I’ve been a bit preoccupied with stained glass projects over the past year especially, and haven’t really done much in the way of bottle cutting during this time. I’ve made amends for that today, cutting and finishing four bottles that I’ve recovered from several trips walking in The Lake District, which is my other major time-consuming hobby. These will be particularly pleasing to do, as finding litter in such a beautiful area, clearing it and then making it into something really nice is a very satisfying process, as I have outlined in a previous post – idealistic upcyling.
Here are some of the other glass items I’ve been making:
I’ve been very focused on a number decorative copper-foil panels for most of this year, so haven’t completed anything with a bottle cut for quite a few months, so thought it was time to cut another one on this rainy Sunday afternoon.
I’ve described the process of this pleasing design of bottle end suncatchers enough over the course of the last few posts, so I’ll just describe the glasses, and show the photo. A brown real ale bottle provided the centre, and I found the streaky antique amber complimented this well. I rifled right through the glass box, holding up various colours with these two before I settled on a purple and amber wispy glass for the 15mm border. Finished in black and polished patina, then end result is really nice, and blends beautifully. Sometimes things just work out really nicely together.
I’ve had a busy few months, with what time I had to work on glass being taken up by a couple of copper-foil panel designs, so have looked forward to returning to making some bottle end suncatchers again.
I had a sheet of teal baroque stained glass that I bought many months ago, so was keen to use it with a couple of green bottle bottoms that were prepared in the usual way on a piece of 3mm clear. Heavily streaked glass like the baroque can be problematic when cutting curves across the lines and streaks. Fortunately all eight quarters went to plan, keeping the pattern running through perfectly. The black backed copper foil was soldered with K grade solder, darkened with black patina, and then polished using the graphite grate polish. Both look great hanging in the light.
I bought a small square of bullseye reeded glass about a year ago, intending to use it in a prairie style copperfoil design at sometime, but when I came to make one recently, it didn’t really work in with the other colours I picked, so I set it aside for another use. I also had a grey cathedral glass, again for another idea initially, but the two together looked good, giving a sort of black and white look, so that’s the way I decided to go.
A clear mini wine bottle bottom, rescued from a street nearby a month or two back, was picked out of the pile, and cut and prepared for foiling. Clear was the only choice to avoid any colour in the design. I centred the bottle end on the cross template, and cut a 100x100mm square of grey cathedral glass, cutting it into four, then shaping the arc around the outline of the bottle end. I then cut the reeded glass into 20x120mm strips to be able to form a border around the grey square, offsetting the corners for strength. I ground the edges a little in parts to level off to ensure a tight and neat fit when foiled, and used silver backed copper foil tape to allow a silver finish in the end to compliment the monochrome look. Soldering was completed using K grade solder, and cleaned up to give a shiny finish.
When hung in the light, the two directions of the reeded glass catches the light differently, giving an effect of four different tones across the whole design, which works very well in a monochrome way. I’m really pleased with the end result.
Patrick Lehoux, the creator of the Kinkajou bottle cutter, has launched a very interesting looking second project on kickstarter.com to enhance the bottle cutting experience, namely a bottle neck stem which he has called The Jaribu. You read and see more of the project on The Jaribu Kickstarter page.
The idea is to manufacture a stable and hygienic base which allows you to utilise the often redundant neck sections of cut bottles, and make them into glassware. As is often the case, the beauty and success of such ideas is the simplicity of design and execution. The tapered stem will fit and seal a great number of bottle neck styles and sizes, allowing the necks to be used as funky drinking glasses, while offering a stable base footing. They will also be very useful to make small vases for cut flowers and table centrepieces.
What I really like about the designs are the very attractive base and colours, and the benefits of a removable base for hygienic cleaning compared to fixed glass bottom glasses on many go without saying. It’s not easy to clean down a bottle neck that is permanently sealed off, even with bottle brushes, and this way also keeps glass glues away from the consumed liquids. With a removable stopper, you can simply replace the bottle neck in the event of a breakage, which is a big plus. I’ve tried one of the commercially made beer bottle glasses at a relative’s house, and they are nice looking and perfectly fine, but this gives the hobbyist a chance to make some interesting products in a very sustainable way. It gives the idea of an upturned bottle glass a much cleaner and more modern look than those ugly bottle bottom bases you see in the few books on the subject.
It’s no surprise to see that the project has already massively smashed it’s initial fundraising target of $15,000, with almost 700 backers pledging nearly $50,000 already. I’ve backed it, and look forward to trying them out after launch. Looks like Patrick is well onto the way of another very successful product, enhancing the bottle-cutting experience a great deal.
I had prepared a brown beer bottle bottom a month or two back, having bonded it to a clear circle and copper-foiled it ready for use, but never got round to using it. The copper-foil was starting to show the first signs of darkening and oxidizing, so I decided i had better get used up.
I had an off-cut of amber water glass big enough for a 150mm square, so set about making a regular square surround on the cruciform template around the brown bottle end centre. I cut all the pieces, but the first one ran off as I tapped it out, leaving a gap too large to solder. The “organic design” principle suggested to work around mistakes was applied, so I cut the break out and matched it on the opposite side, leaving what looked like what I can oly describe as the armour plate of a stegosaurus. It looked promising, so I cut all the others out using that as a template. I was a bit worried the end result would be a bit weak hanging, having no continuous join all around the bottle surround, but with a good strong bead on both sides, it feels very strong, and hangs fine. I finished the solder and tinned edges in copper patina, and am pleased with the result, pictured above. The colours compliment each other well, and the soft ripples catch the light really nicely, even at night.
I’ve been motoring on with the copper foil work as the course moves into it’s last week till next year. I had another Brut bottle bottom cut and prepared for use in a copper foil design, and wanted to try and push the size and weight of glass a little to see what is possible, as the previous one was good in terms of hanging despite the added weight.
I had four 100mm square coloured cathedral cup coasters kicking about not being used, and knew they were annealed glass as one corner had chipped, so could be cut. I cleaned the non-slip cushions off the bottom, and cut a centralised cruciform pattern around the bottle bottom, shaping the four coloured squares to suit, before foiling and soldering up. Because the size was now 200x200mm , and with a heavy bottle centre, I added two hanging points formed from copper wire to cope with the extra weight. It hangs well on 40mm suction hooks on a window, and the end result can be seen in the photo here.
I was keen to try another suncatcher using a bottle end, and had a punted olive wine bottle end left over from a bottle chop after making another candle hurricane from it. It had a nicely textured punted end, so I thought it would be a good one to keep. I picked up another good soldering tip from an excellent instructional DVD from Tempsford Glass, so wanted to try it out as soon as possible, and get a much better looking bead.
First thing to do was clean up the bottle end cut, to prepare it for bonding. I then cut another circle in 3mm clear glass, about 5-6mm greater in diameter than the bottle end. The prepared bottle end was then bonded to the circle using the daylight curing UV glue, and left to cure in the light for a day. The bottle end was cleaned up to remove any grease and I then wrapped the clear circle edge with the copper foil. Next stage is to draw around the bottle end, and create a template for the hanger, making sure to neatly centralise the bottle end in the design. In this case, I used a centre cross, and cut a square of a nice antique Cathedral glass in amber, with plenty of seeds and lines in it. The design was then cleaned and edged in copper foil prior to soldering. The tip of angling the iron tip onto its point and feeding the solder melt from above worked very well indeed, and I got a much better bead than I had previously achieved.
The last stage was to make and add a wire hanger using copper wire, and to clean it up. The extra depth and weight of the wine bottle end didn’t cause any difficulty with this design, and the colours complemented each other pretty well in the direct sunlight. The texture of the premium amber glass sheet is really nice in the sunlight. The smaller size square I used helps the larger diameter bottle end dominate the design a bit more, and I think it’s a much better end result than my first one.
Following on from the first attempt at combining bottle cutting with copper-foil glass making, I’d earlier prepared a few more bottle ends, using the same technique of UV bonding a cut and finished beer bottle end onto a circular piece of 3mm clear glass. The 3mm clear was then quite straightforward to copper-foil, and would sit flat to aid soldering when combined with the other glass which is mostly 3mm also.
I had two brown beer bottles, and some green ones, but the brown ones are the better looking of the two colours, as the green ones have an off-centre circle imprint on them, which doesn’t look so great. The brown tones would dictate the overall look. After a long time deliberating what to do, I finally took an idea from two of my favourite design styles I’ve seen while browsing the net. I like abstract flowers and trees that are a pure circle on a stalk, but by far my favourite stained glass designs are the Prairie style stained glass designs of the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The amber tones and wheat grain heads are glorious. Thought I’d read that these geometric designs are best suited to lead rather than copper foil, I thought a simple one wouldn’t be too difficult to do. I had a perfect piece of speckled amber glass to form the wheat grains, and cutting them neatly wasn’t difficult with the use of a small cutting square. The look was quite pleasing, so I opted for clear 3mm glass above and below the amber chevrons, to emphasise them, and not to be overwhelmingly coloured, and I think this decision turned out really well. I’m very pleased. Though the cutting on the edges of the circles could be a little bit closer, as they always run off when going to a point, but I’m pleased with the circles and the chevrons in particular. It’s given me more chance to practise my soldering technique, which does have a lot of room for improvement still. It’s also another hanger loop made from copper wire, which given how bad my first attempt was in the evening class, I’m pleased with the progress there too on what is a fiddle of a process where you need four pair of hands. A copper patina was added to the final solder when complete, which was ideal for the prairie influenced style and colours. Overall, It took about 3.5 hours in total to do.
I’ve finally got around to begining a first attempt at incorporating my bottle cutting hobby with the copper-foil stained glass I begun to learn earlier this year. It’s something I’ve been meaning to get round to for a while, and had two initial plans of making a window hanging design, and using a bottle bottom as a ’roundel’ style centre.
The first thing was to cut a bottle bottom, so I chose a brown beer bottle, and cut it as low as could be successfully done, just above the dots and numbers line at the bottom. This gave the bottle bottom a rise of about 6mm from the main design. I then cut a circle of 3mm thick clear glass at a diameter 6mm larger than the cut bottle bottom, which I edged in copper-foil. The plan here was to allow comfortable room fro the copper-foil and soldering, and also to leave a thin clear halo of glass around the bottle for effect. The bottle edge was flatted with diamond pads, and then bonded to the clear circle of glass using a UV curing glass glue. Care was taken to make the glue bond complete all around the circle as I didn’t want liquids seeping in there during cleaning later on. This completed the centre piece, so next up was to decide what to do with it, so I pulled out all the sheets of coloured glass I had and held them together to see what complimented the brown glass of the bottle bottom. A textured streaky yellow glass looked good, and could be complimented with a copper patina when finished.
I drew around the circle centrepiece, and then measured off a square design off it. The squares were cut, ground and foiled, before being assembled together for soldering on a square edged board. I tacked the pieces together, and then tinned the edges, before completing the main solder joints around the circle and the four joints, which was easier than I had expected. Next up I made a loop out of copper wire, tinned it and then bent it to suit the top corner as I wanted it to hand diagonally. When this was strong and all the soldering was tidied up, I cleaned the glass with a little bicarbonate of soda, and then added the copper patina to the solder. I added a suction hanger to the loop, and tried it out in the window. The end result is very pleasing in look, and I can see further improvement in my finishing, which is quite satisfying.