Hanging bottle lights

Now I’d made a home-made jig to successfully cut the bottoms from full size wine bottles using the Ephrem’s bottle cutter, I ordered a number of the hanging tealight holders from the Creative Glass Guild in Bristol.

Lit nottle hanger I guess long term the most economical option will be to actually make hangers at home, but these hangers are really excellent quality for the money. There are made from copper plated heavy gauge steel, and come ready to go with the eye-hook hanger and correctly positioned coils for the shoulder centrally suspend the bottle by the shoulder. A formed cup holds the tealight at the base, and the coils can be manipulated to suit the bottle length you have cut. They are very attractive right from the box, and the luscious copper colour makes them ideal for indoor or purely decorative use. Time will tell how they react with the elements outside. I’d imagine they might get their patina over time and look quite rustic. 

Brown bottle hanger

I already had a green bottle prepared from testing the homemade bottle cutter jig (blogpost: jig extension for cutter), so slid it on, lit the tealight, and hung it up outside, as seen in the night photograph above. I’d kept a nicely shaped brown bottle for use as a hanging bottle. I cut it down right at it’s base which went perfectly, as I’ve found the thickness near the bottom can be very variable and therefore difficult to cleanly break. The edges were finished very carefully, as this would be a point of access for hands.  As you can see from the photo, the bell-like shape to this bottle works very well, and makes a very attractive bottle light hanger.

Blue Nun hanger

And just completed and added is this Blue Nun wine bottle. These bottles can be quite erratic in glass thickness and consistency, and difficult to work with as a result, but the colour is really great, and should offer a nicely tinted light at night when lit. I’m looking out for a range of different coloued wine bottles. All of the different shoulder shapes so far have worked fine with these votive hangers, which are very flexible.

Jig extension for cutter

The Ephrem’s cutter is a great piece of kit. By far the best of the two types I’ve used so far (the Ephrem’s and the Armour). Using it’s adjustable end plate and rear wheel positions, you can cut a good range of bottle sizes and achieve various positions of cuts. One project I’m aiming to try out is a hanging bottle tealight lamp, suitable for use in a garden or yard. For those, the bottom of a bottle is cut off, finished, and then the bottle is slid over a coiled wire hanger through the neck, to create a wind sheltering, attractive candle surround, hopefully with some nice bottle colours.

The only way I’d been able to work this cutting length on the Ephrem’s was to remove the end stop, and place the cutter on the kitchen worktop up near to the solid flat face of the fridge-freezer, and use that as an end-stop for the neck end. It was awkward to find the true perpendicular from the fridge for the best cut, and my rolling technique was hampered on one side by the fridge. It also wasn’t going to be the smartest move to risk marking the fridge coating and get a deserved ear-bashing!

Feeling surprisingly resourceful and useful today, I decided to set myself a little ‘scrap-yard challenge’ , to quickly solve this and knock a few of these bottle hangers out in about an hour using just the rough old hand tools and bits of scrap products in the shed. I had the design in mind – a longer base with two firm rails down each side to hold the cutter, which would retain the cutter and allow it to move up and down as required up against a permanent end stop. The Ephrem’s is not wide, so I didn’t need a wide plank for a base – a floorboard offcut  I had was just about right (about 5mm wider would have been ultra-neat), and I cut it to suit a full size wine bottle length, and had plenty left to form the end-stop.

Homemade cutter jigA hardwood quadrant bead remnant from my front door installation last year was ideal to form the two side rails. I also had a couple of 4-holed right angle brackets , which I had put on top of the screw cabinet about 10 years ago thinking “I’ll use them one day” and here that day was! I formed the 90 degree end stop using these brackets, and some salvaged short screws from the old screw tub. The side rails were tacked onto the plank, and that was the job complete – rough as you like – in only about twenty minutes.The only ‘new’ product was half a dozen tacks to nail the side rails on. Unfortunately nails don’t salvage straight, unlike removed screws!

bottomless bottlesThen came the moment of truth – trying it out. The brackets kept the end-stop true and strong, and the rails do their job though the Ephrem’s has non-slip rubber feet (which is the only thing I yet need to find for the jig bottom) so it doesn’t move about much anyway. Three full size wine bottles of different designs were attempted, and gave three good results, which cut cleanly and true. These will be edge-finished tomorrow ready to be used with some wire hangers as garden tealight lamps.

All in all a very cheap and quick little project, which I know will prove to be very useful indeed, and give results that will be popular with friends and family who have the garden space to have BBQs and summer evening outdoor entertaining. It’s almost a complete cycle, as it’s some of those evenings that are providing the empty bottles to make these bottomless bottles.