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.


Chain hanger

Visualising how things will look has never really been a strong point with me. I often have to hope for some clue from other sources, or more often than not, I need to physically hold things together in a fashion to see how they sit together. It’s not a bad way to see things sometimes. I’ve often done it with bottles to see how one body looks sat on top of the neck of another. So in deciding what to try next, I usually just pick odd things up and have a play about.

Left over from the wooden bases project, there was a small off-cut of oak, and on measuring it, found it to be just big enough to sit a tea-light on. I drew a 37mm circle around the tea-light, and then roughly squared the wood off. Placing it down, it fitted quite nicely inside the base of an amber wine bottle I’d already cut the bottom off, so that looked like an possible option to make a homemade bottle hanger. The copper ones I’ve used previously are really good, but do cost a bit of money, so it would be good to try and make a cheap option from as little bought-in materials as possible. oak hanging tray

I routed out a shallow depth to the 37mm circle outline, just deep enough to hold the tea-light in place when slightly swaying. The wood was then sanded down on all faces and edges, and then given a coat of wood dye to darken it up. When dry, four small eye screws that are usually used on picture frames were then screwed into the four corners of the face. I had bought a metre length of decorative chain used in crafting, so used that to create four equal lengths to suspend the wooden tray. The length was judged from the neck top to a tray height that suited the height of the bottle. You could you also use other strong non-flammable materials like solid or twisted wire to achieve the same effect. chain bottle hangerThough chain might be more bulky, its easy to attach to rings at either end without special crimping tools so seemed like a good choice for the first attempt.

The main hanging line was made with the same chain, and allowed for a good foot or so of clearance when in the hanging position, which also allows enough slack to lift the bottle upwards to access the tea-light tray when required. I had a few strong 20mm diameter aluminium rings left over in the shed from years ago, and these were perfect to form the top hanger, but more importantly, a good size to create the wedging ring inside the bottle neck. The obvious side benefit of a chain and ring hanger like this is that the bottle always sits dead plumb, as it’s resting centrally on the ring in the neck opening, rather than  resting on just one half of a the bottle shoulder like the copper spiral ones do. A tea-light was then slid onto the tray, and lit to test the airflow around the base, which was fine. The bottle and chains warm up, but not in any unexpected or worrying way. It’s surprisingly difficult to get four equal sized chains to sit and hold the base dead level, despite ring counting, but it’s near enough and copes with a light swaying movement perfectly fine. I’ll try something smaller and more flexible next time, but it’s been not a bad first go at a total overall materals cost of under £1.50.



Hanging bottle lights

Now I’d made a home-made jig to successfully cut the bottoms from full size wine bottles using the Ephrem’s bottle cutter, I ordered a number of the hanging tealight holders from the Creative Glass Guild in Bristol.

Lit nottle hanger I guess long term the most economical option will be to actually make hangers at home, but these hangers are really excellent quality for the money. There are made from copper plated heavy gauge steel, and come ready to go with the eye-hook hanger and correctly positioned coils for the shoulder centrally suspend the bottle by the shoulder. A formed cup holds the tealight at the base, and the coils can be manipulated to suit the bottle length you have cut. They are very attractive right from the box, and the luscious copper colour makes them ideal for indoor or purely decorative use. Time will tell how they react with the elements outside. I’d imagine they might get their patina over time and look quite rustic. 

Brown bottle hanger

I already had a green bottle prepared from testing the homemade bottle cutter jig (blogpost: jig extension for cutter), so slid it on, lit the tealight, and hung it up outside, as seen in the night photograph above. I’d kept a nicely shaped brown bottle for use as a hanging bottle. I cut it down right at it’s base which went perfectly, as I’ve found the thickness near the bottom can be very variable and therefore difficult to cleanly break. The edges were finished very carefully, as this would be a point of access for hands.  As you can see from the photo, the bell-like shape to this bottle works very well, and makes a very attractive bottle light hanger.

Blue Nun hanger

And just completed and added is this Blue Nun wine bottle. These bottles can be quite erratic in glass thickness and consistency, and difficult to work with as a result, but the colour is really great, and should offer a nicely tinted light at night when lit. I’m looking out for a range of different coloued wine bottles. All of the different shoulder shapes so far have worked fine with these votive hangers, which are very flexible.

Embossed bottles


Cobra beer bottleSometimes a bottle style lends itself nicely to certain uses, particularly with heavily embossed beer bottles that leave little room to cut down in more than one or two places, usually around the middle between embossing or just at the neck shoulder. One such bottle I had donated was a Cobra beer bottle – an amber bottle with two banks of embossing on the body, and another on the neck.


Emobssed effect litThough embossed, the Cobra bottle rolled on the Ephrem’s cutter fairly easily, given care and firm holding to prevent bouncing. I cut the bottle at the shoulder, which gave a second chance of a middle cut if the first wasn’t successful. The bottle was very uniform in shape and thickness, and the edge was straightforward to work and finish. I’ve placed a tealight in it to show the lighting effect of the embossed amber, but it would be an ideal candidate in size for a poured votive candle, which is something I hope to begin looking at later on.


Tealight holders

After showing a few photos of the bottles experimented with so far, I got my first request  to cut some bottles, from my sister. She had a couple of embossed Kronenburg 1664 beer bottles, and thought they would make good tea-light holders for their caravan trips and patio area at home, and supplied a few bottles to have a go at.

The Kroneburg 1664 bottles themselves are ideal for this use, as they have an embossed ‘1664’ area of a few inches, topped with a solid section of flat glass before the bottle tapers in towards the neck – making a cut are that is a great size for tea-lights.

This photo shows them before I finished the edges, but you can see the look:

Kronenburg tealights

The bottles were very easy to roll and cut on the Ephrem’s , with a pretty consistent and solid glass cross-section. The cuts were very clean, leaving an easy finish to make a safe and attractive end result. The neck section looked too nice a shape to just abandon, so I put them to one size, for future use. All in all, a perfect green beer bottle to make tealights with – good size, and less plain than a normal flat beer bottle like Becks, Stella etc.  If I can get some ‘in use’ photos, I’ll add one to this post at a later date.