Rescue jobs

Broken mini lampshades

Broken Shades

Occasionally, we get unusual requests from customers at work about cutting or salvaging glass items from their homes and vehicles. One such request lately was for a customer who had borrowed a lamp from somebody, but had managed to break the cylindrical glass lampshades that slotted onto the lamp. Without seeing them, I told him to bring them in and at least I could take a look.

When they arrived, they were actually really small in size, approximately 30mm in diameter, and a heat formed glass cylinder with a moulded inner base tube that slotted onto a mount. This one was going to be tricky. It was certainly going to be too small for all but one of the bottle cutters I have, but I decided to give it a go with the G2 bottle cutter.

fixedb

Fixed Shades

The G2 cutter is the most flexible cutter I have in terms of the sheer range of size it can cope with. I set it up, and felt confident it would rotate and give a clean, even cut on the shades. It did work in terms of size, but I could tell the score wasn’t too successful just by the feel of it. This is most likely for a combinations of two things. Firstly, the outer surface of the glass shades were sandblasted, which makes it a textured surface. Usually this needs a deeper and harder cut. Secondly, as the glass is a single formed piece with an internal cylinder, I’m guessing that the shades become slightly heat strengthened by the forming process, making it a tougher glass to cut, though not unbreakable clearly. The usual hot and cold method didn’t achieve anything at all in terms of getting the score to run. Time for plan B.

There was no other alternative to tap, run of snap it, so I tried an electric water-cooled tile cutter. As the glass was quite thin (<3mm), the tile cuter was way too brutal to cut these shades. All it achieved was giving me a good soaking. Time for Plan C.

The last remaining chance was to turn to my glass grinder that I use for stained glass making. This would be tricky and time consuming to get the very jagged edges down to being as close to a flat cylinder edge as original, but I gave it a go.

The Lamp

The Lamp

The glass ground well, and using the grid lines on the grinder top, I got the three cylinders down to as flat an edge as I visibly could, which is not easy when you consider it’s a cylinder and you are using a round rotating grinder head. They were so erratically broken, I cut them to just below their lowest breaks, leaving three distinctly different height cylinders. This was as good as I could do, without spending all night grinding. I figured it would look good as the lamp stalks were three different heights anyway, and I could place them to suit the best look. I finished the tops of with the hand diamond pads, to give them as good an flat and arrissed edge as I possible could. The internal edges were too small to do anything with, but I was satisfied they were as safe as I could get them with the grinder.

End result

End result

All in all, I’m quite satisfied in how it went, as the job was really just a ‘make best or bin’ gamble with what had become a damaged and unsafe lamp. It looks pretty good in the end, and was a fun little challenge to do. I don’t mind tackling something like this, as you’ve nothing to loose, and it’s good experience with bottle cutting skills on objects other than bottles. A worthwhile and interesting task.

 

Little bits of salvage

I’ve not been doing a great deal of bottles in the last few weeks, with the exception of today where I knocked up a couple of wine bottle hangers and cleared out a lot of bottles I wasn’t getting round to finding a use for. I’ve been busy again on another term on a local creative glass course, doing copper foil and lead came designs. I still like doing both hobbies a great deal, and it’s nice to think of more ways to combine the two skill sets in some way.

bottlecupI’d just finished a Rennie Mackintosh style design from scratch, as a gift for my mother, which I’d made to fit a candle mount I’d bought from the Creative Glass Guild in Bristol . I used black backed copper foil, and finished it in black patina to match the frame, and was very satisfied with the overall effect. Though the flat candle plate was plenty wide, I wanted to have a more ‘containing’ method of holding the tea-light behind the glass panel, to make sure it didn’t stray too close to the panel.  I used a scuffed beer bottle that I had picked up from the street, and cut the bottom off about 5mm higher than a tea-light. A neat edge arriss, and a double sided pad was all that was needed to complete the task, making a more functional option for the stand. A nice, neat little use of a scruffy bottle that was pretty much good for nothing else. I guess these could be useful little tea-light pots for other uses, like on dining tables, as they help prevent them being knocked over and contain any stray hot wax. They can be bought commercially in various glass, pot and resin materials, but it’s nice to upcycle and make something from nothing yourself from an abundance of wasted beer bottles.

Salvage something

I was quite pleased to find an unusual demi-john style bottle abandoned on a street corner the other week, which is something demiI’ve been wanting to try for a while, to see how well the bottle cutters can cope with a much bigger diameter bottle. This two litre cider bottle was approximately 130mm in diameter, and was in perfect condition despite being a street find, probably because it’s got it’s own ring handle. I intended to cut the bottle low down, and hopefully create a tall, bottomless bottle to use as a hurricane shroud on a routed wooden base.

First step was to clean off the large label, which too quite a while due to a strong glue. When clean, the bottle felt the most comfortable on the Ephrem’s bottle cutter, where it sat nicely using my home-made jog as the stop. It rotated well, but the cut did stutter a bit, probably due to the wheel reaching the end of it’s useful life. I used a manual glass cutter to join the cut line misses, and hoped for the best in the water breaking process. Sadly the cut ran a touch, so I repeated the cut an inch or so up on the Ephrem’s after an light oiling of the wheel. A second and third attempt also failed, so I gave a fourth and final chance to the G2 bottle cutter. The cut was clean, light and neat and looked promising, but sadly split vertically like a seam beyond a point of saving the top. Some you win, some you lose, even after several hundred bottles of experience.

fingerbowlI looked at the bottle bottom from the first cut, and though it had run over the original scoreline, it was perfectly save-able given enough elbow grease on the diamond pads. I set about doing that, this time using a full four pad range of grades, taking about thirty minutes to get a good standard of finish. It made a decent sized bowl for any number of uses. Though I was really looking forward to using the top half of the bottle, it’s still worthwhile to make something from nothing with any bottle you salvage from an inevitable broken mess on the street.

Tea-light mounts

Just a short post showing a couple of tea-light bottle parts I’ve started from street salvaged bottles. The tea-light holder is to the right is the bottom of a Becks green beer bottle. Nothing too remarkable or different to various tea light holders you can buy cheaply from the shops, but just made for the sake of making something from a discarded bottle that was scuffed and tatty. I’m tempted to try and mix this in to a copper-foil project somehow – maybe a floating lilypad look or something. I need to find more time to practise that craft also.

Tealight partsFrom a salvaged mini-wine bottle I picked up from the waste ground on a demolished factory , I top and tailed the green bottle to try and make a cylinder like I did with the full size wine bottles. It cut well, is thick enough not to cause any weakness worries, and fits over a tea-light snugly. I’m intending routing a circular groove into a nice piece of wood when I find one, and making a miniature hurricane of some description , be it free-standing or forming a  table centre. No doubt I’ll post a photo when I get something done. These are just clearing some of the sitting stockpile of bottles I’ve built up. It’s attracting a snail or two in the yard!

Update:   today I found the little log section, and routered a circular channel out of it at a comfortable size for the cylinder.  Log cylinder tealightThe bottle cylinder was slightly off-round, and fairly thin at the two seam points, so I made this the bottom to put the best edge to the top. The 4mm Dremel router bit was more than wide enough to give a holding circle groove that coped with the slightly off-circle shape. The groove was dyed with an english oak colour, and left to dry. The inner circle is a perfect size for a tea-light, and the open top let’s it burn freely without any need for any holes to create an air draw.

Jig extension for cutter

The Ephrem’s cutter is a great piece of kit. By far the best of the two types I’ve used so far (the Ephrem’s and the Armour). Using it’s adjustable end plate and rear wheel positions, you can cut a good range of bottle sizes and achieve various positions of cuts. One project I’m aiming to try out is a hanging bottle tealight lamp, suitable for use in a garden or yard. For those, the bottom of a bottle is cut off, finished, and then the bottle is slid over a coiled wire hanger through the neck, to create a wind sheltering, attractive candle surround, hopefully with some nice bottle colours.

The only way I’d been able to work this cutting length on the Ephrem’s was to remove the end stop, and place the cutter on the kitchen worktop up near to the solid flat face of the fridge-freezer, and use that as an end-stop for the neck end. It was awkward to find the true perpendicular from the fridge for the best cut, and my rolling technique was hampered on one side by the fridge. It also wasn’t going to be the smartest move to risk marking the fridge coating and get a deserved ear-bashing!

Feeling surprisingly resourceful and useful today, I decided to set myself a little ‘scrap-yard challenge’ , to quickly solve this and knock a few of these bottle hangers out in about an hour using just the rough old hand tools and bits of scrap products in the shed. I had the design in mind – a longer base with two firm rails down each side to hold the cutter, which would retain the cutter and allow it to move up and down as required up against a permanent end stop. The Ephrem’s is not wide, so I didn’t need a wide plank for a base – a floorboard offcut  I had was just about right (about 5mm wider would have been ultra-neat), and I cut it to suit a full size wine bottle length, and had plenty left to form the end-stop.

Homemade cutter jigA hardwood quadrant bead remnant from my front door installation last year was ideal to form the two side rails. I also had a couple of 4-holed right angle brackets , which I had put on top of the screw cabinet about 10 years ago thinking “I’ll use them one day” and here that day was! I formed the 90 degree end stop using these brackets, and some salvaged short screws from the old screw tub. The side rails were tacked onto the plank, and that was the job complete – rough as you like – in only about twenty minutes.The only ‘new’ product was half a dozen tacks to nail the side rails on. Unfortunately nails don’t salvage straight, unlike removed screws!

bottomless bottlesThen came the moment of truth – trying it out. The brackets kept the end-stop true and strong, and the rails do their job though the Ephrem’s has non-slip rubber feet (which is the only thing I yet need to find for the jig bottom) so it doesn’t move about much anyway. Three full size wine bottles of different designs were attempted, and gave three good results, which cut cleanly and true. These will be edge-finished tomorrow ready to be used with some wire hangers as garden tealight lamps.

All in all a very cheap and quick little project, which I know will prove to be very useful indeed, and give results that will be popular with friends and family who have the garden space to have BBQs and summer evening outdoor entertaining. It’s almost a complete cycle, as it’s some of those evenings that are providing the empty bottles to make these bottomless bottles.

Street salvage

I’ve been finding beer bottles particularly useful and good to work with so far, but being teatotal for a few years now, sourcing them was always going to be slightly more problematic than it could have been a while back. People put a few out in their green recycling boxes, but as it’s a shared system with paper round here, it’s not a good idea to be poking about in other peoples bins – leave that to the ID thieves!  A few donations have come in , but a chance discovery when walking to work made the penny drop on a potentially very good source that I hadn’t even thought of – the streets, gutters and flora around them.

There’s plenty of people who just throw their bottles down on the street, toss them into bushes, or leave them half-drunk on someones gatepost. I’ve found well over a dozen already just on the ten minute walk to and from work in just a few weeks. It’s surprising how resilient the bottles are to being tossed down and kicked about on tarmac, with only the odd tiny little scuff found on a few. Most have cleaned up beautifully, though there has been the odd slug to deal with inside a couple of them!

Reusing bottles that will just end up smashed in a bottle bank has been fun so far, but I must admit I really like the idea of taking an abandoned bottle that some careless drinker has discarded on the street, and still managing to make it into something very presentable. That’s got to be an ultimate form of recycling – saving discarded glass bottles from being smashed and stood on, run over by car tyres, thrown through someones window or just being old fashioned litter, and giving them a new use. A win-win situation for everyone and the environment. Any parts that are not reused or I break are returned to recycling banks, so all street salvage I collect avoids landfill, which might not always be the case if street cleaners pick them up. I’m getting quite eagle-eyed in spotting the glint of a green bottle in bushes even when it’s dark.

Just for personal interest, I’m running a tally of the number of bottles that have been rescued and reused from the streets as litter at the bottom of the left sidebar on this blog.