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Tip Jar Security: How I Secure my “Fish Bowl” Tip Jar

My new tip jar!

I almost never use tip jars.  Well, there was one Christmas gig where we agreed with the client to put out tip jars just because they refused to hire enough artists for the crowd and we worked our hineys off.  Other than that, I only tried using a tip jar once this past week at my county fair.  I do pay per face at the fair and never have had a jar out.  I always get good tips anyway, with no tip jar and no hints of tipping visible.  But, this year I experimented and tried it just for one day.  I had one of those cute plush “Teddy Tank” fish bowls burning a hole in my closet that I had gotten for $5 at Walgreens and had to at least try it!  I don’t know if I’ll use it again or not, as I feel I charge enough already.   But, I get SO swamped at the fair, and being located right by the building entrance, I figured it would be awfully easy for someone to grab the jar off my table and run.  I actually know one painter who was mugged after a face painting job, and have heard multiple stories of others who’s tip jars were stolen, which makes me extra leery.  So, I set out to find a way to secure my jar so that it wouldn’t be an easy target. 

I took photos along the way and thought those of you who have these same fish bowl jars (they seem super popular lately) might find it useful!  This can likely be adapted to any plastic tip jar but here’s what I did with my fish bowl! (you can skip all the rivet/eyelet stuff if you just have a plastic jar!)

Remove the plush piece from the plastic bowl. Cut a small hole in the center of the bottom of the fabric piece of your plush animal.

Slip a rivet through the hole, with the finished side on the right side (outside, furry side) of the fabric.

View of the rivet poking through the inside of the fabric.  Point to it with your henna’d finger…ha!

Use your hammer and rivet tool to secure the rivet in place.   You can buy these large eyelets/rivets at craft stores and they come with the little tool to hammer.

Finished rivet. This now enables you to run a bolt through your fabric, without causing it to run, frey, etc.

Finished rivet

Now drill a small hole in the center of the bottom of your plastic bowl.  I am using my dremmel tool here but you can use a drill bit as well.

Now you need a little hardware.  Get a washer, bolt and nut.  You also need something to secure the jar to.  I happened to find a great bent metal piece that came from a towel rack that hooks over a door.  You could find a metal bar or a piece of wood and drill a hole in it as well.

Reassemble the fish bowl by placing the plush back over the bowl, aligning the eyelet with the hole in the bowl.  Thread the screw through your securing bar/wood/whatever, then through the rivet/eyelet in your fabric and hole in your fish bowl.

Inside view of the fish bowl, with a washer and then bolt threaded on.

Now you have a bar that is securely screwed to the base of your tip jar.  Like I said, this can be a metal bar, a wood piece, or whatever you have on hand.  The point here is to have something that you can then clamp or screw right to your tabletop.            
Now I got lucky to find this piece of metal that was already bent like a hook, which fit just right over the back edge of my table!  I then took a large clamp and clamped this bar to the underside of the table, which you can’t even see here as it’s behind my tablecloth.  Even a flat piece though could be clamped down to the table with a simple C-clamp.  Or, screwed into the table if you are okay with drilling a hole in your table.
I like how this looked in the end.  It doesn’t look like my jar is bolted down…it’s just sitting there nicely, but if someone were to try to grab it and run, I would definitely notice and it would not be easy for them to remove it.

I did notice that with this particular tip jar people had no idea how to put tips in.  I just put sticker letters that say “thank you,” as opposed to what some do, “feed me.”  I’m thinking if I ever use it again, I may put a cardboard tube or something in the monkey’s mouth to spread his mouth open just a bit, so that people notice that the money goes in his mouth.  Most of the time people just handed me tips and I stuffed them through the hole in the back.  (Which also made me think I’d like to make some sort of flap to cover the hole in the back for security as well)

I hope this is helpful for some of you, or at the very least gives you some ideas to secure your own tip jar!  Thanks for stopping by, and happy painting! 🙂

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