Make Recycled-Glass Wind Chimes

You can use readily available glass bottles, a bottle cutter, and a kiln to make glass wind chimes.


| March/April 1980



062 glass wind chimes

TOP LEFT: Use your bottle cutter to  create glass rings from discarded bottles. BOTTOM LEFT: Glass rings melted into unique shapes. RIGHT: A completed set of recycled glass wind chimes.

PHOTOS: DENNIS SIZEMORE

Six years ago, when I was first trying to earn a living as a potter in New England, I ran up against an almost insurmountable problem: It seems many other talented people had also decided to make careers in ceramics, and the competition was fierce! Indeed, I spent more time selling my wares than making them . . . and barely broke even at that! I soon started to wonder if my secondhand electric kiln had been a good investment after all.

Then, almost accidentally, I "discovered" a product so unusual that I had absolutely no competition to contend with. The success story began when a friend offered me a bottle cutter for which she had no use. I almost turned her gift down, but luckily I recalled reading about a craftsperson who had—with the help of a kiln—made glass wind chimes from bottles . . . so I decided to experiment.

A Surprising Success

It took a while to figure out the process, but I was soon able to produce the melody-makers at an astonishingly rapid rate. Better still, my raw material could be found littering any roadside, beach, or picnic area . . . so I knew I'd be able to offer my goods at attractively low prices.

The shiny, translucent, colorful chimes were beautiful, too . . . and the clear, melodic ring they made as they struck each other was delightful! I didn't know, however, whether a market existed for the products. There was, of course, only one way to find out: I made 50 of the pretty breeze bells in various sizes ... priced them from $5.00 to $15 . . . and took them to a fair. There, I put up a display and a sign that read "Recycled Wind Chimes", and—though the festival was a two-day event—I was sold out by the end of the first day! It seems people were particularly attracted by the fact that my handiwork was made from what would otherwise have been unsightly trash.

Greatly encouraged, I made the rounds of local craft stores and discovered that the chimes could also sell very well in the wholesale market. Indeed, my product would just about market itself! 

At first, I had to work five days a week to bring in $100 in profits (it took me four days to make the chimes and one day to sell them). Now, however, I deal exclusively wholesale, and my markets are so well established that I don't have to sell at all ... I just fill orders. Therefore, I have to work only four days a week for my $100, which leaves plenty of time for other crafts, including my pottery.

c walker
6/26/2011 3:56:37 PM

Awesome!


mary_82
9/22/2009 1:28:06 PM

We make lanterns out of recycled wine bottles and want to make wind chimes out of the bottoms. I ordered a kiln and was told that I would need a lid lifers. The instructions from Judy says not to open the lid until the kiln is cooled. Any thoughts or suggestios?


kathy rossi
2/20/2009 10:13:11 AM

Karen, are you using a regular wet tile saw and does it work well? Also, how much should I pay for a elec. kiln and where would I look for one? I've wanted to do this for a long time and love the sound they make. Does anyone out there have any other suggestions for cutting the bottles? I know you can use a diamond blade as I have researched but that could be a lot more expensive. I am making these to sell and need to do as much as I can in little time or labor cutting the bottles. Any suggestions? Thanks. Kathy


karen_50
4/8/2007 8:17:26 PM

I cannot begin to tell you how happy I was to see this online. Years ago I saw the recycled wind chimes in Mother Earth and have longed to make some. As of yesterday, I am the proud owner of an electric kiln. Thus begins the excitement! With regard to cutting the bottles, I have tried every method out there, finally coming to rest on using a wet tile saw. What a dream. Thank you so much, Judy, wherever you are! Karen M. Manasco


randy_19
3/9/2007 9:38:32 AM

reading your article with great interest. I too would like to do something similar. what intrigued me most was the bottle cutter. would you have available a more detail picture and or plans to build something similar. Thanks Randy






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