Sometimes 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.
Though 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.
I’ve been finding beer bottles particularly useful and good to work with so far, but being teatotal for a few years now, sourcing them was always going to be slightly more problematic than it could have been a while back. People put a few out in their green recycling boxes, but as it’s a shared system with paper round here, it’s not a good idea to be poking about in other peoples bins – leave that to the ID thieves! A few donations have come in , but a chance discovery when walking to work made the penny drop on a potentially very good source that I hadn’t even thought of – the streets, gutters and flora around them.
There’s plenty of people who just throw their bottles down on the street, toss them into bushes, or leave them half-drunk on someones gatepost. I’ve found well over a dozen already just on the ten minute walk to and from work in just a few weeks. It’s surprising how resilient the bottles are to being tossed down and kicked about on tarmac, with only the odd tiny little scuff found on a few. Most have cleaned up beautifully, though there has been the odd slug to deal with inside a couple of them!
Reusing bottles that will just end up smashed in a bottle bank has been fun so far, but I must admit I really like the idea of taking an abandoned bottle that some careless drinker has discarded on the street, and still managing to make it into something very presentable. That’s got to be an ultimate form of recycling – saving discarded glass bottles from being smashed and stood on, run over by car tyres, thrown through someones window or just being old fashioned litter, and giving them a new use. A win-win situation for everyone and the environment. Any parts that are not reused or I break are returned to recycling banks, so all street salvage I collect avoids landfill, which might not always be the case if street cleaners pick them up. I’m getting quite eagle-eyed in spotting the glint of a green bottle in bushes even when it’s dark.
Just for personal interest, I’m running a tally of the number of bottles that have been rescued and reused from the streets as litter at the bottom of the left sidebar on this blog.
Sometime after chatting about the brand, a friend whose surname is Lightfoot fetched in an empty bottle of Theakstons Lightfoot ale to have a go at. This bottle is the typical larger real ale brown beer bottle, which ordinarily doesn’t present any real difficulty in cutting. With this one though, I wanted to preserve the labels, to keep the name connection and hopefully still be able to make something useful.
As the label was large, this only really left one cutting position – on the rim at the top of the bottle before the neck. My preferred method of cut running so far has been the use of pouring and dousing with hot and cold water. However, the Lightfoot labels are paper, so would not last long getting wet, given the proximity to the score line. There wasn’t enough room between the label and score line area to use a sellotape, so I thought I’d give clingfilm a go. I first folded a length over, giving a trouser leg bottom style seam for the closest edge, and wrapped it tightly around the bottle covering the label by about 6-7mm. I took particular care to angle the bottle down, so the water ran away from the wrapped label as much as possible.
A gentle heating and dousing process left a reasonably clean cut, which was then given a very careful finishing with various grade diamond pads, and finally with ultra-soft wire wool. The result was a very good edge and the care taken and the clingfilm wrap left the label totally unaffected, and in the condition it came to me. Care was also taken on rinsing the dust from the edge finishing to preserve the label. Here’s the end result to the left.