Recycled glass lanterns made from re-purposed bottles
These recycled glass lanterns are made from re-purposed bottles. You can use jam jars, wine bottles, beer bottles and more to create a variety of beautiful lanterns and candle holders.
For the Challenge DIY Porcelaine & Co with Edding and Oui are makers, I had a chance to test out Edding’s porcelaine brush pens. This project not only recycles old glass bottles into useful objects, but also gives you a chance to put your artistic talents to good use, as since these pens also work on glass, you can decorate the lanterns with any design you want!
What you need :
- Glass bottles or jars in different shapes and sizes. Collect as many as you can, as some of them will not cut quite straight.
- Edding’s porcelaine brush pens
- Glass cutter
- Chain (must be thin enough to fit through the neck of your bottle but sturdy enough to hold up the lantern)
- Ring (you can use an old keyring, or any other ring that does NOT fit through the neck of your bottle)
- Wire cutters and pliers
- Night light candles to put in your finished recycled glass lanterns
The most difficult part of this project is cutting the glass. There are several different methods that you can use to do this. I chose to use a simple glass cutter as this is a cheap and easily accessible tool. However, there are also tools you can buy especially for cutting bottles, although these are more expensive. You could also look at this method, which involves tying string around the bottle and setting it on fire!
Step 1 : Clean your glass
The first thing you need to do is clean your glass bottles or jam jars. Usually soaking for a few minutes will help get off any labels, but for very sticky labels you can also scrape them off with a sharp knife or a scourer. Wipe away any sticky residue and make sure the bottles are nice and clean.
Step 2 : Cut your glass
This is the trickiest part. First you need to score the glass with the glass cutter. This is a very important step, as how you score the glass will define how neatly the bottle will cut. Ideally you want one deep score all the way around the bottle rather than several small ones. I did this by holding my glass cutter on a solid object of the same height as the place on the bottle I wanted to cut, and then rotated the bottle while pressing against the glass cutter. Add some oil to the glass surface before scoring it, to make a smoother groove.
Once you have your bottle scored, you want to alternately heat up and cool down the glass, which will eventually force the glass to break. You can do this by placing the bottle over a candle, and rubbing with an ice cube, but I found that this made a lot of mess, so I found it easier to use hot and cold water. Fill two big bowls of water, one boiling hot and one with ice cubes in, and place the bottle in one after the other. You can even do this step over the sink, pouring water from the cold tap and the kettle directly over the bottle. But watch out not to burn your fingers!
It’s quite difficult to get a perfectly straight cut, but possible if you persevere. Depending on what you are going to use the bottle for, this doesn’t necessarily matter that much, a slightly curved edge can add character to your recycled glass lanterns.
For one lantern, cut the bottom off a large bottle (i.e. a wine bottle), and the top off a smaller bottle (i.e. a beer bottle) that fits inside it.
Step 3 : Sand down the edges
Sand down the edges of the glass so they are safe to touch and no longer sharp. Start with sandpaper of a grit size of 80 to get rid of the rough edges, then use finer papers (for example 120 then 280) to polish the edges.
Step 4 : Paint the glass
I decorated my glass using Edding’s porcelaine brush pens. You can use any design you like. I made a geometric pattern using triangles in rainbow colours.
Once you have finished your design, leave to dry for 15 minutes, then cook at 160°C for 25 minutes to fix it.
Step 5 : Assemble lantern
To assemble your lantern you need a chain, a ring large enough that it does not fit through the neck of your bottle, and some wire.
Start by using the wire to make a cradle. Begin by making a spiral shape big enough to cover the base of the small bottle. Then continue working the wire in a spiral shape to contain the interior, smaller bottle. You will later fix the chain to this wire cradle and it is this that will hold the candle inside the lantern.
Once the cradle is complete, cut 3 pieces of chain. You will need 2 small ones of around 10cm, and one longer one of around 30cm. Attach these three pieces of chain to your ring.
Fix the two small pieces of chain to two sides of your wire cradle and pass the longer one through the neck of your bottle from the inside. The ring should catch on the neck of the bottle, holding it up. You can add another ring or a hook to the other end of the chain to hang your lantern.
Here is the finished lantern. To add a candle, simply lift up the larger bottle to access the interior.
As well as these recycled glass lanterns made of wine bottles, you can also make simple lanterns or candle holders with jam jars, or with the bottom of a cut bottle. Experiment with different shapes and sizes to see what you can create!
I hope you find this glass cutting technique useful for your own creative projects. For more bottle recycling techniques, you can also check out my article on how to recycle plastic bottles into boxes and nightlights.