I was anxious to make use of the large ceramic kiln that I bought on Craig’s List, so I searched YouTube to find proper methods for melting glass bottles to make cheese plates, spoon rests, and other recycling projects.  I’ve seen it done many times but had never done it myself, and I just needed a firing schedule, which I created and listed below.

The GOOD

  1. Before positioning the bottles, I paint the shelf or molds with about 3-5 coats of kiln wash on the molds to prevent sticking.  I’ll then allow the shelf or molds to dry overnight.
  2. Next I lay the bottles on their sides in on the shelf, or I position them in specially designed bottle molds.  I don’t really have trouble with the bottles rolling as long as I’m careful about not disrupting the kiln once they’re in position.  Also, make sure the bottles are surrounded with plenty of space so they can flatten and spread without touching or melting off the side of the shelf.
  3. I start my kiln at HIGH and let it go up to 1300 degrees.  This usually takes about an hour.
  4. I then hold the temperature at 1300 for about 20 minutes.  At this point, the bottles should be flat.  I generally sneak a quick peek in the kiln at this time to make sure they look ok.
  5. Then I turn the kiln off and allow the bottles to come down to temperature overnight.

The BAD and the UGLY

Glass is pretty sensitive stuff, and if you don’t fire it properly, the results can be pretty disastrous, which brings me back to YouTube.  The videos I found showed some pretty insane methods for melting bottles. Granted, I think their objectives were based more on curiosity (and perhaps boredom) rather than creating something usable.  Regardless, I give them an A for ingenuity, and a D for safety sense.

Without further adieu, here are five YouTube demonstrations showing some less sensible ways to melt glass bottles:

1) In a campfire

2) With an oil burner

3) On a BBQ grill

4) With a propane torch and vacuum pump

5) In the toaster oven

6) In the microwave

As entertaining as they might be, I wouldn’t recommend trying any of these at home.

Finishing Ideas

Melting bottles is actually a very simple process, and the results have been great.  You can give as a gift with cheese and a nice cheese knife, and a nice 750 ml bottle of beer or a bottle of wine.  They also work well as individual sushi plates, and the smaller 12 oz bottles make great spoon rests.

The flattened bottles look just as good plain and without decoration, but here are some decorative ideas if you want to jazz it them up a bit:

  • Melting the bottles with the painted labels – the painted images and print on the bottles remain intact and look great when melted.  They’re nostalgic and decorative.  Just make sure they don’t roll or move during the fusing process so that your image remains centered on the final piece.
  • Glass Paints – Donna Dewberry has a great line of glass paints that can be purchased at most craft stores.  Paint them onto already melted bottles, and then place them on a baking sheet in the oven and allow to bake according to the paint instructions.  This creates a durable painted decoration that’s also food safe.
  • Etching – Etch-all is an acid cream or liquid that can be painted onto glass and left for a certain period of time (e.g. 20 minutes).  When removed, the acid leaves an etched decoration on the glass.  Use tape or fingernail polish to create a resist, or to outline the area or design that you want to etch, and then apply the etching solution within that frame.  Leave it on per the etch-all, then remove the tape or resist. Fingernail polish will come off with warm water when you remove the cream.

And there you have it.  Wrap the bottle handle with some raffia or nice ribbon, and you have a unique, inexpensive homemade gift!

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