For my next project I wanted to have a go at recycling wine bottles and had started reading and researching. I wanted to steer away from the slumping bottles trend and ideally was looking at how I could turn a bottle into something else. In my mind there were two avenues to explore –

  1. turning the bottles into bits / frit that could then be fused together / used in molds
  2. turning the bottles into glass sheets that could then be cut and made into other items

My conclusion was that the best way to do 1. would involve either taking hot bottles out of the kiln and plunging into cold water in the thermal shock method or smashing bottles with a hammer and putting through a frit piston (along with the dangers of all of the glass dust created). I felt that I was not ready to do either of these yet as my confidence in using a hot kiln or handling lots of glass dust was just not there yet. I also suspect things like using a frit piston will be easier being done outside in the warmer weather.

So, I turned my attention to 2.  That is, creating glass tiles / sheets from bottles that hopefully could then be cut into shapes etc to create other items. In pursuance of this I collected together some wine bottles. Soaked and cleaned them. Despite adding bicarbonate of soda,  vanish and white vinegar to the warm water, the labels either slid off easily ( bottles of Ned) or stubbornly stuck fast ( bombay spice). There definately must be a better way to remove labels! The internet claims anything from just soaking in water and soap   to using bicarbonate of soda, borax and white vinegar. Ones I haven’t yet tried are olive oil and nail polish remover.

Those bottles where I had been able to remove labels from were placed in the oven to dry. I had purchased a glass bottle cutter from Amazon a few days before. There were two dominant types online. One being a circular cutter type design, the other being a lie-down cutter. Both had good reviews and I just picked one to try. My aim was to follow this method or this alternative method (both on glasswithapast) for creating flat glass.

Unfortunately on my first attempt at using the bottle cutter, the glass bottle shattered when trying to score it and left me with a nasty gash on my arm.

I decided to take a rain check to up my safety protection for cutting bottles and have ordered a face shield, cut resistant gloves and sleeves in readiness for a future attempt once my arm has healed. It also made it very obvious to me that none of the tutorials / youtube videos I had seen demonstrating the glass bottle cutters had shown / used or even suggested the use of safety equipment. (I had been wearing my safety goggles, but had reserved my gloves until the actual breaking the score line part). The lesson learned for me is that bottle glass is not predictable and I’ll certainly be wearing hand and arm protection all through the process in future in addition to eye and face visors. This youtube video does show the use of gloves, goggles and mask and is a bit more comprehensive than some of the other instructions I have seen.

Time to test out kiln wash vs using papyros paper as ultimately this has got to be the most economical way forward. Mixed 1 part bullseye kilnwash with 5 parts water and mixed up in an old ice cream tub. I then used the largest of the goats hair brushes I’d bought from Amazon to apply 5 coats (up / down/ diagonal/ diagonal/ up) as per instructions and have left the shelf in the kitchen to dry (I believe this should take 24 hours). I’ve resisted drying it in the kiln as I’m still not too sure about whether you really should put damp things into a glass kiln for drying so I need to read a bit more about this first. I’m going for a natural dry on this occasion.

Update – this was used in my next firing and it was completely successful as no glass items stuck to yhe shelf. Interestingly though the pink glass (on the face and hands of the little figure had kiln wash stuck to them, but nothing else did). I did decide that because of this, I would not risk a second firing without scraping and re-kiln washing the shelf.

Having started with Bullseye glass, my daughter had a project for school to ‘recycle something that would normally be thrown away’ by making it into something else and I find myself diverted off towards ‘float glass’. Also, since reading in Brad Walker’s book that normal kitchen foil and drinks cans can be added as an inclusion in glass, I was just looking for an excuse to try it. So, the plan is to make a coaster with my daughter’s name in foil / drinks can cut out and sandwiched between the glass.

I visited the local glazier and asked if he had any scraps and he gave me some scrap glass for free on the promise of doughnuts :-). What a star. The scraps were 4mm thick.

So, several issues to solve/ note here:

– Fusing schedule for window glass needed (and two layers of this scrap glass will be 8mm). I have decided to use the default schedule for a float glass fuse on the KCR2 controller (preset 1) . Despite being for 4-6mm, it will be a starting point for testing.

– Violation of the 6mm rule so this glass is going to spread upon full fuse (as it will start at 8mm)

How to tell the tin side of the glass and then what to do with this fact. I used the water test and then marked the glass with a sharpie pen on the side I thought was the tin side. As the tin side can react with all sorts of things it seems right that the tin sides need to go on the outside and the other side will be on the inside of the coaster sandwiching the tin can / foil.

I decided to do a test piece, both to test if I had identified the tin side correctly, to test spread at 8mm thick, to test the effects

of both coke can and kitchen foil inclusions and to test the firing schedule. The piece I put in the kiln is as shown in the picture. I used my own glass cleaning mix to clean the glass (50% white vinegar / 50% rubbing alcohol). There are so many suggestions regarding different combinations for cleaning on the fused glass fanatics facebook group. This is the one I thought I’d try as someone had mentioned that this was suggested to them at a bullseye workshop.

 

 

 

The piece came out as shown. There were far more larger bubbles around the can foil, with smaller bubbles around the kitchen foil (a look I preferred). My fault that the hearts were slightly off centre. The glass had spread out as anticipated. Another thing of note is that the top layer was not flat but was raised around the hearts – thus this method could not be used where the surface needed to be flat as on a coaster. Food for thought. Pleased with how it came out and the water test for the tin side appears to have been successful.

 

As if by magic, I am struck down with flu and Brad Walker’s book arrives in the post. Today I will be tucked up under my duvet absorbing knowledge. 🙂 . My head is so full of questions, I’m hoping this book will answer many of them and give me a good grounding going forward.

Update … Was very impressed with the book as a starter book for beginners. It gave me the confidence that I was on the right track, knew the fundamentals and had the right tools and safety equipment to just go and experiment. I also made a few notes of interesting things and of other equipment that should go on my list.