Wine is a very hot commodity right now, both drinking and for crafting. New wineries are popping up almost weekly and with that – lots of bottles, corks and other grape themed items. Lights from wine bottles are one of my favorite things to make. I’ve seen them in shops and on line for sale, but I thought I could make them prettier and cheaper. There are as many design possibilities as there are wine bottle shapes and colors. This is what you will need;
bottle of choice, decorations of choice, ceramic drill bits and drill, small lights and HOT glue. The low temp glue you get at the craft store will not hold glass on glass, so you need the HOT kind that smokes when it comes out of the gun. I purchase mine at the hardware store. (Experience point: Be very careful this glue will blister your skin on contact and can create serious burns if you are careless)
Drilling bottles will take some patience and generally two people. Even with practice,
HOUSEMATE and I have a successful drilling rate of about 60%. You must start with a small bit, go slow and keep the bottle wet. Once you get a small hole through the bottle, graduate to the next size bit and repeat the process until you have a hole large enough to insert lights. (Experience Point: Tiny battery powered lights are a little more expensive, but they are much smaller, thus a smaller hole is required and less chance of breakage and less time drilling. The battery power also gives you the option of placing the light anywhere you wish and is not dictated by a plug.)
I roll a towel from both ends so it makes a cradle for the bottle. HOUSEMATE drills and I drop water onto the drill site using a straw and water. Make sure you are drilling above the bottom of the bottle, some bottles have concave bottoms and you will want to be sure your hole is above the highest point. Make sure you drill a hole large enough for the light and wire to fit through easily. (experience point: even though the first light fits in through the hole, the second requires a larger space for the extra wire)
Once you have a hole the size you need, you can clean the bottle, and remove any unwanted labels. (Experience point: drill the bottles first, removing labels takes some time and if you break the bottle during the drilling process, you’ve not wasted your time, and you will have to clean the bottle again after the drilling.) To remove the labels, soak the whole bottle in water, scrape labels once they are softened and then clean with an adhesive remover gel. Wash the bottles again in soapy water to make sure all the gel is off and make sure you clean the dust from drilling from the inside of the bottle. I use an old wire from a large silk flower stem, wrap some paper towel around the end making a kind of cleaning wand. Tape the paper towel in place and you can insert it into the neck of the bottle and it helps clean and dry the inside of the bottle. You want to make sure your bottle is completely dry inside before you insert the lights.
Turn your bottle upside down to insert the lights, this will keep them from bunching up at the bottom. (Experience point: make sure you check your lights prior to inserting them to make sure they work so you won’t have to take them out. They are harder to get out than they are to get in) Once all the lights are inside, turn the bottle over. You will want to adjust the placement of the lights. Again, I use an old wire from a large silk flower stem with a slight crook and the end to insert into the bottle neck and pull the lights up. you can help your lights stay in place by attaching one to the lip of the bottle with a very small amount of glue.
Now for the fun part – Decorating your bottle. Dust off your imagination and decide how you want to decorate. I chose some flat marbles available at the craft store. I found several bags on sale in a variety of colors. HOUSEMATE suggests washing the marbles first to make sure they are free of any substance from the factory and allowing for better adhesion to the bottle. For this particular green bottle, I chose some greenish yellow gems. Decide where you want the point of your decoration to be and place a drop of hot glue there. press the marble in place and hold for a few seconds until the glue starts to harden. Then, one by one, place the marbles onto the bottle. I like the grape cluster theme for my bottles, but you can decorate any way you like. Glue in the base layer first and then start adding additional layers as your creative inner self dictates. Hot glue is going to string, don’t worry about it, once finished and the glue is cool, you can pull them off as well as remove any unwanted glue runs.
When your gems are placed to your satisfaction, add some leaves (I found a whole vine at a yard sale for $1) You can complete the décor any way you like. I use raffia to wrap the bottle neck and sometimes the bottom of the bottle. You can add personalized labels created on your computer or by hand. I’ve given many of these to friends and they seem to like that I personalize them further by etching their initial into the bottle.
I use a die cut machine and plain old contact paper to make stencils to etch initials. You can get glass etching gel at the craft store. Follow the manufacturer’s direction for etching.
For clear glass bottles, I like to etch the entire bottle, making it appear to be frosted. you can use adhesive pieces to block the etching and make designs or patterns on the bottle. At the top of the page, notice the frosted bottle. there is a design in the front that allows candle light to show through and at the top and bottom I used a piece of lace to make a lace pattern around the top and bottom of the bottle.
Broken Bottles can still be made into something beautiful if the break is not too bad. I take a bottle cutter that I got at the craft store and cut off the bottom of the bottle above the break. Sand down the edge, decorate as you like and sit the bottle over a votive candle. This makes a lovely light for your dinner table. (Experience point: the bottle does get hot if left over a burning candle for too long – use caution when removing the bottle from the candle)
Other Ideas – How beautiful would it be to use full bottles of wine at a wedding table, remove the label, create a personalized one honoring the bride and groom’s special day and then decorate it according to their wedding theme colors. In the picture at the top of this page, that is what I did with the black and white bottle and the red one.
Enjoy your new wine bottle light, and check out the rest of the site for other wine craft ideas. Send me some pictures of your own creations!