Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Use For Empty Wine Bottles (....and old college textbooks!)

I am happy to report that I've finally discovered a use for all the empty wine bottles Kellie and I generate.  It all began when I started using Pinterest.  Pinterest is a website I first learned of several months ago from Kristin while reading Iowa Girl Eats, one of the blogs I follow.  Essentially Pinterest lets you "pin" items that interest you to various "bulletin boards," organizing your interests by categories you define.  I was intrigued by the site but never took the time to browse it's many boards. Two weeks ago I received an invite to the site from a colleague (another Kristin....with another blog I follow....The Lien Family.)  With link in hand, or rather "in email," I quickly created an account.

After ten short minutes on the site I was hooked.  Although I hadn't repinned anything, I did have fifteen tabs tuned in....all with great new design, recipe or organization ideas.  One of my favorites is summed up in the picture below:

Pretty cool....ehhhh???      EHHHH???     Me thinks...yes...but I needed to figure out how to safely remove the bottom of a wine bottle.  This proved to be an easy feat because most Pinterest items are linked to an external website or blog.  Within a few minutes I was well versed on how to make these Wine-Bottle-Candle-Covers.

First things first...I needed an empty wine bottle.  That was both easily said...and easily done; I already had one.  Second....I needed a phone book.  I don't own a phone book, but I do own several bookshelves full of college textbooks that I haven't even looked at for 2 years. PROBLEM SOLVED...

The one thing I needed that I didn't have was a glass cutter. Luckily we have a Menards less than a mile away from our house.  Twenty minutes and $3 later I had one!

Glass cutters work by creating a score in the surface of glass, which then acts as a fracture point when the glass experiences stress.  Theoretically, if pressure is applied properly, any break should follow this "score" line.  The purpose of the phone book, or textbook in my case, is to create a straight and even score around the bottom of the wine bottle.  Placing the glass cutter between the pages of the textbook accomplishes this by creating a constant distance between the cutter and the floor.

Next I knelt on the textbook with all my weight, both knees firmly positioned on either side of the glass cutter, to minimize movement.  Then I positioned a wine bottle against the glass cutter, the textbook and the floor and rotated the wine bottle until I had created a score line all the way around the bottle.

This picture, while somewhat fuzzy (sorry), shows the score line.  Minimal, constant pressure against the glass cutter was required as I rotated the bottle.

The next step is to "break" the glass.  The safest way to do this is to bring a pot of water to a boil and throw some ice cubes in the bowl of cold water.  Transferring the scored wine bottle between the two water baths causes the glass to expand and contract, hopefully creating a clean break on the score line we just made.

Just to be on the safe side I decided to wear some latex cleaning gloves when "breaking" the glass.  You can't see me in this picture...but if you could, I'd also be wearing sunglasses. Safety my Grandma always told me! One can never be too careful.

Okay...into the boiling water.....

I let the bottle sit in the boiling water for 5 to 10 seconds.  I could hear glass cracking for the first 2 or 3.

Then I dropped the bottle immediately into the cold water, again for 5 to 10 seconds.  Again, I could hear cracking for the first 2 or 3.

Next back into the hot water.....and.......

....possibly a little knock on the bottom or side of the pan (or seems to depend...bottle by by case) and the bottom of the wine bottle fell right off.

The bottom piece broke (not a huge deal) and a hairline fracture shot up the side of the wine bottle (kind of a problem) on my first try.  After discarding my first attempt in the trash I decided to take the pot of boiling water off the burner before dunking the wine bottles into it.


The only issue with this type of break is that the newly formed edges can be pretty sharp.  A quick trip to the in-laws for their Dremel tool had my sharp edges tamed in no time.  I used a grinding attachment to sand off the sharp edges.

I would say this tool is absolutely necessary for this project.  I don't think regular sand paper would leave a safe edge.  If you don't have one make sure to buy, borrow or rent.  Leaving the edges unsanded can not only be dangerous, but it can also make it easier for the bottles to break in the future.

See...that looks much better.  I also added three small grooves (using the Dremel tool) to allow air flow into the bottom of each wine bottle.  Without this any candle placed inside the bottle would use up all the available oxygen and burn out in a minute or so.

NOTE: Don't be stupid...sanding glass = the potential for tiny shards of glass to be flying through the air.  I wore gloves and safety glasses while doing this.  In fact, I even did it outside with the cover from a clear Rubbermaid bin between myself and the project to ensure I wouldn't get any glass particles on me or in my eyes.  Remember my Grandma?? Yea....SAFETY FIRST!

At this point I was done.  I repeated the process until I had 5 Wine-Bottle-Candle-Covers.  The only thing left to do was decide how to use them.

So, I tried this.  It looks okay, for now at least.  I decided I'll go with it until I find something I like a lot better, which will probably involve shopping for something different.

That said and fast forward 3 days since completing this project......yesterday I went to Stillwater, MN with Kellie, her mom and her sister.  For now I'll just say that I found this antique silver tray there (I'm planning a future post with more details re: the trip).  Yea...this could work, too.

Adding a different candle/votive holder mixes things up a little.

This is another idea I thought of...and I LIKE it!


For some reason I feel like this post requires a moral. Okay...let's use this: With just a little thought and some searching (on Pinterest in this case) things can be easily reused and/or re-purposed.

I think I like this one better: "Be Sustainable - It can be fun!"

It is currently really nice outside: 71 degrees and not a cloud in the sky...on October 2.  I am going to head out and enjoy it.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice! I especially like the last photo. The bottles would also look nice on a slice of wood with bark on the edges or on tile.

    You can use the back end of the glass cutter to tap the score so the glass will fracture along the line. Your idea of the water seemed to work well too. Glad you practiced safety; your g'ma taught you well!