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!

Blue bottle vase

I’ve not come across blue glass quite so easily since I started cutting bottles, and am always keen to get more as the results look good. I could go out and buy blue glass bottle products, of course, but that’s kind of defeating the object of having a free cost material to work with.

I received a second blue bottle of Ty Nant spring water, which is a teardrop shaped glass bottle with a long narrow neck. The first one I tried turned out to be a bit of a disaster, and ran in all sorts of directions, including in straight vertical lines down the bottle when heated, which is something I’ve not come across before. Four attempts to salvage something from the bottle with fresh spaced cuts down the bottle all failed and it was a dead loss. I was left wondering if the shape of the bottle was a problem in terms of adding stress to the glass, as the straight runs particularly at the neck curve were quite explosive under the warm water pouring. Or was it maybe a peculiarity of heating blue glass, as I had also a lot of problems with the Blue Nun bottles, which were regular cylindrical shapes, though quite uneven. Time will tell as I learn more through practise, but blue glass is something I’m going to attempt very carefully to try to increase the chances of success than I’ve had so far.

So on my second attempt at a Ty Nant blue bottle, I first tried to remove aboutBlue bottle vase 80mm from the narrow neck at the top, using the G2 cutter. I positioned the cutting wheel so there was a clear contact , though this was not so easy given the curving nature of the glass. The score line was good, and I began to gently heat the glass with the hot water for a couple of rotations. Then on quenching under a cold running tap, the reflection of a clean break could be seen, but not all the way around, and by then the temperatures had fallen, so it was back to reheating. This is the point where it is more vulnerable, as a single clean break all the way round first time seems to produce the best results. On the second quench, it began to run off, so I stopped immediately, and dried the bottle for a second cut further down the bottle.

Second time around was successful, as can be seen from the photo above. I left a good 40mm or so from the failed cut, as I knew the likelyhood of a vertical split was high. I heated the glass gently, but for longer, and got a visible break first time all the way round the circumference under quenching. A second gentle heating then cleanly separated the two halves. I edged down the top very carefully and patiently indeed, using three grades of diamond pads in a bowl of warm water. I really didn’t want any slips, and subsequent scratches to spoil this piece. It went well, and I’ve got another very attractive blue glass item. It makes for a good vase (140mm high, around 80-90mm wide).