

**Many times the old perfume in the bottles has turned into an oily, smelly mess! Remove it with a solution of baking soda and hot water. Usually there is a paper liner in the lid—it should also be removed, because the odor has concentrated there—very potent! If there is lettering on the bottle, soak it in a little acetone, then scrape the remainder of the lettering off with a window scraper.

Cut two squares of crinoline, slightly larger than you want the finished ornament, and paint each piece with acrylic paint in a color that matches most of your buttons. 


Let paint dry. Starting with the largest, sew buttons onto crinoline in a pleasing shape with matching Sylamide thread, remembering that too large an ornament might overwhelm your bottle. Add small rhinestone and bead details very close to the larger buttons, crowding them somewhat. For the black ornament, I added a tiny piece of heavy black lace that had been touched up with gold paint.

When beading is finished, cut the crinoline as close to the beads as possible, being very careful not to cut the beading thread.

Place the beaded crinoline on the un-painted side of the 2nd piece of crinoline, draw a line as close to the beading as possible, echoing the shape. Cut with small sharp scissors. Set aside.   

To attach ornament to lariat:
For the lariat, measure the distance around the neck of the bottle, and add one to six inches, depending on the size of the bottle (how far down do you want the ornament to hang?) Cut a piece of Sylamide thread this length and add a stopper bead, leaving a two-three inch tail. Add the large bead that will sit at the center neck of the bottle.

Add enough seed beads and crystals to fit around the neck of the bottle. Insert the needle back into the center bead and draw it through.   
Slip the neck of the bottle into the lariat. Adjust the tension by pulling the working thread through the center bead, until the strung beads lay snugly around the neck of the bottle (you may have to add or subtract a few beads). Knot thread securely through stopper bead, leaving 2-3 inches on both thread tails.   

To finish:
Sew the thread tails emerging from the lariat to the back side of the beaded crinoline with a few running stitches. You may need to use a heavier needle for this. Allow beaded piece to lay face up against the bottle to check the position. If it looks correctly positioned, knot the thread firmly on the crinoline, and cut the thread ends close to the knot. This part is somewhat tricky, as you are working to get the ornament in place on a slippery bottle. A folded dishtowel under the bottle will help hold it in place while you work.

Following the instructions for the E6000, glue the 2nd crinoline piece (painted side out) to the back of the beaded piece, matching edges as carefully as possible. Adding this backing will secure the stitches, and keep them from showing through the back of the bottle. Press the two pieces firmly together at all edges with tweezers. Let glue cure for 24-72 hours. Carefully trim away any crinoline edges that show from beneath the beads. A good pair of beading snippers works very well for this. Touch up raw edges of crinoline with paint, if necessary. 



Beaded Bouquet Style

Hand drill with l/16” bit or micro drill
Clip earring pad with holes (available where Western Trims are sold)
Small piece of felt in a dark color
Fireline beading thread, 4lb., size B
Beading wire—26 gauge
Clear fingernail polish
Spray paint for plastic, if desired
Thin shirt button sized to fit the inside of the bottle cap

For the bottle cap, use plastic spray paint to coordinate with bead color, if desired. I liked just a light spray of paint, giving the lid an old gold color. When the color is dry, spray with two coats of lacquer.

Using a l/16” or smaller drill bit, drill a hole in the center of the bottle lid. Set aside.

Cut lever from the earring pad. Cut a circle of felt the same size as the pad, and set aside. Spray paint the earring pad on both sides, let dry. Cut a piece of Fireline thread 10 to 12 inches long. Stitch random bars across any three holes on the earring pad, until there are several bars to hold your beads, horizontally and vertically (for the photo, I used black Sylamide thread, however, the Fireline is a lighter weight thread, and it will lay more closely to the pad.    

Cut a piece of beading wire about 10 inches long. Twist wire securely to the pad with beading pliers, over about three holes. This will form a handle to help hold the pad while you work, and will be used to attach the bouquet to the lid.

Begin to add the beads, starting in the center with the largest beads—cone shaped glass flowers work well here. Use the threads on the underside of the pad to secure beads into position by stitching with a backstitch or two. To add height to center flowers, secure them on top of a size 6 bead if necessary.   

To finish:
When all the desired beads have been added, paint underside of beaded earring pad with a thin coat of clear nail polish to secure thread knots. Let dry.

Since many of the bottle caps are slightly domed, use the circle of dark felt as a “gasket” between the beaded pad and the lid—cut a tiny hole at the center of the felt and thread the wire through the felt.

Position beaded pad with felt gasket underneath, then thread the wire through the hole in the cap. Thread a very thin shirt button onto the wire; push button up the wire with beading pliers until it sits firmly against the inside top of the lid. Twist the wire tightly with pliers, and cut a short tail. Coil twisted wire around end of beading pliers, and press firmly against the button. Check to see if the lid will screw correctly to the bottle. If the button is too thick, try a sewing snap—cut the center nub off.

Bead a simple lariat to match. Connect the lariat at the front by slipping the needle through a center bead.   
A simple collar was made for this bottle with a three-row ladder stitch. I added the plum glass flower and large leaf bead at one end, and then joined the ends together under the flower, by weaving the thread ends back through the ladder-stitched beads.   
Home - Articles  - Readers' Showcase  - Novices - Search-

Copyright © 2002 - 2011, All Rights Reserved
Editor: Published by: Pretty Impressive Stuff