Off for a few days over the Christmas and New Year period, so was about time I did something else bottle related. I’d had a large brown bottle sitting to do for some time, having found it buried at the foot of a dry stone wall in the Stonethwaite valley, off Borrowdale in The Lake District. Judging by the style, and the moss overgrowth almost concealing it completely, it must had been there for a number of years. I pulled it out carefully, trying to minimise the disruption to the mosses as much as possible. Despite having a large chip on the base, a few scratches from the stones and some heavy weathering, it looked useful for something. It has sat for most of the year, but I recently obtained a round uncut log from a friend who has a log-burner, and thought it would make a good base for a wine bottle or larger bottle size like this one. Looking at the bottle, the main cylinder was good, despite the grime and a few scratches, so I decided a cylinder cut would be the aim, as it was a good colour and size. The old label and the grime from years of heavy Lake District weather took a lot of cleaning off with a blade and some hot water. I then commenced the cutting and completed the top and tail cutting to form the cylinder successfully, without any loss. The edges of the cut bottle were then ground and polished up in my usual method, using a number of different diamond pads. The end result was pretty good, smooth and pretty flat to the eye.
I’d been to help another friend on his house build this weekend, and took the log to him to slice up. He had a brand new bench saw which sailed though the log beautifully, leaving a smooth finish that require no further sanding. All this left was for me to router a circle groove into the face in which to stand the cut bottle cylinder. I did this again with my Dremmel and it’s circular router attachment. No finish was added to the wood, which I had dried out thoroughly by the fire for weeks prior to cutting. As it was for candles, I didn’t want anything that could be affected by heat or potentially burn.
The end result, shown here with a tealight inside, is quite pleasing, but it is also large enough to take a pillar candle too. Another pleasing upcycle from a bottle I have salvaged whilst walking in the Lake District. I’m really enjoying finding occasional bottles there, knowing I can clear the hazard and make something good from it where possible. Littering in The Lake District in particular is a huge peeve of mine, and it’s nice to be contributing in reducing it a little.
One very useful bottle I’ve had donated a couple of times is an Old Tom strong ale bottle, which comes in various flavours, including a chocolate beer. It’s has a heavily embossed branding section on the main body section, but the neck and bottom sections have protruding smooth sections that are just big enough to set the cutting wheel onto, which makes them useful for container cuts or for removing the bottom.
The bottles usually cut pretty well as the glass is consistent and fairly thick, and the preparation of the edges goes very well indeed as a result. The photo to the right shows the cut at the neck, finished to a good standard.
Once prepared, the first step I take is to place the wick in the centre of the bottle. I prefer to use small piece of 1mm black high tack double sided tape to stick it to the bottom of the glass, to really help it stick and allow a strong tension upwards for straightness. Once centred, I wrap it round a wick pin, which I find easier than to pierce the wick with it, as it enables you to tension the wick if required.
All that remains is to pour in the candle. I like to use a strong colour dye, such as orange or red, to give a bit of contrast to the bottle colour. There’s much better advice on candle-making on the net than my efforts, but I’ve been quite pleased with the results so far. Most look pretty neat, and make a nice gift for family or a friend. I made a couple for the friend who donated the bottles, and they keep them on the fireplace just for show as they like the end look. The bottle diameter has been good for the candle burn and the melt-pool, without tunnelling, and a test burn I did for curiosity showed a full Old Tom burned for over 24 hours.
I’ve cut and shown the Cobra beer bottles after chopping previously, with the fantastic embossed designs of an eastern look all around the main body. They really look great with a flickering candle behind them, as shown with tea-lights in an earlier post, but I’d not yet made one into a poured candle, will would work just as well, revealling more of the embossed designs as the candle burns away. This weekend I got my hands on a couple more Cobra empties, so decided to do just that. Here’s the result.
After a wait of a few months to find a glass Coca Cola bottle to have another go at, I’ve been given two yesterday, so got cracking right away. The famous curved shape with ribs is good looking, but difficult to find a place to cut, with only the flat mid section any real use as a cutting point. Though it’s a packaging icon, I think you still need the logo remaining to differentiate it from a normal soda bottle cut, so there is a tight, but achievable, spot for the G2 cutter head just above the logo, under the ribs, to target. Both cuts were clean, and broke successfully using hot and cold water. The bottles were then edged off with care to leave a neat edge.
After my first attempt at a Coca-Cola botte, which went well until I overheated the glass when attempting to level off the candle top and cracked the glass, I bought some black wax dye to try next time I got one of these bottles. I poured the wax in as far I could to keep the flame inside the glass, and left them to set. I’m still learning better techniques to try and avoid sweating on the glass surface, so I warmed the glass a little before pouring, and wrapped them in tin-foil to try and slow the cooling process down a bit. I’ve not added any fragrance in these two, as I’ve nothing suitable in at the moment, but I would imagine something on the lines of an aniseed or vanilla would work pretty well. This photo shows them just after the pour. Hopefully they will be not too sweaty or grey-ish in colour when cooled and levelled off.
When you are looking for new ideas, particularly with background ethos of this blog being finding free glass sources from day to day life, it’s always worthwhile taking a look at every glass item you use or find to see if it could be useful. I’m always looking at jars, pots and bottles both on the supermarket shelves or, if bought and used, just before they go in the recycling bin.
One item that I took a closer look at when empty and about to be recycled was a small spice-jar sized black peppercorn mill. The plastic grinding mill section hides the top edge, so I didn’t know if it would be suitable for any use until the plastic was prized off with a small screwdriver. To my surprise, the top of the pot was not like a regular spice jar, but had a turreted edge, which is clearly a structural part of the grinder mechanism fixing. This gave me two initial thoughts on how to use it. As you can see from the photo on the right, it’s quite an attractive shaped pot, so was a prime candidate to pour a candle into. The other thought I had, which I will hopefully try after the next one is empty, would follow on from this weeks creative glass course learning, and copper-foil the turreted edge and other parts of the body to enhance the ‘castle’ shape of the pot. For this one, as I happen to be on with another candle pot, I decide to go with the candle thought, which meant no further work on the glass than just striping off the label and grinder, and giving it a good scrub out – dead easy!
A full size wick was adhered to the internal base, and another unexpected bonus of the turret top was that it was perfect to place a centralised wick holding pin for the pouring and setting stage. The paraffin wax was dyed orange, and right at the last moment before pouring I added some orange and cinnamon fragrance. As usual, some slumping occurred around the wick, so a number of gentle reheats were required using the gas torch to level off. I guess the narrow circumference makes this more of a problem than with beer and wine bottles which only need a secondary remelt normally.