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.

 

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.

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.

Wooden bases part 2

Following on from my earlier ‘Wooden base pt1’ post, where a base was made from scrap timber, I wanted to try and make a couple of slightly better versions, using a different holding method, specifically for a couple of bottles I had in mind. The first one was a nicely shaped traditional ‘real ale’ brown bottle with the the very bottom removed. For the second, I also had a salvaged milk bottle, which I hadn’t yet seen or thought of any design to suit it stubby size.

tealight hurricane

First I needed some nicer wood for the base. I had seen these inexpensive thick oak coasters of around 100mm square and thought they would be great for bases. The other key item I had bought earlier was some horseshoe nails. These are a great looking item used in stained glass work. I had seen a design using flat metal with soldered tops to act as retainers, but I thought these would be just as good, and certainly look the part.

I had already cut and finished the bottles at the size I wanted, and was very satisfied with the end results. Using the Dremel again, I repeated the routing process as in part 1, with a 37mm recessed circle in the centre for a tea-light, and a 2-3mm channel forming a crosshurricane candle for the airflow underneath the bottle edges to create the draw. As the real ale bottle was at almost full height, with a narrow neck, I thought it best to have the four vent points rather than just two to hopefully maximize the airflow, particularly as a pillar candle can fill the bottle. The wood was then sanded down, and a couple of coats of dye were applied.

The bottle was placed centrally in position, and marked a starting point for the horseshoe nail on a diagonal line between the centre and the corner of the base. The nail was tapped in without penetrating the bottom face of the base, leaning it back slightly to allow for easier placing of the bottle onto the base without the glass edge hitting metal all the time. About 10 degrees seemed fine. The process was repeated on the opposite corner, allowing for only 2mm or so play between the bottle and the two pins. I figured it would want to be as tight as it dare be, allowing for a small amount of expansion from the candle heat. The other two pins were nailed in position using the same method. In the finish, once warm, the bottle and base lifted up together as one. Time will tell if it proves too tight when very warm, but I think it’s fine so far. I’ve shown the brown beer bottle with both a tea-light and a larger pillar candle inside. Both work well, and look quite good in a fireplace setting.

milk bottle light

 
Overall, I’ve enjoyed a foray into using the combination of wood and glass together, despite my quite limited ability at woodworking. Using the horseshoe nails gives a slightly country or rustic feel to the darkened oak base. It would be interesting to have a similar go on a timber section with some tree bark on the edge. I’ll be using some of the joinery contacts I’ve got at work for some wood offcuts, which might prove easier to router neatly than 100mm squares, but it’s been good to try the nails and general idea. I want to try cylinders from ‘top and tailed’ wine bottles next, with an idea to make a wall-mounted votive type of design , similar to sanctuary or tabernacle lights you see in churches. I know the glass cutting part isn’t going to be a challenge, having done this quite successfully already, but we’ll have to see how I get on with improving the woodwork and metalwork skills first! The ideas floating around in the mind anyway. I can picture what it could potentially look like already, which for me is unusual and quite a good start!

Wooden bases part 1

Having got to grips with chopping the bottoms off bottles cleanly, and getting a very satisfactory final finish, it was time to explore a few options for a bottomless bottle, other than the hanging lights that I’ve done a few of already. Looking around for a few ideas, the combination of coloured glass bottles and wood looks good together, and there’s some good looking designs with hurricane style candle lamps using flat bases. Probably the finest ones I’ve seen have been bases on old barrel sections, but there’s also a number of tea-light holders based on driftwood and logs sections.

Floorboard section

I placed the prepared bottle centrally on the floorboard, and drew round it’s outer circumference for the outline. The inside outline can be gauged by the bottle thickness, which in this case averaged 4-5mm. At this stage, if you place your bottle over a lit candle to gauge how it will look, you will notice that the flame will soon start to struggle and dies.Routered baseYou soon work out that a channel or some other method for drawing air into the bottle is required, creating a chimney ‘drawing’ effect. You could drill a hole in the glass as low as possible, but it’s best not to weaken it too much as it’s likely to be handled a quite a lot.  You could have the base on some feet, and let it draw through some holes in the base if you prefer a less visible solution. In this case, I thought I’d start with a thin channel of about 2-3mm, and deepen it if required to allow more air to drag through. If a tea-light is the intended use, you could also add a central circle outline of around 37-38mm, which would help stop it moving off centre.
 

Floorboard light

I routed the outlines out using a Dremel rotary tool, testing the depth and width of the circles with the bottle till it was a good enough fit. Then I adjusted the router height, and increased the cut depth of the two airflow channels. Once happy enough with the overall bottle fit and airflow performance, the top and all edges were sanded and rounded down, and the wood was given a couple of coats of oak wood dye. I avoided the notion of any varnish or was, as its final use might well be in a warm fireplace, or it may be affected by the heat under the bottle itself, which does get surprisingly warm even with a tea-light. Overall, the finished look is not too bad for a ‘rough and ready’ same day experiment. I retained the tongue and groove parts of the floorboard, just to show its re-used nature. A very cheap and straightforward little experiment using leftover bits and bobs, with only a tea-light as a new expense.

 [skip to wooden bases part 2 here]