DIY Brass Bells

14 December

Today's project is a true trash to treasure, it's a toilet paper roll craft!


Have you seen those really cool-looking rustic vintage brass bells that so many people display at Christmas time?


I happen to have one... but only one... so I decided to try to create my own bells from stuff I have on hand and a TP tube!


DIY Brass Bells


DIY Brass Bells

Those look pretty real, don't they? I think so. Here is the authentic one I have that I used as my model.


DIY Brass Bells

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Supplies Needed:
  • Toilet paper or paper towel tubes (2 TP tubes per bell)
  • Gesso (optional)
  • Spackle
  • Dark brown craft paint
  • Metallic gold craft paint
  • Rub n' Buff
  • Paper straw
  • Large needle
  • String (to attach the clapper)
  • Jute twine (to make a hanger)
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks


Step 1: Cut the parts for the bell.


You should have two toilet paper tubes or one paper towel tube. I'll assume you're using a toilet paper tube like I am, if you are using a paper towel tube, just adjust your measurements accordingly.


Cut one tube in half.

DIY Brass bells

Then cut down one side of the half tube to open it up.

DIY Brass Bells

Next cut a strip from that tube that measures about 1/2" wide or so. This will become the bottom lip of the bell.

DIY Brass Bells

Cut another strip, slightly thinner than the first, and glue the ends together to form a circle that is smaller than it was originally. This will become the loop on top of the bell.

DIY Brass Bells

Cut a circle from the other half of the tube by flattening it out, tracing around the tube, and then cutting slightly outside the line. This will become the top of the bell.

DIY Brass Bells

Step Two: Create the bell clapper.


You will use a paper straw to create a clapper (the part inside a real bell that makes the noise). cut the straw so it is about the same length as the bell.


You will also use a large needle, some heavy string (embroidery floss would work too), and the circle that you cut in step one.

DIY Brass Bells

Thread the needle with the string, tie a knot in one end, and then push it through the sides of the paper straw. Don't do this too close to the end of the straw or it'll just tear through. I went through it a couple times so it wouldn't slide on the string.

DIY Brass Bells

Next. poke the needle up through the center of the circle you cut and back down. Leave a couple of inches of string showing so the clapper dangles and is not tight against the cardboard circle, then knot it on the inside.

DIY Brass Bells

Now paint the straw dark brown. You don't HAVE to paint it at this point but it will be much harder to paint once it's attached inside the bell... ask me how I know... 😂

Step Three: Assemble the Bell.

Glue the cardboard circle with the clapper onto the top of the toilet paper tube so the clapper dangles inside the bell.

DIY Brass Bells

Run a bead of hot glue around the edge of the top. This will be what will look like a weld where the bell is joined together and will make it more authentic looking.

DIY Brass Bells

Glue the small ring to the top.

DIY Brass Bells

Glue the large strip of the tube that you cut in step one to the bottom of the bell.

DIY Brass Bells

Step Four: Paint and spackle the bell.


Paint the bell first with Gesso (this step is optional). Gesso is a thick-bodied white primer that is used to prepare a surface for paint. You can skip this step altogether or use regular white craft paint. I chose Gesso because I thought it would help fill in the lines on the toilet paper.

Once the Gesso has dried, add spackle to the tube with your fingers. Use it mostly on the areas where the pieces of cardboard meet (along the edge of the bottom strip, along the top edge, and along the seam of the tube) and to fill in the ring on the bottom of the bell since the ends no longer meet.

DIY Brass Bells

I'll be honest... this is the most difficult step I think. The spackle doesn't want to stick to the cardboard very well. I really had to smash it down onto the tube and smear it at the same time to get it applied.

But once you've got some on, just leave it to dry for an hour or so then gently brush off any really loose pieces once it's dry.


Coat one: paint the whole piece with dark brown (including inside the bottom edge as far as you can). Allow that to dry.

DIY Brass Bells

Coat two: paint the whole piece metallic gold (do NOT paint the inside OR the clapper). Allow that to dry.

DIY Brass Bells

Coat three: use your finger dipped into dark brown paint and smear it over the top. Make this very rough with uneven coverage. You are creating layers to make it look old.

DIY Brass Bells

The bells should look something like this at this point.

DIY Brass Bells

Coat four: finally, use your finger and Rub n' Buff and go over the bell. Rub n' Buff is a paste wax with metallic powders infused into it and it creates a beautiful, antiqued finish. I used the antique gold color.


A little goes a long way with this stuff and you do not want the entire surface completely covered. some of the gold and dark brown should show through. (My bad, I forgot to get a picture of this step but do it the same way as you did the last coat... with your fingers).

DIY Brass Bells

Step Five: Add the final touches.


Use a small, round paintbrush or Q-tip and add some dark brown paint in any of the recessed areas created by the spackle that appear too shiny gold for your taste. I also did this along the bottom where the cardboard strip meets the side of the tube and along the top in the same way. Wipe away any excess.


Paint inside the bottom edge of the clapper with this small brush too.


Add a jute twine hanger and display as you wish! I added mine to a Christmas wreath. Here is a side-by-side comparison of the original, authentic brass bell with my DIY brass bells!

DIY Brass Bells

What do you think?! I'm pretty pleased with how this totally experimental project turned out!!

DIY Brass Bells

DIY Brass Bells

DIY Brass Bells

Now let me show you my mantle... 


This is the ONLY place in my home I'm decorating since we are closing on our new house next week!

DIY Brass Bells

DIY Brass Bells

DIY Brass Bells

There's the Upcycled Star Candle Holder - Thrift Shop Flip I created a few days ago!

DIY Brass Bells

I thrifted this box of vintage clay ornaments over the summer. I just love them!

DIY Brass Bells

I think they are handmade, they are on my tiny mantle tree this year 😊

DIY Brass Bells

DIY Brass Bells

I hope you enjoyed this post and that you are frantically searching your recycle bin for some TP tubes now! 😂 If you did enjoy this post, please pin!

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DIY Brass Bells

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  1. I love the bells! They're very realistic looking and in the wreath is a perfect way to display them.
    Your mantle looks so pretty and festive. The way the wreath is displayed kinda surrounded by the round baskets looks perfect!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I wish I could do more decorating but I just don't see the point right now :)

      Delete
  2. I am impressed all to H...E....double toothpicks! They look so authentic! I also love your mantle decor and you reminded me that I have a whole bunch of vintage chenille trim myself. I'm going to have to dig it out! Those bells are just amazing!

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  3. That is so creative! I'm always surprised at how you come up with these clever ideas.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow Tania, they look so realistic! What a great idea and I really like how you displayed them in a wreath. But there are so many other ways they could be incorporated into holiday decor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Marie! I know, I debated on how to display longer than it took me to make them I think! haha!

      Delete
  5. Tania,
    WOW- I had to see it to believe it! Your bells are gorgeous. You really are amazing!
    Can you hear me ? I'm clapping for you :)
    xo Lisa S

    ReplyDelete
  6. Very clever and authentic looking! You did a great job on that Tania!

    ReplyDelete
  7. These turned out fabulous! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm and happy holidays! xo Kathleen

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  8. Your bells turned out great Tania! It definitely is a true trash to treasure project.

    ReplyDelete
  9. wow, these DIY bells are totally amazing and look so real! I was late to the party this year trying to find them and they were super expensive. Your diy bells look like the real thing. I could hardly believe they weren't. You did a super job and great step by step pics. I'm sharing this on All About Home Link Party this evening. Thanks for coming by linking up!

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  10. You sure fooled me! These adorable brass Christmas bells truly look authentic! Just LOVE this style of bell and will consider making some now when I need a size I don't have! Brilliant tutorial.

    ReplyDelete

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