how to bottlebroke

some of you have asked how i do the bottlebroke lamps. well, here you are. i have heard of other ways to do this, and am beginning to try process variations to see what happens. if you’re interested, let me know- i’ll publish the results of me experiments. remember bottlebroke is copy left-you can use these ideas to make piles of money, as LONG as you let other people use your ideas too.

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the philosophy:

reduce, reuse, recycle. a streak of ’80s punk rock DIY, *with the sharp edges. a love of re-creation.

the principle:

glass is highly cooled liquid, and can be cut (theoretically) in any way you like. in my experience, i have only been able to encourage a break, not insist on it. the break lines are not always what i wanted-each bottle reacts differently. the cutter makes a cut, which is then treated to sudden temperature differences, forcing the glass to separate.

the stuff you need:

1. a bottle you want t break [indian wine and beer bottles tend to shatter, i prefer bubblies or liquor]

2. a candle

3. a glass cutter [i use the ones with a diamond(?) tip, not the oil filled ones. i get them for rs.140-160 from hardware stores]

4. sandpaper/emery paper [something mid range-not too many grains nor too little]

5. a tub of water

6. a clean piece of cloth

7. a comfortable, well lit place to work

the process:

1. score the bottle with the glass cutter. this can be done either by fixing the cutter to a board and pushing the bottle against it to get a (more or less) good circle. i prefer to freehand now, though. fixing it to a board also makes it hard to work with any bottle that is not round. make sure the score mark is connected all around. i prefer to do it twice to make a deepish cut.

2. heat the score mark over a candle flame, constantly turning the bottle. you may not want one part to become much hotter than another, as it may break even less evenly than you wanted. then again, your vision. comfortable seating is *critical for this part. i tend to spend about 10 minutes (depending on thickness of bottle) on each. don’t worry about the black carbon deposits. they can be cleaned off. do NOT over do this-the bottom may suddenly fall off and shatter.

3. after about 5-7 minutes, dip the bottle in the tub of water. you will hear the sizzling, and maybe a pop-very likely the bottom will fall off. if it doesn’t, you could reach into the water and try pull it off. if you cut yourself, don’t blame me. other ways of knowing that the bottle is ready for the water are 1) the entire bottle gets a little warm(er) and 2) you will hear small crackling sounds as you turn the bottle over the candle. if the water treatment+pulling does not separate the glass, dry it and heat it over the flame again. be *very careful when doing this, the bottom has often fallen off when i had to do it.

4. after the bottom has come off, rub the edges with sandpaper. this will make sure it doesn’t cut, while retaining its twisted edgy look. same treatment on the broken off bottom.

5. check very carefully for cracks that run through the bottle. if there are any, you do NOT want to put a light bulb in them, as heat could break the glass when you least expect. i prefer to use “pygmy” bulbs, also known as “fridge” bulbs. typically about 15W, they provide just about enough light to read. i’ve given away most of the bottoms as ash trays and stuff.

i would LOVE to see examples of bottles that you have broken, and put up pictures of them here. fool around with various ways of decorating/using the broken bottles. cheers!

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