Weekend Project: A Candelabra Made From Old Bottles


Robyn Griggs Lawrence thumbnailOne of the many things I loved about working with art director Susan Wasinger at Natural Home was her knack for finding craft projects that had long ago lost their luster—and giving them a contemporary spin.

 Remember bottle-cutting? Back in the ‘70s everyone was using those as-seen-on-TV kits to make drinking glasses and vases. Susan took a look at all the beautiful shapes, sizes and colors that bottled mineral water comes in these days and found a way to revive that dying art. Here, she uses capped mineral water bottles to make a lovely candelabra. And if this iteration seems a little too complicated for a July weekend, consider making her bottled-light centerpiece. It’s perfect for patio dining.

 use this one 

Blue mineral water bottles—too pretty to recycle—make a lovely candelabra. Photo by Susan Wasinger 

 bottle candelabra 1 

1. Use a hose clamp as a guide to score a clean bottle with a glass cutter. Go over the line only once.

bottle candelabra 2 

2. Heat the scored line thoroughly with a candle flame.

bottle candelabra 3 

3. While still warm, run an ice cube over the scored line. With a little pressure, the bottle will break easily along the line.

bottle candelabra 4 

4. Use wet emery paper to smooth the edge of the bottle.

bottle candelabra 5 

5. Use a hole cutter to drill three holes in a scrap of half-inch birch plywood about 2 feet by 4 inches. The holes must be at least 11/2 inches for the bottlenecks to fit through. Save the “holes” for use as part of the finial at the bottom.

bottle candelabra 6 

6. Drill the plywood ends for the suspension cable. We used (3/32 inch) steel cable and ferrules from the hardware store. Be sure to get soft aluminum ferrules that require only a hammer to crimp the cable together.

step 7 

7. Send the wick down through a hole poked in the cap, then through the plywood circle, and the bead. Bring it back up through the plywood circle, then the cap. Tie the wick tightly against the cap and leave one end of wick about 8 inches long. Send the long end of the wick up through the pipe, into the bottle’s neck, and out the top. Use a pea-sized piece of wax to stopper the hole on the inside of the cap. Screw the cap on.

8. Melt approximately 8 ounces of wax. Hold the wick straight up as you pour the wax into the bottles. To eliminate leaks, add 1/4 inch of wax first, then wait for it to set before filling the bottle the rest of the way.

work this time 

Bottled Spirits: A Variation

Drill a large hole in a 6-inch square plywood scrap. Two strips of 1- by 2-inch trim become feet for the wooden platform. Cut the bottom inch off a clean wine bottle, then stuff a short, 25-bulb string of holiday lights inside. The plug end is sent out the bottom through the hole in the platform. A spare drawer knob tops it all off.