What to do with those wine bottles!?!
Sure, most can be recycled easy enough via local residential and business collection services. [Even so, hundreds of thousands end up trashing up our cities, parks, and beaches. Glass beverage bottles ranked # 7 of top ten items collected during the 2015 International Coastal Cleanup.] But, now and again, you get ahold of a nice one, beautifully colored or shaped, unique or with some sort of sentimental value, like a bottle of wine opened for a special occasion. Unfortunately, saving bottle ‘keepsakes’ will eventually develop into an assortment of bottle clutter, and at some point, there must a be decision to either throw them out in the recycle bin or store them somewhere (e.g., closet, garage, basement).
The discovery of the “Creator’s Bottle Cutter (Ultimate Addition)”* offered new possibilities for a craft project and an answer to the question “what to do” with all the bottles. Didn’t take too long, however, to figure out glass cutting is not a quick and simple process regardless of a merchant’ claims, expert advice and customer reviews, but it is actually easier than anticipated and a really fun, challenging try-out. Admittedly, felt a bit of a thrill to cut the first bottle as well as surprise it actually was cut perfectly in two, and very happy with the finished products.
You can do it, too, and to help you get started, here’s the lowdown ⇓
First off, try to talk a friend into joining you in the glass cutting, especially the first go-around. It’s not impossible to do solo, but helps to have a partner.
Safety Equipment: Scoring the bottles creates some fine glass dust and shards, and there are inevitable wax drips when using a candle for the “thermo-shock” process. Therefore, best to protect your work table and always wear safety glasses. For this project, a (12” x 18”) “Crafty World” cutting mat*was used because that’s what was on hand. It worked fine, but you may want to go with a bigger size (18” x 24”) for a larger work surface. Any other type of non-slip protective mat should work. Also handy to have thick kitchen towels for water drips and spills and to help in handling wet bottles during the cutting and finishing.
Watch the Instructional Videos. After reading the Creator’s Bottle Cutter (Ultimate Edition)* instructions and sorting through all the contents of the glass cutting kit, recommend you watch instructional videos (a few times) because nothing beats actually seeing the process.
Cut Placement and Labels. You don’t have to remove all the paper labels from your bottles, but the cutter won’t cut through paper labels. Therefore, remove labels that get in the way of your desired score placement by first soaking in hot water, then take a small knife or razor to scrape off as much paper as possible. Last step, get rid of the paper and glue residue with Goo Gone* spray gel.
Marking your Bottle. The instructions state that after placing the bottle on the glasscutter roller carriage, mark the top center of the bottle with a Sharpie marker so as not to overlap the cut. An oil-based, silver color Sharpie pen was not the best choice because it’s difficult to see the mark on dark glass bottles. Recommend a colored wax pencil (e.g., a yellow Sharpie Peel-Off China Marker) or a wine glass writer pen in a bright/bold color would work as well)*.
“Thermo Shock” Process. The method chosen for this experiment was the “candle – ice water plunge”, only because it was demonstrated in the “Bottle Cutting 101” video. To everyone’s amazement, it worked. Here are a few helpful tips (learned during the process):
* Timing is everything. You need a stopwatch (use your smart phone). The manufacturer’s recommended “thermo-shock” process times for heat & cold are good estimates, but very often the process had to be repeated and/or the times extended as much as half a minute (especially when cutting thick wine wine/champagne bottles). For example, the better chance for a nice clean break in the glass occurred when the ice water plunge was extended to about 20 seconds rather than the 10 seconds recommended in the instructional video. Listed below are the candle flame warming time estimates used with the most success during this experiment (they differ from estimates given in the instructions):
1.5 minutes (thin glass like beer bottle)
2 – 2.5 minutes (wine bottle)
2.5 – 3.5 minutes (bottles with thicker glass)
3.5 – 4.5 minutes (champagne bottles)
* Be careful—always have a good grip on the bottle because just when you think the bottle will never separate, it will –like magic– fall off. Once the bottle actually came apart while on the candle flame during the second re-do.
* Get comfy. Sit down at the work table and get the candle low enough to be able to prop your elbows on the table because arms soon start feeling heavy when holding and spinning the bottle above the candle flame.
* Be Patient. You can’t rush things. If the glass doesn’t separate the first (or second) time, don’t get discouraged, and don’t try to pull it apart. This lesson was learned when an attempt was made to force the bottle apart after a few tries with the “thermo shock process”. The bottle did not break cleanly, and there was no way to file or sand down the jagged edge.
* Had purchased a 3M emery cloth for smoothing rough edges, but realized the sharpening stone stick (included in kit) really works better. Had also purchased some “professional glass cutter oil” manufactured by CRL, but can’t figure out what to do with it, so will return it.
You can make drinking glasses, flower vases, candle holders, lanterns, lamps, ornaments, cloches (keepsake domes).…. all kinds of things. Decorate your home or perfect as gifts.
* The look of votive candles and tea lights* flickering inside a wine bottle (with bottom cut off) is pretty, but this type of ‘bottle’ lantern will not get enough oxygen to keep a candle flame going unless you cut a larger opening at the top of the bottle or place the bottle on a metal stand that lets air flow from underneath the bottle. Placing the bottles on a kitchen cooling rack and trivets did the trick. Be careful—the bottles get hot. Don’t touch without some hand protection (kitchen pot holders became a useful item for the workshop).
* You can really get creative decorating your bottles with costume jewelry, buttons, wine glass pens, paints, wine foils, and stick-on rhinestones…….Time to let your imagination run wild. Soon you’ll need more bottles to cut!
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*This page includes affiliate links to a shop website for some glass cutting and decorating tools and supplies. If you purchase a product or service directly through the link, Zeester Media LLC may earn a small commission. This in no way affects the price you pay for the purchase.
Feature photo of bottles sourced from Pexels CC0
Bottle creation photos by Zeester Media LLC CC BY-NC-ND