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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Upcycled Bottle Chandelier

Okay, maybe "chandelier" is a bit grand, considering that nothing really dangles, but "Upcycled Sculptural Light Fixture" seemed like an awkward title...

Anyho, Miss Ginger is pretty proud of this one! She's had the idea rattling around in her mind for a while, and finally had the holy trinity of idea, materials, and time come together.

It's easy to find a million ways to upcyle the bottoms of glass bottles, as they can be turned into all sorts of glasses, candleholders, or other vessels. The tops, however, are more problematic.  Miss Ginger saved them at first simply because she was determined to keep them out of the waste stream, but she initially had no idea what to do with them.  The world only needs so many wind chimes. After making  plethora of glasses and candleholders, the suckers were beginning to pile up!

The trick to this upcycle is getting the correct adhesive. Glass is slick and non-porous, so sticking it together can be tricky. Not only does the adhesive have to hold the glass pieces together, invisibly, it also has to hold them solidly enough to support the weight of the structure. Glass is heavy! Superglue, hot glue, white glue, construction adhesive- all fail on some part of the test or another.

Epoxy is the only adhesive that will successfully adhere glass and support it's weight. Most epoxies are a pain in the ass to use, as they require mixing in just the right proportions.  Loctite Instant Mix 5-minute Epoxy is the perfect combination of strength and open time for this project, and is readily available at Lowes or Home Depot. Plus, it comes with a self-mixing syringe thingy that dispenses the adhesive and the hardener in just the right proportions! And, it dries to a transparent "yellowish clear" that totally disappears on green bottles!
Because glass is so slick, even epoxy can't reliably stick to the smooth surface.  To solve that problem, Miss G used a rotary tool with a diamond burr to scuff up the glass everywhere there was a joint. 
The first "layer" was pretty straightforward, with a healthy dab of epoxy at each side joint, and again where the necks touched.  The epoxy dries to full strength overnight, but it only takes about 20 minutes for it to harden solidly enough to continue with the next layer.
Adding the subsequent layers was only a little bit tricky due to the angles of the bottles. Miss Ginger used a Sharpie to mark the points where the bottles touched, dry fitting, marking, scuffing, and gluing each bottle one at a time.  It sounds tedious but it really went quickly. 

As the angle became steeper on the 3rd and 4th layers, Miss G used clamps to hold the bottles in place until the epoxy had set enough to hold on its own.  After 4 layers were glued up in this manner, Miss Ginger let the epoxy set overnight before she tried to move  or turn the structure.
The next day, Miss Ginger flipped the entire thing over and added one last layer to the other side of the initial layer.  This will form the top of the fixture, so she added a chain circle around the neck of every 4th bottle, to distribute the weight when the fixture hangs. She wanted to use the fixture outdoors, so she bought a weatherproof floodlamp holder  and used binder rings to center it on the chain, just above the bottles, so the light would catch the neck of the bottles as it shines down. 
Around this, she added a glass tile  to conceal the "inner workings".
Miss Ginger is a strong girl, but she needed help to hoist this sucker into position- it weighs a ton, and it's awkward to hold.  If you use it indoors, you will need to make sure to hang it from a large eye-bolt screwed directly into a ceiling joist.  Outdoors, just loop a chain around a strong tree-branch, or hang it from an eave or soffit.

Miss Ginger loves it so much she's going to make another so she'll have a pair!


Bob said...

Looks very Chihuly-esque!

Mr.Mischief said...

I love it!


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