Recycling: All about the Bottle

After over 20 years in the glass industry, I decided it’s time to explore the process of melting glass bottles.
One would think this is a simple process, but after diving in, I realize recycling bottles is as difficult, if not more difficult than traditional glass fusion.
Perhaps the most important info I can share with you is this; glass bottles are all made of “mystery glass”. Every bottle has a different manufacturer and every manufacturer uses a different type of glass to produce the bottles. To add to the mystery, results vary based on bottle glass color, thickness and shape.
Some bottles are perfectly shiny, while others come out soft-looking, not shiny at all. The really odd bottles have a little bit of both going on. Everyone is familiar with how a window looks when you exhale breath on it. This is the look I am referring to.

The Process: Transforming Bottles into Art

  • Empty the bottle and rinse to prevent sediment
  • Fill the bottle and immerse in hot water to loosen the labels
  • Use a razor blade to get the labels off completely
  • Scrub with steel wool because no label glue can remain
  • Let dry completely
  • Use alcohol to rinse bottle and completely wipe down the outside too. No water spots or fingerprints can remain or they will be fused in permanently.
  • Let dry completely
  • Now it can go into the kiln (this took 2 days to get to this point).
  • One more day in the kiln to heat, melt and cool properly.

After the bottles have slumped flat with a handled neck, I can begin the finishing work.

  • 2013 Update – Food Safe Labels: I seal my labels with a new clear coat, which is guaranteed food safe, non-toxic and waterproof. ~Cheers!
    Recycled Wine Bottle Recycled Wine Bottles, Vision Cellars  Recycled Wine Bottle, Vision Cellars Recycled Wine Bottle with food safe coating Recycled Bottle with food safe coating Recycled Wine Bottle, Vision Cellars
  • My earlier bottles have custom labels on the back. This takes 2-3 days to properly seal the labels, depending upon the weather and humidity. Bottles with labels on the back can be wiped with a damp cloth, but please do not soak them in water to preserve the beautiful artwork.
    Recycled Wine Bottle Recycled Wine Bottle, Custom Order Recycled Wine Bottle
  • I have many ideas for finishing my bottles, but as you can see, every one of them becomes something unique. Click here for my Glass Care and Use guide.
    Keepin’ it Green, ~Michelle
    Recycled Bottle Recycled Wine Bottle, etched grapes Recycled Wine Bottle, engraved, sealed with food safe coating Recycled Bottle with food safe coating Recycled Flat Bottle Recycled Flat Bottle

About Michelle

Michelle Copeland has been practicing Glass Art since 1991 in the following disciplines: - Stained Glass - Lampworking - Fusion and Slumping - Hand-Painted - Sandblasting - Blown Glass. Largely self-taught, Michelle's unusual approach to glass is exhibited in her art, capturing elegance, energy and playful color in her work. Each piece is individually created by the artist herself - her unique approach to glass adds interest, prestige and value. Line, form, color and movement are key ingredients that combine to articulate Copeland's distinctive style.


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