A hot and sunny bank holiday Sunday gave an ideal chance to get outside and do some cutting and soldering in the yard, avoiding fumes and glass splinters in the house. I wanted to make another bottle centre suncatcher, this time as a gift for an upcoming celebration.
First thing to do was to look in the box of glass sheets and see what might work together. I had bought a number of random pack sheets, and had a yellow and white opalescent Spectrum sheet that I hadn’t seen a use for previously. I wanted to make an offset coloured border around the suncatcher like the last one I made, which turned out strong and attractive, so settled on that colour. A brown beer bottle centre was ideal for the job, this time made from a discarded bottle of Budweiser collected from a street on the walk home from work. With a near solid yellow border, and a brown bottle centre, I wanted a semi opaque glass that would compliment and blend both together. I had a part-used light amber Cathedral sheet from a recent prairie style hanger which was perfect for the job.
Cutting the glass went very easily this time round. Using the cross template, the amber Cathedral cut beautifully, with no problems around the circle outline of the bottle bottom. As further practise for cutting accuracy, I again cut the yellow border just on a measurement basis, with no template, which was close enough for soldering, but did require the use of pins to manipulate slightly to make all the joints meet up smoothly and look square when tinned.
Soldering was completed neatly using K grade solder. To finish off, a corner hanger with longer legs to cross over two pieces of the border for strength was added to the top corner, and I went with a copper patina finish to nicely compliment the yellow and brown colours. The amber and yellow tones all blend together nicely, and has some favourable reactions already.
Another bank holiday weekend comes around, and last night I was given an empty large Baileys Irish cream bottle by a relative, so just bashed right on with it today.
The bottles are very dark olive green in colour, and hardly passes any light through the glass, even in direct sunlight. This makes it limited for use with candles, for example using it as a hanger or a hurricane. The bottom of the bottle has a rotation stopping dimple in it above the level of the Baileys embossed text at the bottom of the bottle, so that leaves it hard to chop for a centre without having to go very deep in to the bottle. Best use for it is the simplest one – a straight forward chop at the top to make a heavyweight vase or pot.
These thick bottles can be pretty easy to do once you’ve had a few goes. The weight of the glass needs a big thermal shock to break through cleanly to leave a flattish surface, so you don’t have to spend an excessive amount of time finish it. This requires a big heat to split, so needs to have a very clean cut to avoid breaking poorly. The G2 cutter is ideal for the job. I cut a clean, light score with the G2, and gave it a long heat (about 10 rotations) in hot water just off the boil, then a quick full rotation under a running cold tap to shock it. A second hot water pour split the bottle very cleanly indeed, leaving a flat surface that only needed about 20 minutes work with 3 grades of diamond pad (125/400/800 grit) to leave a very smooth, symmetrical and neat finish indeed. A simple bottle cut to make a useful, solid pot for no real cost other than a half hour of time.
I bought a small square of bullseye reeded glass about a year ago, intending to use it in a prairie style copperfoil design at sometime, but when I came to make one recently, it didn’t really work in with the other colours I picked, so I set it aside for another use. I also had a grey cathedral glass, again for another idea initially, but the two together looked good, giving a sort of black and white look, so that’s the way I decided to go.
A clear mini wine bottle bottom, rescued from a street nearby a month or two back, was picked out of the pile, and cut and prepared for foiling. Clear was the only choice to avoid any colour in the design. I centred the bottle end on the cross template, and cut a 100x100mm square of grey cathedral glass, cutting it into four, then shaping the arc around the outline of the bottle end. I then cut the reeded glass into 20x120mm strips to be able to form a border around the grey square, offsetting the corners for strength. I ground the edges a little in parts to level off to ensure a tight and neat fit when foiled, and used silver backed copper foil tape to allow a silver finish in the end to compliment the monochrome look. Soldering was completed using K grade solder, and cleaned up to give a shiny finish.
When hung in the light, the two directions of the reeded glass catches the light differently, giving an effect of four different tones across the whole design, which works very well in a monochrome way. I’m really pleased with the end result.
Patrick Lehoux, the creator of the Kinkajou bottle cutter, has launched a very interesting looking second project on kickstarter.com to enhance the bottle cutting experience, namely a bottle neck stem which he has called The Jaribu. You read and see more of the project on The Jaribu Kickstarter page.
The idea is to manufacture a stable and hygienic base which allows you to utilise the often redundant neck sections of cut bottles, and make them into glassware. As is often the case, the beauty and success of such ideas is the simplicity of design and execution. The tapered stem will fit and seal a great number of bottle neck styles and sizes, allowing the necks to be used as funky drinking glasses, while offering a stable base footing. They will also be very useful to make small vases for cut flowers and table centrepieces.
What I really like about the designs are the very attractive base and colours, and the benefits of a removable base for hygienic cleaning compared to fixed glass bottom glasses on many go without saying. It’s not easy to clean down a bottle neck that is permanently sealed off, even with bottle brushes, and this way also keeps glass glues away from the consumed liquids. With a removable stopper, you can simply replace the bottle neck in the event of a breakage, which is a big plus. I’ve tried one of the commercially made beer bottle glasses at a relative’s house, and they are nice looking and perfectly fine, but this gives the hobbyist a chance to make some interesting products in a very sustainable way. It gives the idea of an upturned bottle glass a much cleaner and more modern look than those ugly bottle bottom bases you see in the few books on the subject.
It’s no surprise to see that the project has already massively smashed it’s initial fundraising target of $15,000, with almost 700 backers pledging nearly $50,000 already. I’ve backed it, and look forward to trying them out after launch. Looks like Patrick is well onto the way of another very successful product, enhancing the bottle-cutting experience a great deal.