Backless Bottom Centres

Right from the start of mixing bottle bottoms with copper-foil designs, I’ve used a 3mm UV-bonded clear circle blank as a backing piece for the bottle ends, as I’ve always felt it adds strength though a fully soldered joint and overall appearance improvement. Occasionally though, despite very careful bonding, and neat soldering, a few drops of water have sneaked through into the enclosed bottle bottom cavity when washing away the patina. I’ve managed to dry them out using natural sunlight, open fires and even industrial desiccant, but it’s not without some water streaks left inside to drive me mad! No-one notices them, but I do. I still think it’s by far the best way to make them though, but out of curiosity for the alternative, I thought I would try one without backing as an experiment.rearsoldering

I begun by foiling the cut edge of the bottle bottom, which , with care, wasn’t as untidy as I thought it could be. I lifted the bottle end up towards the front surface using some 3mm glass, ensuring the front solder was as substantial and visually neat as the backed centres method. This ensures a good looking front face, which is the most important thing in a window hung design. This leaves a step between the two rear foiled surfaces, for solder to form a sloped join.backlessamber The result is ok, but does need the sort of working that puts a lot of heat in during smoothing. It’s pretty strong, but what I don’t like about this method is that it leaves a tinned edge on the upper edge of the round, which is a little bit vulnerable to careless cleaning. From the front, you wouldn’t really tell the difference between the two methods, and it looks good hanging on a window surface. I guess time wise, it probably saves a good half-hour or so from by cutting out the  need for a 3mm circle and the UV bonding, but I still prefer the end results from the backed method I’ve been developing over the last year or two. It’s been useful to try it out, and I would use this method again on a design that is very one-sided in viewing orientation.

Jaribu bottle top stem

Patrick Lehoux, the creator of the Kinkajou bottle cutter, has launched a very interesting looking second project on to enhance the bottle cutting experience, namely a bottle neck stem which he has called The Jaribu. 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.

Mini wine bottle suncatcher

I’m really enjoying combining the copper-foil stained glass techniques with some aspect of bottle cutting to make something a bit more unusual. I wanted to make something a little bit smaller, but liked the look of the larger protruding wine bottle centres, so the next thing I wanted to use as a centre was a mini wine bottle end. blue hanger I had a lightly blue tinted clear mini wine bottle, so decided to use that one to see how a clearer centre would look in a coloured square.

I cut the mini wine bottle at a height of about 20mm, to give the centre a bit of depth. It separated well, and was flatted to allow for a good gluing surface onto a tightly cut circle of 3mm clear glass. I had a square of turquoise/blue/white bullseye glass which looked good and suitable for the centre, so I cut it to the cross template I’ve made for suncatchers. Sadly, one piece broke off along a seam of white, which is always a potential problem with streaky glass of several colours. Working around the problem, I cut two new squares of a complimentary blue and white streaky glass, and set them as opposites, like in a harlequin style. I soldered the suncatcher very carefully and neatly with K-grade solder, and cleaned it up leaving a nicely shiny end result. It looks great in the light, and is going to a friend in Norway, where it should look great in the long summer evening light.

Wine bottle suncatcher

I was keen to try another suncatcher using a bottle end, and had a punted olive wine bottle end left over from a bottle chop after making another candle hurricane from it.Wine bottle hurricane It had a nicely textured punted end, so I thought it would be a good one to keep.  I picked up another good soldering tip from an excellent instructional DVD from Tempsford Glass, so wanted to try it out as soon as possible, and get a much better looking bead.

First thing to do was clean up the bottle end cut, to prepare it for bonding. I then cut another circle in 3mm clear glass, about 5-6mm greater in diameter than the bottle end. The prepared bottle end was then bonded to the circle using the daylight curing UV glue, and left to cure in the light for a day. Wine bottle suncatcherThe bottle end was cleaned up to remove any grease and I then wrapped the clear circle edge with the copper foil. Next stage is to draw around the bottle end, and create a template for the hanger, making sure to neatly centralise the bottle end in the design. In this case, I used a centre cross, and cut a square of a nice antique Cathedral glass in amber, with plenty of seeds and lines in it. The design was then cleaned and edged in copper foil prior to soldering. The tip of angling the iron tip onto its point and feeding the solder melt from above worked very well indeed, and I got a much better bead than I had previously achieved.

wine bottle hangerThe last stage was to make and add a wire hanger using copper wire, and to clean it up. The extra depth and weight of the wine bottle end didn’t cause any difficulty with this design, and the colours complemented each other pretty well in the direct sunlight. The texture of the premium amber glass sheet is really nice in the sunlight. The smaller size square I used helps the larger diameter bottle end dominate the design a bit more, and I think it’s a much better end result than my first one. 

Copperfoil bottle designs

I’ve finally got around to begining a first attempt at incorporating my bottle cutting hobby with the copper-foil stained glass I begun to learn earlier this year. It’s something I’ve been meaning to get round to for a while, and had two initial plans of making a window hanging design, and using a bottle bottom as a ’roundel’ style centre.

copperfoil hangerThe first thing was to cut a bottle bottom, so I chose a brown beer bottle, and cut it as low as could be successfully done, just above the dots and numbers line at the bottom. This gave the bottle bottom a rise of about 6mm from the main design. I then cut a circle of 3mm thick clear glass at a diameter 6mm larger than the cut bottle bottom, which I edged in copper-foil. The plan here was to allow comfortable room fro the copper-foil and soldering, and also to leave a thin clear halo of glass around the bottle for effect. bottle centreThe bottle edge was flatted with diamond pads, and then bonded to the clear circle of glass using a UV curing glass glue. Care was taken to make the glue bond complete all around the circle as I didn’t want liquids seeping in there during cleaning later on. This completed the centre piece, so next up was to decide what to do with it, so I pulled out all the sheets of coloured glass I had and held them together to see what complimented the brown glass of the bottle bottom. A textured streaky yellow glass looked good, and could be complimented with a copper patina when finished.

I drew around the circle centrepiece, and then measured off a square design off it. The squares were cut, ground and foiled, before being assembled together for soldering on a square edged board. I tacked the pieces together, and then tinned the edges, before completing the main solder joints around the circle and the four joints, which was easier than I had expected.copperfoil hanger 3d Next up I made a loop out of copper wire, tinned it and then bent it to suit the top corner as I wanted it to hand diagonally. When this was strong and all the soldering was tidied up, I cleaned the glass with a little bicarbonate of soda, and then added the copper patina to the solder. I added a suction hanger to the loop, and tried it out in the window. The end result is very pleasing in look, and I can see further improvement in my finishing, which is quite satisfying.


Etched glass

A long bank holiday weekend gives some much needed time to make a couple of things from the growing stockpile of bottles in the yard.

One unusual bottle I’d got was a tall etched glass bottle, about 50mm in circumference with quite thick glass. I tried to cut it high, to leave a very tall etched vase, but during the separating process, it cracked vertically in the same stressed way the blue glass bottle did. I halted progress, and re-cut it comfortably below the crack, but the same thing happened again…and again…and a fourth time, leaving nothing of the body left to work with! Just one of those types of bottles that just doen’t play ball.

etched and greenUnderterred, I salvaged the neck, and with some careful edging, got the base to a good enough standard to form a base. I did the old placing one bottle on top of the other trick, to visualise the nicest option, and decided a green cider bottle base would be the right size and look pretty good on the neck. This was a straight forward bottle to do, and I bonded the prepared base to the etched neck with the daylight activated UV glue. The mix of green and acid-etched glass looks quite good together, so that’s another combination to look out for to do future combinations.

As I had plenty of time, I cut a green mini-wine bottle I brought home from last night’s quiz , and bonded that to a J.P.Chenet min-wine bottle neck, which is a nice design I’ve made a number of already. 

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.

Bottle neck profiles

There’s obviously a lot of different styles of bottles, and also bottles can vary dramatically in quality and ease of use when it comes to this hobby. Learning the characteristics of the sort of bottles you can easily obtain locally comes from practise, and you can soon get a feel for a number of brands whose bottles just kind of work for you. One such bottle that has been working a treat for me is a J.P.Chenet small wine bottle (18oz) which can be seen in this link here :

It has an elegant thin neck, with a wide embossed shoulder, which makes for a great base for an elevated tealight holder, say for a table centrepiece or a mantlepiece. The size is nice, and rather fortunately , as it’s just a bit much for a normal wine glass, you tend to get the bottle presented to you from the bar to finish pouring , and to then take home with you! At first I had written the bottle off, as it has a strange side indentation, as well as a cut-in groove on the base, but in the end , the neck interested me most so I tried one. The bottle rotated fine on the Ephrems cutter, and the score ran cleanly. One thing I noticed was that the glass was much thicker on the back of the bottle than it was at the front where the emboss was – obviously a result of the embossing procedure, but it caused no difficulty. 

J P Chenet necks

The neck lends itself well to using another single portion wine bottle body (centre) or a beer bottle sized body (left & right)  to be added, as in the photo to the left. An elegant end result, and I’ve now made four of these so far, with only one ‘failure’ through bad technique on my part. A good solid bottle to work with.