Old Tom bottle candles

One very useful bottle I’ve had donated a couple of times is an Old Tom strong ale bottle, which comes in various flavours, including a chocolate beer. It’s has a heavily embossed branding section on the main body section, but the neck and bottom sections have protruding smooth sections that are just big enough to set the cutting wheel onto, which makes them useful for container cuts or for removing the bottom.

The bottles usuallywick setting cut pretty well as the glass is consistent and fairly thick, and the preparation of the edges goes very well indeed as a result. The photo to the right shows the cut at the neck, finished to a good standard.

Once prepared, the first step I take is to place the wick in the centre of the bottle. I prefer to use  small piece of 1mm black high tack double sided tape to stick it to the bottom of the glass, to really help it stick and allow a strong tension upwards for straightness. Once centred, I wrap it round a wick pin, which I find easier than to pierce the wick with it, as it enables you to tension the wick if required. Orange candle

All that remains is to pour in the candle. I like to use a strong colour dye, such as orange or red, to give a bit of contrast to the bottle colour. There’s much better advice on candle-making on the net than my efforts, but I’ve been quite pleased with the results so far. Most look pretty neat, and make a nice gift for family or a friend. I made a couple for the friend who donated the bottles, and they keep them on the fireplace just for show as they like the end look. The bottle diameter has been good for the candle burn and the melt-pool, without tunnelling, and a test burn I did for curiosity showed a full Old Tom burned for over 24 hours.


Brut bottle hurricane

Following on from the successful use of a heavy bottle bottom for a copper foil sun-catcher, I wanted to try it again with a nice looking one on a Brut bottle. This one had a rope effect edge, and dotted circular textures on the punt, so I cut it about 8-10mm above the top of the punt. This left the rest of the bottle to use, and the bottle end will be used in another post in the near future.

floorboard hurricane

The long curving corked top neck looked good to form a chimney of sorts, so I decided to make a hurricane base for the bottle as cut. I cut a square base out of a floorboard remnant, and routed a circle into it for the bottle to sit in. I then made a deeper groove at the back, and drilled through into the groves section to create a concealed breather hole to allow air flow the chimney effect to feed the candle. The base was then sanded smooth for ease of handling, and a coat of light oak dye added for final effect.

Once dry, all that remained was to test the drawing effect of the base with a tea-light, which worked well. The top of the bottle got very hot even with a tea-light, but the glass is very thick, and a long burn showed it to be ok. Another ‘upcycled’ project completed with hardly any cost at all other than time and a tealight.



Cobra beer candle

Cobra candleI’ve cut and shown the Cobra beer bottles after chopping previously, with the fantastic embossed designs of an eastern look all around the main body. They really look great with a flickering candle behind them, as shown with tea-lights in an earlier post, but I’d not yet made one into a poured candle, will would work just as well, revealling more of the embossed designs as the candle burns away. This weekend I got my hands on a couple more Cobra empties, so decided to do just that. Here’s the result.

Coca-Cola candles

After a wait of a few months to find a glass Coca Cola bottle to have another go at, I’ve been given two yesterday, so got cracking right away. The famous curved shape with ribs is good looking, but difficult to find a place to cut, with only the flat mid section any real use as a cutting point. Though it’s a packaging icon, I think you still need the logo remaining to differentiate it from a normal soda bottle cut, so there is a tight, but achievable, spot for the G2 cutter head just above the logo, under the ribs, to target. Both cuts were clean, and broke successfully using hot and cold water. The bottles were then edged off with care to leave a neat edge.

 After my first attempt at a Coca-Cola botte, which went well until I overheated the glass when attempting to level off the candle top and cracked the glass, I bought some black wax dye to try next time I got one of these bottles. I poured the wax in as far I could to keep the flame inside the glass, and left them to set. I’m still learning better techniques to try and avoid sweating on the glass surface, so I warmed the glass a little before pouring, and wrapped them in tin-foil to try and slow the cooling process down a bit. I’ve not added any fragrance in these two, as I’ve nothing suitable in at the moment, but I would imagine something on the lines of an aniseed or vanilla would work pretty well. This photo shows them just after the pour. Hopefully they will be not too sweaty or grey-ish in colour when cooled and levelled off.

Sanctuary lamp

Following on from some of the wooden base hurricane style projects, I’ve had in mind for a while the notion of making a pair of sanctuary style candle lamps, based loosely on the coloured cylinder sanctuary lamps you can often see in churches. A candle burning in a coloured cylinder has always seemed quite appealing in look, and an open topped cylinder should present no real complication in maintaining airflow to keep the flame burning well. First stop is to make the glass cylinders from coloured wine bottles.

cylinderI had four olive coloured wine bottles available, and had two pairs in terms of both colour tint and shape, which should allow for simple making of two matching coloured cylinders. Ten months into the hobby, I’m now pretty confident in cutting wine bottles and finishing the bottle edges to a good, clean standard , so two closely matching cylinders didn’t prove difficult.  Next stage is to make a base or holder for the cylinders.

I’ve corbelnever been a skilled woodworker, but a few projects into using the Dremel circle cutter attachment, I’m beginning to find my own best method to get a neat routed circle into timber, so wood is starting to look more and more a complimentary material for cut bottle projects. I’m even beginning to start to think about taking a local wood-turning course in the future, which could be complimentary to bottle cutting. A wooden base for the cylinder was the choice, though I’m not up to creating anything structured, so i looked around and found a number of pairs of corbels for sale on Ebay, as I thought a corbel could be promising as the wall mount. A pair with a flat top of around 95mm square were found and ordered, and that was near ideal size for the approximate 72mm diameter wine bottle cylinders.

corbel routingNext step was to router the circle into the flat top, after gauging the outer radius of the glass cylinder at around 37mm. Some comfort room for glass expansion and wood movement is required. I wanted the end finish to be as neat as possible and, as it was going to be cutting into the end grain, I was concerned about splintering and general untidiness. I set the first sweep round at 1.5mm, and only a third of the max revs of the Dremel. This gave a very neat circle, which was pleasing, and I tested the cylinder fit, which was ideal. I cleaned out the groove and continued the same gradual process having increased the depth of cut by another 1.5mm or so, and repeated this process four times to get a good depth of around 6mm minimum. This should give enough support to avoid any accidental falling of the cylinder from the mount. The groove was very neat, as can been seen in the photo, and a light sanding was performed to soften the edge down a little.

sanctuary lampLast job was to mount a candle, light it and add the cylinder into the groove, and test how the candles burns. Despite no chimney effect from a bottom air feed, the open top should be ample to allow the flame to be fed enough oxygen to thrive. So far, so good.

A second corbel was routed in the same way, with identical results. I think I’ll add an English Oak dye finish to the corbels, though I’ve no particular plan of where they will will end up. Quite a pleasing attempt, as I didn’t expect it to go quite as well as it did. Certainly the neatest bit of wood routing I’ve managed so far.


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.

Wooden bases part 1

Having got to grips with chopping the bottoms off bottles cleanly, and getting a very satisfactory final finish, it was time to explore a few options for a bottomless bottle, other than the hanging lights that I’ve done a few of already. Looking around for a few ideas, the combination of coloured glass bottles and wood looks good together, and there’s some good looking designs with hurricane style candle lamps using flat bases. Probably the finest ones I’ve seen have been bases on old barrel sections, but there’s also a number of tea-light holders based on driftwood and logs sections.

Floorboard section

I placed the prepared bottle centrally on the floorboard, and drew round it’s outer circumference for the outline. The inside outline can be gauged by the bottle thickness, which in this case averaged 4-5mm. At this stage, if you place your bottle over a lit candle to gauge how it will look, you will notice that the flame will soon start to struggle and dies.Routered baseYou soon work out that a channel or some other method for drawing air into the bottle is required, creating a chimney ‘drawing’ effect. You could drill a hole in the glass as low as possible, but it’s best not to weaken it too much as it’s likely to be handled a quite a lot.  You could have the base on some feet, and let it draw through some holes in the base if you prefer a less visible solution. In this case, I thought I’d start with a thin channel of about 2-3mm, and deepen it if required to allow more air to drag through. If a tea-light is the intended use, you could also add a central circle outline of around 37-38mm, which would help stop it moving off centre.

Floorboard light

I routed the outlines out using a Dremel rotary tool, testing the depth and width of the circles with the bottle till it was a good enough fit. Then I adjusted the router height, and increased the cut depth of the two airflow channels. Once happy enough with the overall bottle fit and airflow performance, the top and all edges were sanded and rounded down, and the wood was given a couple of coats of oak wood dye. I avoided the notion of any varnish or was, as its final use might well be in a warm fireplace, or it may be affected by the heat under the bottle itself, which does get surprisingly warm even with a tea-light. Overall, the finished look is not too bad for a ‘rough and ready’ same day experiment. I retained the tongue and groove parts of the floorboard, just to show its re-used nature. A very cheap and straightforward little experiment using leftover bits and bobs, with only a tea-light as a new expense.

 [skip to wooden bases part 2 here]