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Recycling – About the Bottle

Custom Recycled Wine Bottle Trays by Artist Michelle Copeland at

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. 

– Michelle Copeland

The Process of 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 with labels, etc.

 2013 Update – Food Safe Labels are sealed with a new clear coat. Guaranteed food safe, non-toxic and waterproof. Cheers!

Click here for my Glass Care and Use guide.
Keepin’ it Green,