Tomato ketchup bottle

A colleague fetched in a Heinz 57 tomato sauce bottle to see if it was any good to try, so have given it a go. The bottom of the bottle is quite promising, with octagon faceting, with radius tops at the neckline. Above that the neck returns to a round shape, has four of the famous ’57’ logo numbers  and tapers away forming the neck. Heinz Ketchup 

The shape dictates using a vertical aligned cutter, in this case I used the G2. The neck opening is larger than most wine bottles, and I wondered if would cause an issue of control when the cutter was spun in the opening, but it fitted fine. The only viable cutting line to leave a nice design was just above the ’57’ numbers. The cutting head was at an angle, so I had to keep a firm grip on the support arm and be careful to ensure the line didn’t drift up or down as it sometimes can as you move round on the more awkward shapes. The cut was clean enough, and these ketchup bottles are slightly thicker than most beer bottles, so it broke relatively cleanly, and presented no difficulty to careful arrissing of the edges. '57' Ketchup bottle 

The end result isn’t a bad looking pot at all, with a bit more about it than some bottle chops. For use it could be a little mini-vase say for a kitchen window cill, but in this first instance, I’ve ordered some red wax dye, and will pour a ketchup coloured candle into it. I’ll try to add a photo of it in the near future if successful.

Water breaking

After a good deal of experimenting, and observing other people’s methods on the Internet, I’ve settled into a routine method for cutting and breaking glass bottles that really works well for me. I guess it’s about finding your own preferred method, but some of the well publicised ones , to me at least, leave a lot to be desired, and the results demonstrated speak for themselves. In this post, I hope to break down the steps I take to demonstrate my best method of cutting bottles, which is one I regularly get around 80%+ success rate with. Though not as demonstrative as a video, the photos and blog post should hopefully still  be useful to follow my own chosen technique, which has worked very consistently over several hundred of cut bottles so far.

The first step to cutting a bottle successfully is the most obvious, but often the most overlooked in terms of a prime reason why the bottle cutting fails. There are some methods of breaking a glass bottle using heat from an acetone-soaked string line, or an electric current, or even hot oil inside the bottle, but most demonstrated results are often quite poor. I only use, and recommend, the traditional glass scoring technique, using a glass or dedicated bottle cutter.clean scoreline This helps to create a consistent and clean score line which should run well if performed correctly. This is the key stage to a successful cut in my opinion. A singular, light, clean and unbroken score line is essential, and, beginners to the hobby might be tempted to have a heavy score line to feel they are breaking into the glass. Heavy scorelines, that leave lots of flakes are the most likely to crack and run off when breaking commences. A consistent, gentle pressure with the two ends meeting is what you need. Ensure your wheel is lightly oiled, and don’t go over the same scoreline twice. You want a nice, clean scoreline as the photo right. Without this clean start, the odds of a poor break are magnified.

hot water pourWhen it comes to the breaking, I’ve settled on the hot and cold water method observed on YouTube, with reliable and good results right from day one. The Ephrem’s cutter comes with a candle to use in conjunction with a block of ice, but I found that technique very unsatisfactory. It was messy, slow and gave poor results. I much prefer to use a pouring kettle, and a cold running tap. Depending on the thickness of the glass (thinner glass go slightly cooler), I use the kettle just “off the boil” (around the 70-80 degrees Celsius mark, though I don’t use a thermometer). Using a kettle means you can pour a neat line of water just over the score area, without letting it spread too widely across the body of the bottle, which I find helps a great deal. My preferred method is to use a sink bowl for balancing the bottle, and rotate the bottle around a few revolutions, pouring the hot water over the score as i rotate slowly.  fracture lineI used to try creeping the cut by flashing a section with hot water and immediately quenching it under the cold, but this isn’t as consistent as a full score heating by several turns. When I gauge the bottle to be hot enough after three or four turns, I then rotate the score under a slowly running cold tap, turning it fully to quench it as quickly and uniformly as possible. This should give you a clearly visible fracture line all the way around the bottle, as photographed to the right. When you have this look all the way around, without any runs, you know you’ve got it sussed.

clean breaks

A second, gentle pour with some hot water is usually enough to separate it fully at this stage, and the two parts completely separate without any human touch required, leaving clean edges ready for smoothing. No bottle will be completely flat when separated, but this technique gives you consistently very straight edges as the photo to the left shows, which are straight-forward to finish (see my preferred method in the post edge finishing) . I’ve used it on thin beer bottles, small condiment bottles, wine bottles and very thick whisky bottles all to a good standard. It’s by far the best way I’ve come across so far, regardless of which bottle cutter you initially use.

Peppermill pot

When you are looking for new ideas, particularly with background ethos of this blog being finding free glass sources from day to day life, it’s always worthwhile taking a look at every glass item you use or find to see if it could be useful. I’m always looking at jars, pots and bottles both on the supermarket shelves or, if bought and used, just before they go in the recycling bin.

Peppercorn millOne item that I took a closer look at when empty and about to be recycled was a small spice-jar sized black peppercorn mill. The plastic grinding mill section hides the top edge, so I didn’t know if it would be suitable for any use until the plastic was prized off with a small screwdriver. Pepper mill pot To my surprise, the top of the pot was not like a regular spice jar, but had a turreted edge, which is clearly a structural part of the grinder mechanism fixing. This gave me two initial thoughts on how to use it. As you can see from the photo on the right, it’s quite an attractive shaped pot, so was a prime candidate to pour a candle into. The other thought I had, which I will hopefully try after the next one is empty, would follow on from this weeks creative glass course learning, and copper-foil the turreted edge and other parts of the body to enhance the ‘castle’ shape of the pot. For this one, as I happen to be on with another candle pot, I decide to go with the candle thought, which meant no further work on the glass than just striping off the label and grinder, and giving it a good scrub out – dead easy!

Turret edgeA full size wick was adhered to the internal base, and another unexpected bonus of the turret top was that it was perfect to place a centralised wick holding pin for the pouring and setting stage. The paraffin wax was dyed orange, and right at the last moment before pouring I added some orange and cinnamon fragrance. Oranfe candleholderAs usual, some slumping occurred around the wick, so a number of gentle reheats were required using the gas torch to level off. I guess the narrow circumference makes this more of a problem than with beer and wine bottles which only need a secondary remelt normally.