Tuesday, November 14, 2017

DIY 3D Portholes

Recently, I undertook the task of completely making over my son's room. I have to say, I had a lot of fun redesigning this room. Even better was his reaction to the transformation. Slowly, I am accomplishing small projects to really make his room pop - like these DIY portholes! 

I originally suggested having porthole vinyl decals next to his bed so it appears he is looking out to sea. He loved the idea. Then I had a conversation with my father, who suggested 3D portholes would be more realistic and way cooler. Why are you trying to create more work for me Dad?(Even though your idea IS awesome)

Rather than go through the trouble of cutting perfect circles out of plywood, I decided there MUST be something circular on this planet that I can use instead. I also researched the web for ideas and surprisingly really didn't find much help. So, this project was entirely all guess work and pure luck. Which explains why I had to redo them multiple times after trial and error. 

This tutorial will provide the basics, optional material and what ultimately worked for me. What I envisioned was a 3 dimensional porthole with material that mimicked glass and rivets as well. The hardest part was finding what looked like glass, but wasn't glass, that I could cut. Clear acrylic sheet! Who knew this existed? Because I totally knew, just testing you. Honestly, I cannot even remember who first enlightened me to its existence, but this is the part where you bat your eyes at someone with knowledge of a jigsaw and ask them to please cut circles for you (or do it yourself if you're so inclined, but I wasn't).

I will do my best to explain this without being too wordy. Note: the photos will not be entirely accurate, as I mentioned I redid this multiple times. 


Supplies:
Craft floral rings (found in floral section of craft store - no clue these existed either!)
Clear acrylic sheet (Lowes)
Wood furniture buttons (craft store)
Hot glue gun (didn't really work for me)
Wood glue
Paint-able Caulk
Spray paint
Handles (optional)
Panoramic ocean view poster
Rubber cement

To start with, I was super excited that the floral rings had perfectly spaced holes around the diameter. Step saved! Nobody likes math. I traced two floral rings on my acrylic sheet then my husband measured inward about 1/2 inch in diameter and redrew the circle using a compass. At this point, I had no idea why in the world he was cutting my acrylic sheets 1/2 inch smaller. I wanted the "glass" flush with the floral ring so there was no gap. Later on, I realized that from the beginning he thought we needed to use caulk. Why would I need caulk? I have glue. Whatever. A specific blade for cutting glass with a jigsaw was required, but it was not expensive at all. 


I used 2 floral rings per porthole with the clear acrylic sheet in between. I removed the film (save this!) from the acrylic sheet and hot glued one sheet in between 2 floral rings. Maybe some of you would like to skip this entire step of adding "glass", but for me I believe this makes the porthole more realistic. I then hot glued the furniture buttons and handles, covered the "glass" with the film I had removed. This will protect your clear sheet from spray paint.


I spray painted each porthole in gold, to resemble a brassy look. Looking pretty spiffy huh?

I was pretty impressed with myself at this point, but that lasted all of about 15 mins. I showed everyone the cool portholes and my daughter said, "Wow, does it open?" at the exact same time she pulled on the handle. Snap. Insert red face emoji here. OK, so maybe I didn't add enough hot glue? I removed the old glue residue and this time I added a lot more, filling the underside of the handle and around the edges. Then I had to spray paint again, because this is just a craft ring made of thick cardboard so it ripped the surface. I re-glued the second porthole handle as well. Repainted. And thought I was done. I wasn't. 

Ultimately the hot glue was not strong enough to keep the handles on or even the furniture buttons. Upon further inspection the acrylic sheets were not stable enough either. Back to the drawing board. This is were my husband says, I told you it needed caulk. Because he's a guy and they caulk every thing. It's like man glue. I popped off all the furniture buttons, hot glued where need between the floral rings and acrylic sheet, then my husband applied caulk between the seams.

Be sure to clamp carefully so you do not crack the "glass". It will crack like glass. Use the same type clamps around the diameter so the height is equal. We used different clamps on one porthole (as pictured) and as the caulk dried it warped, since the clamps were different heights. The rings are cardboard so it is easy to warp them. I had to lay that one flat and put a heavy object on it for a day or two, so it would return to normal. 


After pondering on what glue to use for the furniture buttons, I opted for wood glue over Gorilla glue. The furniture buttons are wood, cardboard basically is too and Gorilla glue expands - no. Once the caulk dried and hardened, I used Elmer's wood glue to reapply all the furniture buttons. Did I reuse the handles? Heck no. Forget it. I'm not going there again. Plenty of portholes have only rivets and that is the kind we will have! The wood glue is holding very well and I resprayed both portholes in gold, including the edges to cover the caulk. 

I ordered a poster from eBay with a panoramic ocean view. I wanted to ensure both portholes were a continuous scene. Once you determine what part of the poster you want in your portholes, cut them out to size. I just traced around the porthole and cut. 


I used Elmer's rubber cement to carefully glue the poster to the back of the porthole. 


FINALLY...portholes! 


We installed simple hanging hardware and hung them on nails. Be sure you install your hardware directly in the center so your horizon lines up correctly when hung!

Once again the finished product photo. I just love how these turned out. I learned some new things along the way too. Maybe using real wood would have prevented some of my mishaps, but in the long run I spent less and didn't have to labor through cutting and sanding wood. It does not take a long time to create, if you avoid making the mistakes I did :) Hopefully this tutorial will inspire you to create your own portholes and help navigate the way. 

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