Thursday, January 24, 2013

Recycled Wine Bottle Luminaries

Everyone I've given this gift to really likes it...and so do I!  It's a luminary made from a recycled wine bottle.

I saw one of these in person last spring at a flea market and it didn't look too hard to make.  So, I set about looking for a way to cut the bottom out of wine bottles.

I found the Ephrems Bottle Cutter on the Delphi Glass website (  It costs about $42, but is worth every penny, as it made cutting the bottles go very quickly.  The principle behind the cutter it this:  you score the bottle, then use heat and cold to crack the glass along the score line.  After the bottom comes off, you sand it to make it smooth.

Using the bottle cutter, I score the bottom of  the bottle.
I found that it worked best if I stood at the kitchen counter.  I was able to score several bottles cleanly by applying even pressure with my left hand and spinning the bottle with my right hand.  
Heat the score mark over a candle flame.  
Using a candle, I heated the bottle along the score mark, continuously spinning the bottle.  After a minute or two, I removed it from the flame and rubbed an ice cube against the score line.  With thicker bottles, I had to do this three or four times, but with most, just one repetition was enough for the bottle to separate along the score line.  You can hear the bottle 'crackle' as it heats up the second or third time, indicating that it is breaking along the score line.  
The bottom of the bottle separates without pulling on it.
The bottle cutting kit came with 220 grit sand paper, which I moistened and used first for a 'rough' sanding,  It also included a powdered sanding grit that I used to finish the edges.  I put some in an aluminum pie plate and sprinkled it with water, and just twirled the cut bottle around in the plate to make it smooth.  Once I got the hang of it, I could cut and sand about 6 bottles in 30 minutes.  

The next step was creating a way to suspend a candle inside the wine bottle.  I stumbled upon wire snowflake forms by the Bead Smith (  My husband suggested using key rings to attach the chains together.  My son made a run to Home Depot and picked up some chain that cost 50 cents a foot.  It was up to me to figure out how to put these things together to hang the candle inside the bottle.  

First, I drew a circle the size of my candle.  Then I marked the snowflake, so I would know where to bend the wire to create a cage for the candle.  

Once the 'arms' of the snowflake were marked, I used my chain nose pliers to bend them up. 

To attach the chain, I needed to make some loops on the cage.  Round nose pliers were the right tool for that job. Since there are six 'arms,' I made a loop on every other arm, for a total of three.  

Determining the length of chain was difficult, as each wine bottle was a different size, but generally, I used between 8 and 10 links for each of the three pieces. At the top, the chains were joined together with a key ring.

I added a length of chain to the key ring to go up inside the bottle, and then measured how much longer it would need to be to for the bottle to slide up the chain so you can light the candle.  Once that length was determined, I cut the chain and added another key ring as a hanging loop.  

I did decorate a few luminaries with a piece of 22 gauge wire, beads and a charm wrapped around the bottle neck to add a bit more color, but even without the extras, when the sun goes down, the candles give a nice warm glow to your porch, patio or back yard. 

Many thanks to my Bunco friends and my daughter for saving wine bottles for me...I have about a dozen more waiting to be turned into luminaries!  For about $10 in materials, I think they make a great gift!  

Keep crafting!!

No comments:

Post a Comment