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.


Cork bottle tops

Some time ago, Bottlecutting Inc introduced a line of cork tops for bottles, in a large and a Cork topssmall size, so I was very keen to try them out and ordered some right away. The large size covers bottles with a inside diameter of 90-100mm, and the small size covers 63-73mm, and both sets are a triple pack. The large size is bigger than most UK wine bottles, so I went with the small size pack, hoping they would be good for wine bottles and craft beer bottles. The retail cost of $8.99 and 12.99 respectively is reasonable, but given the poor rate of the pound to the dollar, and overseas shipping, they are not the most cost-effective option for UK customers, but that’s our problem, no reflection of the product or company. I just hoped I wouldn’t be clobbered by customs and excise when they landed, as I have been on other purchases from North America, as they certainly know how to cane you with admin charges. (I wasn’t, just cheap enough. phew!)

Cork bottle top I was very impressed indeed with the quality of the cork tops. The immaculate cork is smooth, dust-free and high density, with a small grain, if that’s the right word (probably not!). It feels very high quality and certainly gives me the impression that the corks will remain durable and presentable for a long time under normal use. The quality feel is further emphasised by the superb packaging it came in. Bottlecutting Inc are very good at the marketing and Cork stopperpresentation of their products, and output like this adds a quality feel to what is essentially can be a very rough and ready hobby.

The fit is ok on a larger UK beer bottle I tried it out on (Schiehallion Ale), and also pictured here is the fit on a normal wine bottle, which is ideal. You need a good few millimetres protruding to spin or pop the top off. The smooth graduation of the wedge makes for a good, airtight fit, so this will be an ideal product to make storage jars for sweets and other foodstuffs. A good all round quality product. I’ll certainly make good use of this set to good effect with a couple of my favourite label bottles.

Jaribu bottle top stem

Patrick Lehoux, the creator of the Kinkajou bottle cutter, has launched a very interesting looking second project on to enhance the bottle cutting experience, namely a bottle neck stem which he has called The Jaribu. 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.

Pendant light shade

I’ve been meaning to try a bottle as a pendant light shade for a while, just to try and suss out how the fittings sit without any extra parts, but never got round to it. whisky pendant lightA suitable whisky bottle was donated, with a wider neck neck hole than a wine bottle, so I figured it would just snugly hold the light fitting nicely, which  was the case in the end. I cut the bottle bottom off using the Ephrem’s bottle cutter, leaving an immaculate cut edge, and finished it to a very smooth edge using the diamond pads. I fitted the bottle onto the pendant, and it gripped the light fitting firmly without requiring any further modification. Quite a simple and unimaginative one really, but I’ll maybe play around with it to improve the look somehow, maybe by decorating the bottle with coloured nuggets. It’s pictured here with an energy saving bulb, but might look better with a regular bulb.

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.


Mother’s Day

I’m making a copper-foil stained glass design for my mam, but it’s not going to be ready for about a month as it is being done in an evening class, so thought I may as well just make something simple in the mean time for her back room conservatory to go with the same old box of chocolates on Mother’s day. Olive wine bottle vase It’s teatime of the night before, so quick and simple is the plan. Out to the stockpile of bottles in the yard I go for a quick assessment, and I plump for an olive curved wine bottle that I only got this last week.

It has a curved shoulder, which is something I’m practising more and more cuts on using the G2 cutter. These have been problematical so far, as you are less likely to hit the same spot on rotation due to the lean on the cutter as you move it around. Also the shape has proven a big problem when heating and breaking the glass, with a lot of stress being released, particularly on the blue bottles I’ve tried so far. Ever determined to crack it, I still went for an optimistic cutting point, and adjusted the cutter to give me the best chance of a clean score line. Olve wine bottle flower vaseIt went well, as I’ve learned to avoiding pulling down too much, and employ a firmer side grip to keep the head on track. This left no more than about one third of a millimetre between the start and finish heights before joining. Hopefully the score would break cleanly enough to edge easily, and so it proved, with some milder fracture craters, that didn’t need too much edging with the various grade diamond blocks to come up clean and smooth.

I’ve put a few artificial flower stems in it to show the overall look of a higher cut wine bottle. Really simple, about 30-40 minutes work at most. It will be something to decorate the conservatory windowsill for spring.

January lull

Three weeks back in to work after the Christmas shutdown, and haven’t had too much time to bash on with any new designs. A couple of gifts were made for christmas, repeating a few designs already featured on the blog. Mostly though, I was just collecting some bottles, and cutting a few up in preparation of the right combinations to come along to make things. The weather hasn’t been great, with a lot of rain over the weeks, leaving not much chance to try making wooden bases for the bottomless bottles outside in the yard. I guess it’s a typical January time for any crafter, as you’ve got any pressure from christmas out of the way and are just setting up the year to see what direction you want to head off into.

I spent some time making some more paraffin wax candles, this time trying out adding colour and fragrance. First attempts were quite pleasing, though I just pottered along just guessing the approximate amounts of dye per wax quantities, and not weighing them out accurately as you should. Orange candlesI’d been held up with some wax supplies, so had two larger pots ready and waiting to try a bigger container candle in by the time it landed. I used an orange dye, and when it was all melted to the pouring temperature, I added and orange and cinnamon fragrance to the mix. After the customary re-leveling needed to get the top surface of the wax flat around the wick, the pots were cleaned off and presented as gifts to try out. I’ll add more fragrance next time, but the scent was lightly noticeable, and the colour good. They are burning well by all accounts.

Other than that, I’ve just been collecting and preparing bottles and jars, and assembling odd little bits and bobs to maybe make some more bottle hangers with, such as copper packing box staples. clear pen potsToday I just prepared two clear wine bottles, that had flat bases. They cut and edged fine to my now much fussier standards, and I’m just going to keep these and use them as pen pots at home. I’ve got heavier coloured bottles cut for use as vases. It was nice to get the jig rolling again, even if just for simple things like these. 

In terms of other options for 2012, I bought a Dremel engraver recently, so I’m intending spending a bit of time this year trying to get to grips with that as another alternative idea to enhance the bottle cutting hobby. I’m also looking into glass painting, thinking specifically towards use with tea-lights. I recently painted a gold house number on the repaired clear glass top-light on the front door of my cousins house, and found it a good medium to work with on glass, with a pleasing end result. This Tuesday coming I’m also starting a 10-week stained glass evening course at the local adult education,starting with copper-foiling, before moving on to traditional lead came stained glass making. I’m hopeful these two fields will also bring something new to the bottle cutting. We shall see!