Table centrepiece

Following on from my earlier wooden bases post, I was very pleased to get a request from a friend for a white coloured base with a tall clear bottle. I had a long think about what to make, and how, as it was a different style to the ones I had been making with stained wooden bases for beer and whiskey cut-down bottles. A full size wine bottle would give the greatest height, though I wondered how good a clear bottle would look as a candle centrepiece, with no colour to the glass. A week or two later, I was then given a perfect bottle for the job, which was clear and tall bodied, but with a very pale tint to the glass. This just gave it a slightly different look, especially as it was being sunk into a white painted base.  I cut the bottom from the bottle as low as possible, taking great care to get it right first score, and edge it very neatly. The end result was ideal for the job.

routered floorboardFor the base, I again used one of the remnants of floorboard from the shed, keeping things ‘reused and recycled’, and measured the diameter of the bottle base at around 75mm to the middle of the glass. fortunately, this wine bottle was pretty round, which they are not always. I set up the circle cutter attachment on the Dremel rotary tool, and found the centre point of the board. Two rotations were done, with a slight adjustment to give a circle of 5-6mm to keep a snug grip on the bottle (approximately 4mm) without being too tight when painted.Dremel circle cutter A quick test fitting showed this to be fine, and the overall depth of around 5mm seems fine to keep the bottle stable.

Once the circle was right, the next job was to create a channel that vents underneath the glass edge for air to draw into the bottle chamber when the candle is burning inside. Ideally, you don’t want this to be too noticeable, but it has to be large enough to draw through sufficient air to allow the flame to thrive, and not self-extinguish. I marked the centre of the back edge to a point about 20mm inside the circle. Switching the Dremel tool to the router edge guide attachment,  I routed a 8mm channel to a depth a further 3mm below the circle channel where the bottle edge sits. testing drawThere’s no science to this bit, so I tested the candle inside the bottle to make sure it drew enough air to burn nicely.

Now all the routing was done, I could cut down the end square from the plank remnant, leaving a uniform 20mm on both sides for symmetry, and begun sanding down the base surfaces and adding a slight radius to the square edges to avoid splinters. To minimise the roughness inside the groves, I found it best to fold over the edge of some sandpaper several times to form a solid block which could be moved around inside the circle to smooth it down a bit. As you are always crossing the grain on a few parts, it was difficult to not have the odd bit of roughness in the grove, but it was sanded as best could be, and the bottle hides this well anyway.

White baseOnce complete, this only left the final coating to get the white look desired. I asked a decorator friend about lime or whitewash products, which are available to buy, but he also suggested watering down a white emulsion. I had some in the shed, and did a test coat on the other end of the remnant at about 60:40 water to paint mix. It worked well, leaving some grain visible, and dried quickly, so I just bashed on and gave it two coats all over, giving the end grains and grooves plenty of mixture to soak in fully. The end result was pleasing, with a slightly washed out feel, and helps to show the pale blue tint off quite nicely. Next job is to successfully ship it off to Norway in one piece, where hopefully it will be useful as a centrepiece for a dining table.

Vinegar bottle

Lately, I’m just continuing to explore everyday bottles and styles to see which are practical to cut down and make use of, further continuing the ethos of using a free source of glass, and keeping things as ‘green’ as possible by second use.

Vinegar bottleAnother piece of glassware that someone donated to try was a Sarson’s Vinegar bottle, which has a long established teardrop shape. The flat bottom and long tapered neck make this bottle a perfect candidate for a cut high up the neck to form a nice shape for a small cut flower vase.

The label was removed, and I used the G2 cutter to score the neckline. The curved shape of the bottle prohibits using the Ephrem’s horizontal cutter, and this is where the G2 comes into it’s own. I used a carefully directed pour of hot water onto the score, rotating it several times over the sink to get some temperature into the glass. I then doused  it under a cold running tap, rotating the bottle to get a complete and visible break in the score line. This is my preferred and most successful method of cutting bottles. Another pour of hot water on the score then separates the two parts very cleanly. Vinegar bottle vase

With the high cut line, the opening is quite small, so very careful edging with the diamond pads is required to avoid and unsightly chips or scratches. A clean cut is a bonus here, leaving little work to do, so the end result, seen here to the right, was very satisfactory. Another  example of everyday  packaging on a simple low-cost item that can be used for something else before it hits the recycling bin.

Mother’s Day

I’m making a copper-foil stained glass design for my mam, but it’s not going to be ready for about a month as it is being done in an evening class, so thought I may as well just make something simple in the mean time for her back room conservatory to go with the same old box of chocolates on Mother’s day. Olive wine bottle vase It’s teatime of the night before, so quick and simple is the plan. Out to the stockpile of bottles in the yard I go for a quick assessment, and I plump for an olive curved wine bottle that I only got this last week.

It has a curved shoulder, which is something I’m practising more and more cuts on using the G2 cutter. These have been problematical so far, as you are less likely to hit the same spot on rotation due to the lean on the cutter as you move it around. Also the shape has proven a big problem when heating and breaking the glass, with a lot of stress being released, particularly on the blue bottles I’ve tried so far. Ever determined to crack it, I still went for an optimistic cutting point, and adjusted the cutter to give me the best chance of a clean score line. Olve wine bottle flower vaseIt went well, as I’ve learned to avoiding pulling down too much, and employ a firmer side grip to keep the head on track. This left no more than about one third of a millimetre between the start and finish heights before joining. Hopefully the score would break cleanly enough to edge easily, and so it proved, with some milder fracture craters, that didn’t need too much edging with the various grade diamond blocks to come up clean and smooth.

I’ve put a few artificial flower stems in it to show the overall look of a higher cut wine bottle. Really simple, about 30-40 minutes work at most. It will be something to decorate the conservatory windowsill for spring.