Dec 6, 2015

Up cycling Glass Bottles Into Home Decor

Upcycled bottles make beautiful candle holders (for votives tea lights etc., or pour your own soy or wax) vases, condiment holders, planters, toothpick dispensers, and even drinking glasses -  perfect for outdoor entertaining and picnics.  It's easy to cut them, shape them, and put them together creatively; you can use wine, beer or soda bottles and glass jars.  

You've  probably seen several methods for cutting glass. One of them involves wrapping string soaked in alcohol around a bottle, setting it on fire, and the glass cracks. Another is making a score mark with a glass cutter then using a blowtorch to pop apart the pieces at the score line. All of them have a downside; about half will be left with stress cracks or crooked edges and you either ditch the bottle or grind or sand down the edges until they're perfect. 

I use a simple technique that involves a regular glass cutter and water.  You can use my DIY method - which is more difficult since you have to hold the bottle perfectly to create a single score line - or buy a device that holds bottles in place that perfect score. If you're making a number of items for gifts and wedding centerpieces, it's wise to get the device. 

The KEY to success is a single score line versus multiple passes which create jagged edges. The single score line is simple so don't be tempted to keep going around the bottle thinking that the deeper the line the easier the cut.  That isn't true; the single score creates a perfect line. 

You can find many cutters online at places like that age priced from $18 to $100. You can also make your own jig and use a $4 glass cutter (There are YouTube videos that show you how that's constructed). Even with the devices, the key to a smooth cut is one score only. 

Once you make your score line, there's a better method to separate pieces than using the hammer that comes with the kit. Glass naturally stresses when heat and cold are applied to it. Have you ever had a mug make noises when you're pouring in hot water?  Well, you've created thermal shock due to the change in temperature. So, once you score your glass bottle, you want that effect. Here's how:  I use a tea kettle to pour hot - close to boiling - water over my entire score line. Be sure to turn the bottle so hot water heats the entire score line. Then plunge your now warm bottle under cold running water or into a bucket of cold water. This creates thermal shock and you'll get a 95% success rate for perfect clean lines with smooth edges.  You might need to smooth the edges for a drinking glass with an Emery cloth, but it's quick as opposed to grinding edges that are chipped after the other methods. You'll be happy with the speed of work and the beautiful clean cuts. 

Once you cut your glass bottle - beer bottles are actually the most difficult because they are made of thinner glass than wine bottles - you can experiment with cut lines at different heights and angles, use different colored glass. You can mount your cut glass on wooden boards, group them together for a centerpiece, or hang them using soft wire to create safe havens for tea lights and votives so that wind doesn't blow the flame around. I have even strung fairy lights up into a bottle for a fabulous glow outdoors. 

If cutting is too challenging for you, you can always drill a single hole in the base with a special diamond coated glass cutting bit ( eBay) and simply put whatever you want in your bottle, inside that hole. I tilt my drillbit slightly just get a grip on the glass and then straighten it out as I cut. I keep wetting the hole as I'm cutting so the bit and the glass don't get too hot.   Once you have your hole, you can smooth the edges or find a plastic grommet to fill it.  Then simply  run string lights up through the hole and fill the inside of the bottle. 

Depending upon your contents, you can keep the labels on although I like to remove them by placing a paper towel with a paste of baking soda and vinegar over it for about an hour; it should pull off clean although you may need a steel wool pad to rub off the remaining adhesive. You can make your own labels for special gifts, and include a "recipe" for the project. 

Have fun, but do you remember the glass can cut you. Work with gloves on, and be careful with pets and children in your work area! Good luck making beautiful custom home decor. 

Lynn Morris Interiors
"Innovative & Distinctive Design Solutions"