How to: Upcycle wine bottles

Cool trick: Follow the instructions below to safely separate the top from the bottom of a wine bottle.

Cool trick: Follow the instructions below to safely separate the top from the bottom of a wine bottle.

At a recent dinner gathering with family, I found myself looking around at the cluster of empty beer and wine bottles thinking of an inventive way to reuse them.

I am all about recycling items and doing my part to help the environment, but I was inspired to do something different, and a do-it-yourself craft was the perfect place to start.

“It’s cheaper and it helps clean out old closets and garages of junk that might otherwise get thrown into the trash,” said Becky Hensley, co-founder of Share Denver.

Share Denver is a craft space located in the city and is dedicated to teaching classes all about crafts, meeting other passionate people and learning something new! Hensley said that they do often upcycle to create the crafts that they do.

During the past year, I found myself trying DIY crafts every chance I got in order to create a truly unique gift for loved ones, as well as myself. Saving money and upcycling old items is just a bonus to being able to use my creativity to make something!

Sarah Shipman, mother and craft enthusiast enjoys DIY crafts that she can do with her daughter to have fun, as well as making gifts for family and friends.

“As far as crafting, it’s a 50/50 split. At Christmas I like to give everyone something homemade. So honestly I start mid-summer,” said Shipman.

A few of Shipman’s DIY crafts include personalized glasses and cloth diapers and wipes for her daughter.

Once I had an initial idea of the material I wanted to use for my DIY craft, I began searching online blogs and DIY websites to find inspiration from crafts that used glass bottles.

The following DIY craft, found on Pinterest, was both extremely appealing and intimidating at the same time! It involved “cutting” a glass bottle to create a drinking glass or candle holder. Despite my slight hesitation, I was eager and willing to experiment because the end result was so appealingly eclectic! This craft is not nearly as difficult or dangerous as it may initially seem, so keep an open mind and most of all have fun!

You will need:

  • glass bottle(s)
  • yarn
  • nail-polish remover
  • lighter
  • ice water
  • sand paper

You may never buy another candle votive again!


Here’s how:

1.   First, make sure the bottle that you are using is rinsed out and dry after removing the paper labels.

2.    Using thick yarn, measure around the bottle where you would like to make the cut. Once you have the appropriate length of yarn for your desired cut, cut the yarn and tie it in a knot at the ends.

3.    Then, fill a small dish with nail polish remover, preferably one with acetone.

4.   While the yarn is soaking, fill a large sink with ice water. You may need to add ice more than once to ensure that it stays cold throughout the process.

5.   Next, carefully slip the yarn back over the top of the bottle to the original spot that it was measured. You want to make sure the yarn is snug, and most importantly as straight as possible to ensure a clean cut.

Now, comes the “cutting” part. I had never heard of such a method and I was not sure it would work, but the glass really does break in two, leaving a fairly clean cut.

6.    Once the saturated yarn is on the desired place of the bottle, carefully hold the bottle horizontally on one side, and use a lighter with the other hand to light the yarn on fire. (It may sound scary, but only the yarn will catch on fire!)

7.    Once the flame is going, grasp the neck of the bottle with your free hand and slowly spin the bottle, still in its horizontal position. Just be sure not to spin it too quickly, or the flame will go out before it has a chance to heat the bottle all the way through!

8.    After about thirty seconds, quickly but carefully submerge the bottle in the ice water. You should not have to use force to break the bottle in two. Instead, you will hear a crack when the bottle hits the ice water and that should successfully “cut” the bottle.

Once the bottle is cut, all you need to do is clean up the edges by sanding them down. Some cuts may need more sanding, especially if you plan to use the bottles as drinking glasses. Shipman said to keep in mind that even after the cut is made, there is still work to do. The sanding of the glass is an important step and can be tedious if the cut was not clean. Since I planned to use the wine bottles as candle holders, I sanded the edges a little but but didn’t mind the slightly rough look.

That’s it! You’ve completed a simple and unique craft that you can enjoy in the kitchen or as home décor.

As someone who has experimented with plenty of DIY crafts recently, I understand that the initial allure of DIY can wear off quickly once frustration sets in. I tried this craft with beer and wine bottles and although it did take some trial and error, my advice is to be patient and remember that even the flaws within the craft can add character!

Upcycling old or used items is also a great way to bring character and depth to a DIY craft. Not only is it environmentally friendly, especially in the case of this craft, but it allows you to be creative and make anything out of an ordinary object.

Eric Wilson, a graduate student, enjoys DIY crafts and has specifically done some with items that he no longer has a use for. He said he enjoys upcycling more for the history or meaning behind the original object than anything else. I have to agree that the idea of maintaining the integrity of the object in its original form, while still altering it, is one of the things that appealed to me about this wine bottle craft.

Here are some tips to keep in mind while doing this craft that will give you a better idea of what to expect and what not to do.

ü  If you’re using a wine bottle, you may need to braid several pieces of yarn together to create a thicker piece.

ü  Be sure to spin the bottle slowly once you have lit it on fire.

ü  Do not turn the bottle so long that the flame is nearly extinguished before it is submerged in the ice water.

ü  DO NOT apply too much pressure to force the bottle in two pieces once it is in the ice water. If it does not cut, simply dry off the bottle and repeat the process.

ü  As long as the bottle is not cracked, this process can be repeated on the same bottle if you do not have success the first time (I had to do it a few times on the wine bottle because of the thickness of the glass).

ü  Don’t get discouraged if you don’t have success the first time- it may take more than one time to achieve the result you want!

I take pride in the DIY crafts that I complete, even if they aren’t entirely successful, but whenever I look at the candle holders that I have made, I am reminded of the good times I shared with family and friends while enjoying a glass of wine.





Alisha Keppel

About Alisha Keppel

I am a Magazine Journalism major at MSU Denver. I am a Colorado native and enjoy all the outdoor amenities that the state has to offer-including running and hiking. I love cooking, baking and being creative! My passion for words and eye for design fuel my enthusiasm for a journalism career.

3 Responses to “How to: Upcycle wine bottles”

  1. On April 8, 2014 at 1:13 PM Melanie Moccia responded with... #

    I really like this idea, especially since I’m a wine drinker and always have empty bottles lying around. It inspired me to instead of throwing them out, to try something new with them.
    I like how there’s voice in your story, but I would suggest not using third person. It comes off more as an opinion piece to me.

  2. Ashley Hattle
    On April 8, 2014 at 1:16 PM Ashley Hattle responded with... #

    What a great idea and a really interesting topic to write about! It kept me interested and made me want to try it myself. I like this article a lot my only suggestion would be maybe a few more quotes.

  3. On April 8, 2014 at 1:27 PM Keve Brockington responded with... #

    I really like this article. I will absolutely try this concept on the basis of reading this . The only thing I suggest is being more direct. By this I mean speaking from more experience and more examples of this craft/art.

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