Liquid soap has become a staple in the modern American household, replacing the bar soap that was standard for so long. With its invention came the need for a dispenser. Some people choose to buy the disposable plastic dispensers that are sold by the soap manufacturers and simply buy a new dispenser when the old one is empty. Others want to have a permanent dispenser that matches the decor of the room and can be refilled, which is a cheaper option in the long run. I fell into the latter group, but I had problems getting what I wanted. The ceramic ones got chipped and broken when they were accidentally knocked into the sink, so I tried metal. It rusted. I turned to the inexpensive plastic ones sold in places like Wal-mart, but they were made of a brittle plastic that also tended to crack when they were knocked over, and they did not look as nice as the ceramic ones. Any money that I was saving on using the soap refills was being eaten up in purchasing new dispensers! There had to be a better way.
I began to wonder if I could make my own soap dispenser by reusing the pump from the broken dispenser and adding it to an empty container I had on hand. I scouted around my house for a bit and came up with several good options: a glass bottle (I have no idea where it came from!), a shower gel bottle complete with pump, and a hand lotion container. The glass bottle was already empty, so I began with it.
The first problem that had to be overcome was the shortness of the reused pump. The straw had been designed for a shorter dispenser and did not reach all the way to the bottom. My immediate thought was that an ordinary drinking straw might be the perfect solution. Okay, I confess. I save used drinking straws! I run them through the dish washer when they come to my house and save them for situations just like this one. You would be surprised how many times they come in really handy. So I turned to my stash and found one that was just large enough to slide over the existing straw on the pump and was the same translucent color. I put some glue designed to bond plastics at the top of the pump straw, slid the drinking straw in place and cut it off to the desired length. If you were not specifically looking for the straw, you would not guess that the pump had been altered.
The decision on how to decorate any particular project can often be overwhelming due to the number of options available. Should I use glass paint or leave the glass clear and decorate it with clear plastic stickers? Is a lot of decoration needed? Maybe I should just have it be a plain, solid color? Would a monogram look funny? Do people even put monograms on soap dispensers?! I decided to start with something simple and make decisions as I went along. I began by covering the glass in etching cream to give the bottle a frosty look and prevent it from being see-through. The label on the etching cream states that the etching cream is not designed to cover large areas, but “large” is a relative term, so that was not much help. I gave it a try anyway. The etching cream did not etch the glass evenly, but was somewhat blotchy. This, however, was not unattractive, and I liked the effect. I added the pump to see how it looked, but it was still not right. The shape of the bottle was too different from a standard soap dispenser and the plainness of the etching seemed to accentuate this point. However, the addition of some elegant clear plastic stickers transformed it into something beautiful! For the most part, the stickers adhered to the glass on their own, but some of the shorter ones wanted to return to a flat position rather than curl around the sides of the glass. To keep their edges from coming up, I used a toothpick to ease some household cement under them and pressed them into place.
After the plastic containers were empty, I turned my attention to them. This so-called disposable plastic is actually much more durable than the thicker, harder material that is so brittle. The first thing to do was to remove the labels. The front label on each container was paper, which was not too difficult to remove, but the one on the back was printed directly onto the plastic. This meant that it would have to be covered.
The fastest way to cover the plastic was to use spray paint specially formulated for plastic. For many people, the simplicity of this look will be all that they desire. But I wanted to explore other possibilities!
Using model paint that I had on hand from previous projects, I began applying layers of gray, silver, black, and white with a stencil brush. This was my attempt to mimic the look of stone, and though it is not as convincing as I might have hoped, it did make the dispenser look much more solid. I then sealed the paint with a high-gloss, water-resistant sealer. Since this bottle came with a gray pump, the finished dispenser looked put together.
Now I turned my attention to my final plastic container. On the glass bottle, the reused pump fit perfectly. The second container had its own pump. The third container, however, had a smaller neck than the size needed to screw on the pump. Fortunately, the old dispenser had a collar that could be glued onto the new container to adjust it to the needed size. For this dispenser I decided to use a technique that I had seen used on glass and wondered if it would work on plastic. I added several drops of green food coloring to some decoupage glue and painted the glue unto the container. It was not necessary to paint the bottom of the container since it would not be seen. Also, soap dispensers tend to sit in a puddle of water which makes having a plain plastic bottom desirable. Decoupage glue is designed to be water-resistant, but will not hold up to constant soaking. I applied three coats to the container, allowing it to dry between coats, which gave it a beautiful green color. However, the color was transparent and did not cover the printed label. Since I love birds and decorated my kitchen with them, I decoupaged the picture of a nest over the printing with some of the un-tinted glue. Once again, after the glue had dried, I sprayed the entire container with several coats of a high gloss sealer to make it more waterproof. I wondered how well the glue would hold up in the wet conditions around a sink, but it seems to do well as long as it is not subjected to constant soaking. I would probably not choose this method for a children’s bathroom as they tend to splash water everywhere, but for my household with teens, it is working fine. I now own a new, durable plastic, decorative dispenser, that matches my kitchen and cost me next to nothing!
I could not focus on soap and water for so long without thinking of the wonderful truth that the saints of God are cleansed forever of their sins by the blood of Jesus Christ! Isn’t being clean a wonderful feeling? After I have been exercising or working outdoors, the first thing I want to do when I am done is to take a shower. The soap and water are so refreshing! Being clean rejuvenates me and renews my outlook. How much more should the knowledge of our cleansing in Christ be a source of joy and refreshment to the mind of a Christian! The guilt and burden of my sin has been washed away. I am no longer an offense to the holy God but stand before Him clean and pure, a child of His favor. I rejoice today in the liberating joy of His cleansing!
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”1 John 1:7