Candles in the cut bottles

Tealights are a simple and inexpensive option – just drop one in the your candle-holder, maybe mounted in some sand or decorative stones , and there you have it. Light it and change to a new one when expired. If you want something with a longer burn time, then putting a bigger candle in your bottle-made candle-holder is straight forward.  Obviously, you could get into candle-making, and make your own candle using your bottle projects as the receptacles, but that’s another hobby to learn and do. I think I will try it sometime soon, but just for now, I thought I’d try out the holders using a regular shop bought candle.

How to mount the candle in a bottle bottom became the next question. These can be flat, or they can also be domed in the case of wine bottles – not ideal to fix a candle to. The candle needs to be relatively secure, so it doesn’t fall or rattle about when it is inevitably leaned over when being moved. Do I make some sort of metal spike base, to spear the candle to the bottom of the jar? That could be messy, unreliable, create fractures and make it tricky to clean out safely when the candle life was expired. Melted wax sticks to glass, so I heated the base of the candle over the bottle body using a butane torch, and let some wax drop into the base, until the bottom was covered in a few millimetres of wax. Then I heated the bottle bottom to re-liquify the wax in the bottle base, and when melted, I place the candle down and held it until the two waxes combined and stuck. The problem with this process is that it was messy, leaving drips down the side of the bottle, and also it was difficult to get the candle to set in a perfectly upright position. The end result, though solid and reliable for moving about, was not the prettiest it could be. Certainly not to the standard where you would buy it in a shop ( a classic Quality Control test I use from years of manfacturing employment). Time for Plan B.

In a new candle-holder, I placed a new scented lavender candle that was a close fit (45mm diameter in a 52mm bottle body), which can be seen in the photograph here:

lavender candle


I guess this is where I should say “Don’t try this at home”, but it was my hands at risk, and I had brought my wrist protectors and gloves home from work for the night, and wore protective eyewear also. I gently heated the glass directly with the butane torch, and rotated it continuously, to hopefully avoid overheating. As the candle was a snug fit, the radiated heat began to melt the candle, and you could see it filling the glass from the bottom upward. The candle was a good quality one, with solid colour throughout, rather than just a coloured outer shell. This maintained the lavender colour, and as it filled the holder, it began to look really good. The process was completed without any feared glass shattering, and near the top, I put the holder on a flat surface so that it would be as near to level on the top as it set. It settled very nicely, and just required a little cleaning around the top edge of the glass where it had slumped down from the liquid level. As it was a remelt from the sides, the centre was largely unaffected too much, so the wick stayed dead centre. Now it looked much more like something that would pass the QC self-test.

 Here’s the end result:  

remelted candle

Clear and Simple

A very inexpensive and simple type of bottle that has turned out very useful has come from something I actually drink myself – j2o orange bottles.

j2o original size

I started with the original size bottles, with the longer necks, but actually the smaller party pack sized bottles are proving to be even more useful than the regular ones, and at something like around £5 for 12, give me a good number to have a go at.

The labels virtually float off invisibly after only a few minutes soaking in hot water, and the bottles are instantly sparking with just a quick dry on a tea-towel , proving them to be very easy to prepare! They are great size to roll on the Ephrem’s , and cut really well.

j2o party size

Though they feel very smooth to touch, it’s when they are clean and cut that you really notice the attractive ripple effect in the glass as the light refracts through the bottle. I’ve kept some of the short necks from these bottles for using as bases for green beer bottles in the mixed colour effects, but they are quite attractive just on their own, and seem to be popular with people I’ve shown them to so far. I’ve passed some of them on to friends and family, who are using them with tealights.

Mixing colours

Following on from the accidental success of the blue glass bottle bottom on a green neck, I carried on with switching bodies and necks over. Though it’s a matter of personal taste, I think mixing the colours can make them even more effective, no matter what the size or shape.

As coloured glass is more effective than clear for tealights, adding a pleasing tint to the flickering flame and the light radiated, I put a shorter green beer bottle bottom on a clear stubby neck. For a design that would perhaps be to show things off better .eg. for a cut flower vase, a decorative or carved candle , potpourri, coloured beads etc , I put a tall clear body, on a longer green neck.

Mixed glass colours

Blue bottles

I was keen to get hold of some blue glass, so was pleased to get a Blue Nun wine bottle from a friend. Blue glass bottles look particularly good, and there’s a lot less of them around than green, clear and brown. I removed the neck sleeve, and soaked it in hot water to remove the label and soften the glue enough to remove the last traces with a flat, sharp blade. 

On examining the body prior to cutting, to look for the best approach and place to set the score, I noticed that these bottles were particularly rippled, which you could easily feel spinning the body around in your hand. The bottle was also quite off-round too. I scored the bottle quite high up, intending to make a vase/candle holder using the bulk of the body cylinder on it’s own neck. The first cut skipped about quite a bit on the rollers, so it wasn’t surprising to see it start to run off. I stopped the heating process, to leave it as strong as possible for another cut and inch or so down.

Despite extra care the second, third attempts to repeat the process also failed as the bottle ran off – a mixture of the bumpy process, the off-round shape and a bit of inexperience on my part of cutting such bottles. I thought I was going to lose the entire bottle, which would have been a shame as it was quite hard to get hold of a blue. The fifth cut finally proved successful, leaving a much shorter body of about two inches – something at least. It didn’t look right on the same neck, with the proportions all wrong, so I just finished the edges off nicely then left it to one side to think about what to use it for.

I begun playing around with the odd few bits of spare necks and bodies I had cut, and started to place the blue remnant on all of the necks I had. One in particular, the Kronenburg 1664 neck remnant kept from an earlier project, looked great in combination with it – almost like a strange looking flower. As both were previously finished, I got the UV glue out and bonded them together right away, taking care to make sure this one stuck centrally and was balanced. It is by far my favourite piece so far, partly because of the work done to salvage anything from the blue bottle, but also because of the chance combination of two good looking colours whose shapes work well and create a flower.

A very pleasing end result:

Blue and green 'flower'

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.

Clear glass bonding

Having drank a couple of J2o orange drinks, the bottles looked promising in terms of shape to form a relatively attractive candle-holder. The base was flat, which should make for easier bonding onto a neck, and it also had a good cylindrical body. The shoulder part looked wide enough to be stable, and was quite shapely with a double curve, almost Ovalo style. I wasn’t sure at first that the bottle would fit on the Ephrem’s jig, but it’s much the same as an average beer bottle, so rotated comfortably on the rollers.

The pretty consistent glass cut nicely, just on the right point to make a nice foot for the neck to become the base. There was a small circle impression on there, from the bottle manufacture (a holding point presumably), bit it didn’t interfere with the cut, which turned out very cleanly. One of the YouTube videos said beer bottles were hard to cut because the glass was thin, but though this was a similar bottle, I didn’t find it any more difficult than the thicker wine bottle.  The two cut edges were finished with the diamond edging pads, and I repeated the bonding process as with the wine bottle. The glue application was fine, and because this bottle bottom was flat I decided to do the bond right in the window cill, and after pressing the bond to spread the UV glue, I just left the body rest on the neck without holding it. It didn’t move, and in the bright sun, the bond was solid after only about 30 seconds. I guess being clear glass aided that curing time also. The bond itself was very consistent, and almost undetectable from most angles. The smooth curve of the neck mouth seems to allow the bonding glue to level off just nicely and form a circular bond that blends in beautifully if you get the amount and even pressure to spread just right. I’m maybe using more than is required, but it looks good.

I left the candle-holder in the window for another hour or so, and then buffed it up to a sparkle. At this stage the bottle begins to show it’s ripples and waves in strong light, which is a nice effect. Here’s the end result:

Clear candle-holder