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My next project...ideas?

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You know...I'm really glad I joined this Tikiholics Anonymous group with you people...looking at some of your home bars finally lets me know who the hell outbid me on some of the stuff on Ebay...Anywho, My next project is to build/make some of those glass ball fish float lamps like you see in Hala Kahiki and Trader Vics...I sure as hell don't want to take the old dremel to a real fish ball float...I'd get too pissed if I messed up...so, should I use a couple of bowls, or are there sources for big glass orbs? Also, what kind of paint would you guys speculate on...and would it be more advantageous to paint the inside or outside?...Geez...I feel like we're a bunch of guys standing around my car with the hood open...Mahalo, Grey


I'm anxious to know how to do this, too. There is a place in Benicia that sells large good looking floats at a reasonable price, and I for one want to light mine up!


I've never used it, but I hear Gallery Glass paint, available at Michaels, works very well. It comes in several translucent colors. I would paint the inside, but I don't know how heat-resistant the paint is, so I'm not sure about lights.

Laney posted this:

"For those of you in O.C. CA I found large glass floats, probably new, tied with heavy rope, for $28.95 for a 39" around (measured over the ropes)at the Orange County Marketplace in Costa Mesa. They are about the size of a watermelon. I got a blue, red and purple. I paid cash and he threw in a small one and didn't charge tax. The guy was nice and helped me (sent his assistant) to my car. This is the lowest price I've found anywhere. The swapmeet will go for about 2 more weeks before the fair starts"

use the search feature and use keyword "FLOAT" in the subject line..

On 2002-08-16 18:07, Biotron2000 wrote:
I've never used it, but I hear Gallery Glass paint, available at Michaels, works very well. It comes in several translucent colors. I would paint the inside, but I don't know how heat-resistant the paint is, so I'm not sure about lights.

Gallery Glass can be used to make faux-Tiffany lampshades (painted on the outside), so it probably stands up to heat OK.

The manufacturer's website is http://www.plaidonline.com.

--cindy, closet craft geek


As for making a glass float, I have to believe it's better to buy, if you shop around. If you ask a question like "how can I make one, and where can I get glass bowls" it just seems like a lot of trouble. Not trying to be a smart-alek, but it just seems from what I have seen and heard here, you can find what you want for better prices than what we have seen on Ebay for the big glass floats with nets.

As for lighting: I have been researching this with some electronics geeks, but have yet to do my floats and blowfish lights. It does seem that the floats around are more matte, translucent than mine which are very clear. So, maybe a clear matte spray would make them look much better once lighted. I wouldn't do color. Just get colored floats and spray them matte on the outside.

Don't worry about heat, because, you won't be putting that much light/heat into them. You want that authentic, dark, tiki bar look. And if you are lighting your blowfish, you really can't get very bright/hot.

My thoughts are to build the lights from radio shack parts. There's a good chance they, or other electronics places can guide you. You want the smallest diode they have. Tiny. And you want the thinnest wire you can run to it so you can hide it. It won't take much juice, so you won't need a heavy gauge wire. You also want to put it on a capstan (dimmer) so you can play with it's light once done. The guys I talked to around here said I should run all this off a battery. I am just wondering how long a battery would hold up. I'd rather find a converter. And that brings me to my next ideas. Model trains. Find a hobby shop for model trains. They make lots of tiny little lights and have all the hook ups to run it of wall current, because they make all these little houses and stuff that use just the sort of wattage and detail we are looking for. So, what I really think you want is gonna be found fast and easy at a train hobby shop. A spool of thin wire, a transformer and a few tiny bulbs and a soldering iron and you have it licked.

And on an added note, you could also run a few more lights off that to other places. For instance, you can run several under the lip of your bar and maybe inside the bar for nice ambient light. Illuminate that awesome bamboo bar you paid good money for/made for all to see in you dimly lit tiki domicile. These little lights will have a thousand great purposes as accent lights for every wonderful piece of Hawaiiana in your bar. A small shield attached diretcs the light to your tikis, mugs, etc. and allows you to see them well without destroying the mood.

Well, there's my 6 cents worth. (my 2 cents and the two electronics geeks I chatted with.)

This Burning Man page has a few high and low voltage illumination device vendors:


High output LEDs and electroluminescent wire are most popular. Some suppliers have sequencing controllers and voltage converters already made up. Worth a look.


An LED on a battery (9V or 2xAA) will last a heck of a long time, and would be a simple solution for a puffer fish. I'm going to do it to one of mine and I'lll let you know how it works.

As for the floats, I'd like to get something like a 20w appliance bulb into my larger floats- I just don't know how to make a hole 2-3 inches across in the glass to accomodate the bulb.


I dind a dremel works great on cutting into glass floats...just sink in a few pilot holes with a straight dremel drill bit to relieve pressure, then use a cutting wheel....puffer fish I've done the same way...just make sure you wear a mask...there is some odious dust flying offa blowfish hide...I recently went down to a local lamp store...lo and behold...perfect glass orbs with three inch diameter openings, both clear and frosted...diameters from 12 to 36 inches...so they are out there...just look for a local lamp store that specializes in vintage replacement parts....they'll even make a lamp for you...whatever color and netting you want...if you feel so inclined to let someone wlse do it for you...Good luck, Grey

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