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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Chief Bottle Washer...or How I Spent Saturday {one-of-a-kind fused glass art | Knoxville, TN}

After many months of procrastinating (and upsetting one customer who is awaiting a replacement of the final outcome of my procrastination) I finally broke down and spent Saturday afternoon doing what I consider to be the most unpleasant task at Sassy Glass Studio: Washing Bottles. Why was I washing bottles? One of the most popular items I sell is both the least creative and the most time-consuming to produce. Bottle cheese trays are created from empty wine, water, liquor or any other kind of bottles and don't require any real creativity on my part aside from how I actually obtain some of the more colorful or interesting shape bottles. The real challenge with the bottle cheese trays comes in the preparation and firing of the bottles. I thought I would share the bottle's journey with you so (A) you could find out how the cheese trays are created and (B) I could vent my frustration in a somewhat useful manner.

The bottles come from all over the place- friends, family, trash cans, bars and I suppose I could even hang out at the recycling center to collect some. Many in my immediate family enjoy wine, so bottles are usually readily available. Any glass bottle can be upcycled into a cheese tray. Obtaining the bottles is not difficult and I have at least 100 bottles in my studio awaiting washing. That is an overwhelming number of bottles and would take a long time to wash (and fire!) so I decided I would wash about 20 bottles. I won't bore you with the play-by-play of the whole afternoon but the bottles have to soak for about 30 minutes in soapy water before there is any prayer of the label coming off and then the bottle has to be scrubbed of residue and rinsed inside and out. I left them in the sun to dry. To be perfectly honest, it is the label removal that I despise. Some labels are gummy and some leave a residue that is almost impossible to remove. The bottles with difficult labels are destined for the recycling center. I certainly have plenty of other bottles ready to take their place.

 This is what the bottles look like after they have been fired in the kiln up to 1475 degrees and slumped (flattened) to resemble a tray. They can be used as cheese trays, trivets or just for decoration.

Bottles ready to be washed

Bottles soaking in a relaxing soapy bath

Bottles drying in the hot sun
On the bright side, the bottle cheese trays are a great gift for housewarmings, weddings or birthdays. I sell them in the Etsy shop, typically with a cheese spreader tied on with some raffia, for $20; however, right now there are a couple of spreaderless cheese trays in the shop for $15. I can paint clear bottles with glass paint or decoupage a photograph to the back/bottom of the bottle for a personalized gift. And, if anyone is interested, I offer wholesale pricing on orders of 20 or more cheese trays. Please contact me for pricing.

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Anonymous said...

Just a hint on how I've made bottle washing easier...I wash my bottles in the dishwasher first. That makes the labels very easy to peel off. Then I spray the sticky gunk with Goo-Be-Gone. It works wonders!

Lisa Gifford Mueller said...

Great idea! Sadly, I don't have a dishwasher, but I have thought about putting the stubborn bottles in very hot water. Always appreciates tips. Thanks for dropping by!