Wind Chimes and Vases: Upcycle Your Glass Bottles

I learned a neat trick from Carla Emery's book The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 10th Edition (I highly recommend this book by the way, it is great!) regarding "up-cycling" glass bottles.  If you have beer or wine bottles, even soy sauce bottles, cocktail sauce bottles, steak sauce bottles, or glass olive oil bottles, save them and try this neat project.

Carla Emery says in her book:

Old-timers made narrow-necked wine bottles into preserve holders by tying strings soaked in kerosene around the shoulders.  Then they set the strings on fire.  That cracked the necks so they could be knocked off and the edges filed smooth.  The bottles were washed and sterilized, the hot jam poured in--and then the bottles were sealed with paraffin.  You let your jelly set up (jell) and cool clear down first, before you added the paraffin.

I thought this sounded neat, so I decided to try it.  What I did was:
  • Soaked the bottle in warm water to remove the labels.  For the most part, the labels slid off easily once soaked.  I had to use a razor to scrape the glue off a couple bottles though.
  • Wrap a piece of cotton butcher's string around my bottle on the spot where I wanted it to break at.  I wrapped it around at least twice on most bottles--but for thicker glass, I went three to four times--and tied it snugly.
  •  I then removed the string and soaked it in a flammable liquid--rather than using kerosene, however, I used nail polish remover (acetone).  I poured a little into a bowl and put my string in to soak.
  • Meanwhile, I filled the kitchen sink with cold water (you can also use the bathtub or a bucket).
  • Next, I removed the string from the bowl and squeezed it out a bit to prevent dripping.  I put it back on the bottle.  Then, I washed my hands to remove any flammable liquid.
  • Holding the bottle over the sink full of water, I lit the string on fire and began to slowly rotate the bottle around, allowing the fire to heat the bottle around the string evenly.
  • I let it burn for about a minute, and then dunked it quickly into the cold water in the sink.  CRACK!  The bottle cut in half.
I also found this video to be useful in this project:

Now, depending on what you are going to be using your cut glass bottle for, you will likely want to smooth the edges.  You can use coarse sandpaper, a stone or diamond file, or emery cloth.

I cut several bottles using this method, and then used the tops to make wind-chimes:

Using twine, beads, bells, and broken glass, I completed these wind-chimes in a day.  It was a fun and easy project, and they are really cute additions to your outdoor decor.  I used Loctite to glue the broken glass pieces onto the bottle tops, and I happened to have a box full of little bells leftover from my wedding, so I tied one on the bottom of each wind-chime.

With the bottle bottoms, I decided to make vases:

With the help of my seven-year-old son, I glued beads around the rims for some extra protection from the edge.  I also used glass etching cream to make designs on the vases, and glitter to add a little something extra.

Other uses for cut glass bottles:

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