Stonethwaite Votive

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,Brown Bottle 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 brown bottlebottle, 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, Stonethwaite Votiveis 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.

 

Old Tom bottle candles

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 usuallywick setting 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. Orange candle

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.

 

Little bits of salvage

I’ve not been doing a great deal of bottles in the last few weeks, with the exception of today where I knocked up a couple of wine bottle hangers and cleared out a lot of bottles I wasn’t getting round to finding a use for. I’ve been busy again on another term on a local creative glass course, doing copper foil and lead came designs. I still like doing both hobbies a great deal, and it’s nice to think of more ways to combine the two skill sets in some way.

bottlecupI’d just finished a Rennie Mackintosh style design from scratch, as a gift for my mother, which I’d made to fit a candle mount I’d bought from the Creative Glass Guild in Bristol . I used black backed copper foil, and finished it in black patina to match the frame, and was very satisfied with the overall effect. Though the flat candle plate was plenty wide, I wanted to have a more ‘containing’ method of holding the tea-light behind the glass panel, to make sure it didn’t stray too close to the panel.  I used a scuffed beer bottle that I had picked up from the street, and cut the bottom off about 5mm higher than a tea-light. A neat edge arriss, and a double sided pad was all that was needed to complete the task, making a more functional option for the stand. A nice, neat little use of a scruffy bottle that was pretty much good for nothing else. I guess these could be useful little tea-light pots for other uses, like on dining tables, as they help prevent them being knocked over and contain any stray hot wax. They can be bought commercially in various glass, pot and resin materials, but it’s nice to upcycle and make something from nothing yourself from an abundance of wasted beer bottles.

Brut bottle hurricane

Following on from the successful use of a heavy bottle bottom for a copper foil sun-catcher, I wanted to try it again with a nice looking one on a Brut bottle. This one had a rope effect edge, and dotted circular textures on the punt, so I cut it about 8-10mm above the top of the punt. This left the rest of the bottle to use, and the bottle end will be used in another post in the near future.

floorboard hurricane

The long curving corked top neck looked good to form a chimney of sorts, so I decided to make a hurricane base for the bottle as cut. I cut a square base out of a floorboard remnant, and routed a circle into it for the bottle to sit in. I then made a deeper groove at the back, and drilled through into the groves section to create a concealed breather hole to allow air flow the chimney effect to feed the candle. The base was then sanded smooth for ease of handling, and a coat of light oak dye added for final effect.

Once dry, all that remained was to test the drawing effect of the base with a tea-light, which worked well. The top of the bottle got very hot even with a tea-light, but the glass is very thick, and a long burn showed it to be ok. Another ‘upcycled’ project completed with hardly any cost at all other than time and a tealight.

 

 

Tea-light mounts

Just a short post showing a couple of tea-light bottle parts I’ve started from street salvaged bottles. The tea-light holder is to the right is the bottom of a Becks green beer bottle. Nothing too remarkable or different to various tea light holders you can buy cheaply from the shops, but just made for the sake of making something from a discarded bottle that was scuffed and tatty. I’m tempted to try and mix this in to a copper-foil project somehow – maybe a floating lilypad look or something. I need to find more time to practise that craft also.

Tealight partsFrom a salvaged mini-wine bottle I picked up from the waste ground on a demolished factory , I top and tailed the green bottle to try and make a cylinder like I did with the full size wine bottles. It cut well, is thick enough not to cause any weakness worries, and fits over a tea-light snugly. I’m intending routing a circular groove into a nice piece of wood when I find one, and making a miniature hurricane of some description , be it free-standing or forming a  table centre. No doubt I’ll post a photo when I get something done. These are just clearing some of the sitting stockpile of bottles I’ve built up. It’s attracting a snail or two in the yard!

Update:   today I found the little log section, and routered a circular channel out of it at a comfortable size for the cylinder.  Log cylinder tealightThe bottle cylinder was slightly off-round, and fairly thin at the two seam points, so I made this the bottom to put the best edge to the top. The 4mm Dremel router bit was more than wide enough to give a holding circle groove that coped with the slightly off-circle shape. The groove was dyed with an english oak colour, and left to dry. The inner circle is a perfect size for a tea-light, and the open top let’s it burn freely without any need for any holes to create an air draw.

Coca-Cola candles

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.

Sanctuary lamp

Following on from some of the wooden base hurricane style projects, I’ve had in mind for a while the notion of making a pair of sanctuary style candle lamps, based loosely on the coloured cylinder sanctuary lamps you can often see in churches. A candle burning in a coloured cylinder has always seemed quite appealing in look, and an open topped cylinder should present no real complication in maintaining airflow to keep the flame burning well. First stop is to make the glass cylinders from coloured wine bottles.

cylinderI had four olive coloured wine bottles available, and had two pairs in terms of both colour tint and shape, which should allow for simple making of two matching coloured cylinders. Ten months into the hobby, I’m now pretty confident in cutting wine bottles and finishing the bottle edges to a good, clean standard , so two closely matching cylinders didn’t prove difficult.  Next stage is to make a base or holder for the cylinders.

I’ve corbelnever been a skilled woodworker, but a few projects into using the Dremel circle cutter attachment, I’m beginning to find my own best method to get a neat routed circle into timber, so wood is starting to look more and more a complimentary material for cut bottle projects. I’m even beginning to start to think about taking a local wood-turning course in the future, which could be complimentary to bottle cutting. A wooden base for the cylinder was the choice, though I’m not up to creating anything structured, so i looked around and found a number of pairs of corbels for sale on Ebay, as I thought a corbel could be promising as the wall mount. A pair with a flat top of around 95mm square were found and ordered, and that was near ideal size for the approximate 72mm diameter wine bottle cylinders.

corbel routingNext step was to router the circle into the flat top, after gauging the outer radius of the glass cylinder at around 37mm. Some comfort room for glass expansion and wood movement is required. I wanted the end finish to be as neat as possible and, as it was going to be cutting into the end grain, I was concerned about splintering and general untidiness. I set the first sweep round at 1.5mm, and only a third of the max revs of the Dremel. This gave a very neat circle, which was pleasing, and I tested the cylinder fit, which was ideal. I cleaned out the groove and continued the same gradual process having increased the depth of cut by another 1.5mm or so, and repeated this process four times to get a good depth of around 6mm minimum. This should give enough support to avoid any accidental falling of the cylinder from the mount. The groove was very neat, as can been seen in the photo, and a light sanding was performed to soften the edge down a little.

sanctuary lampLast job was to mount a candle, light it and add the cylinder into the groove, and test how the candles burns. Despite no chimney effect from a bottom air feed, the open top should be ample to allow the flame to be fed enough oxygen to thrive. So far, so good.

A second corbel was routed in the same way, with identical results. I think I’ll add an English Oak dye finish to the corbels, though I’ve no particular plan of where they will will end up. Quite a pleasing attempt, as I didn’t expect it to go quite as well as it did. Certainly the neatest bit of wood routing I’ve managed so far.

 

Table centrepiece

Following on from my earlier wooden bases post, I was very pleased to get a request from a friend for a white coloured base with a tall clear bottle. I had a long think about what to make, and how, as it was a different style to the ones I had been making with stained wooden bases for beer and whiskey cut-down bottles. A full size wine bottle would give the greatest height, though I wondered how good a clear bottle would look as a candle centrepiece, with no colour to the glass. A week or two later, I was then given a perfect bottle for the job, which was clear and tall bodied, but with a very pale tint to the glass. This just gave it a slightly different look, especially as it was being sunk into a white painted base.  I cut the bottom from the bottle as low as possible, taking great care to get it right first score, and edge it very neatly. The end result was ideal for the job.

routered floorboardFor the base, I again used one of the remnants of floorboard from the shed, keeping things ‘reused and recycled’, and measured the diameter of the bottle base at around 75mm to the middle of the glass. fortunately, this wine bottle was pretty round, which they are not always. I set up the circle cutter attachment on the Dremel rotary tool, and found the centre point of the board. Two rotations were done, with a slight adjustment to give a circle of 5-6mm to keep a snug grip on the bottle (approximately 4mm) without being too tight when painted.Dremel circle cutter A quick test fitting showed this to be fine, and the overall depth of around 5mm seems fine to keep the bottle stable.

Once the circle was right, the next job was to create a channel that vents underneath the glass edge for air to draw into the bottle chamber when the candle is burning inside. Ideally, you don’t want this to be too noticeable, but it has to be large enough to draw through sufficient air to allow the flame to thrive, and not self-extinguish. I marked the centre of the back edge to a point about 20mm inside the circle. Switching the Dremel tool to the router edge guide attachment,  I routed a 8mm channel to a depth a further 3mm below the circle channel where the bottle edge sits. testing drawThere’s no science to this bit, so I tested the candle inside the bottle to make sure it drew enough air to burn nicely.

Now all the routing was done, I could cut down the end square from the plank remnant, leaving a uniform 20mm on both sides for symmetry, and begun sanding down the base surfaces and adding a slight radius to the square edges to avoid splinters. To minimise the roughness inside the groves, I found it best to fold over the edge of some sandpaper several times to form a solid block which could be moved around inside the circle to smooth it down a bit. As you are always crossing the grain on a few parts, it was difficult to not have the odd bit of roughness in the grove, but it was sanded as best could be, and the bottle hides this well anyway.

White baseOnce complete, this only left the final coating to get the white look desired. I asked a decorator friend about lime or whitewash products, which are available to buy, but he also suggested watering down a white emulsion. I had some in the shed, and did a test coat on the other end of the remnant at about 60:40 water to paint mix. It worked well, leaving some grain visible, and dried quickly, so I just bashed on and gave it two coats all over, giving the end grains and grooves plenty of mixture to soak in fully. The end result was pleasing, with a slightly washed out feel, and helps to show the pale blue tint off quite nicely. Next job is to successfully ship it off to Norway in one piece, where hopefully it will be useful as a centrepiece for a dining table.

Peppermill pot

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.

Peppercorn millOne 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. Pepper mill pot 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!

Turret edgeA 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. Oranfe candleholderAs 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.

Sauce bottle

The beauty of having more than one type of cutter is that it can give you a greater range of options in terms of bottle cutting heights and diameters. A few small bottles have been too narrow in diameter to fit onto the Ephrem’s cutter, but this is where the G2 cutter steps in nicely. One such bottle that I’ve been waiting to start on, when I finally emptied it, was a Sarsons Worcester Sauce bottle, which has a narrow neck with a lid ridge at the top, and an almost  flat shoulder above a cylindrical body. I thought the neck and shoulders would make a great base, and that the body would be fine on top of it.

Worcester SauceFirstly, the bottle was soaked to remove the label, and the drip lid was removed with the point of a screwdriver. The bottle was then cleaned thoroughly with hot water to remove the last of the sauce remains prior to cutting. The round of the shoulder of the bottle actually forms a clear step-in of less than 1mm onto the cylinder of the body, which gives it a distinctive line, but also makes it slightly awkward to cut. You don’t want it much lower, as it might make the base foot look odd, but too close might add risk to the cut as a good score line is especially important on a small bottle, and I noticed there was a slight variation in the bottle on a test spin with the cutter. I pushed it as high as I could, and hoped for the best. The scoreline was good, though close to the change in angle, so I took plenty of time to run the cut with the hot and cold water. I warmed the bottle slowly around the full diameter, and then quenched it under the cold. On close inspection, It had ran cleanly and fully, and separated perfectly on the next warming. The body of the glass was surprisingly thick at around 3mm, and more substantial to work with than most beer bottles.

The clean breaks were gently arrissed down in 3 stages with increasingly finer grade diamond pads, and then scrubbed clean and dried. The base was then UV glued onto the neck top. Though the base was largely embossed with numbers, they actually didn’t hinder a central position for the narrow neck. The UV torch was used initially for speed, but as it was clear glass, I left it in the window for the day to fully cure naturally.

Worcester

The narrow body with it’s internal opening diameter of about 42mm is a really great fit for most tea-lights. All in all, a very nice little bottle to work on with an attractive end result. The neck and shoulders really make it work. It goes to show that you should keep an eye on all your glass containers for potential use, including sauce bottles and jars, and not just the more usual beer and wine bottles. I’m looking at all the condiment bottles and jars  when shopping now.