These beautiful, customized wine bottle lanterns are perfect for a garden party or any outdoor event!
When I first saw these wine bottle lanterns on Pinterest, I knew we had to have them for our wedding at the vineyard. What could be more perfect or theme-appropriate? Just one problem: I wanted enough of these to have 2 at every table and the cost to buy them was about $20 per bottle, which would’ve equated to just shy of $1K for our wedding. Whaaaat?! With the volume of wine we drink around our house and my DIY gene, there was no way I wasn’t going to figure out how to make them myself.
I’m so pleased to bring you this DIY Wine Bottle Lantern tutorial which is by far the furthest DIY outside of my wheelhouse (cutting GLASS?! me?!) thus far but also one of the most rewarding. It’s definitely intimidating to try something like this for the first time but the process isn’t all that difficult when you get the hang of it and the end result is so worth it.
First and foremost, if you’re starting with wine bottles that still have their labels on them, you’ll need to remove the labels and all of the adhesive from the bottle at some point in this process. This isn’t difficult by any means but can be time-consuming and differs widely by bottle. The best tutorial I found for this was this one which uses only water, baking soda and coconut oil to remove all of the adhesives and is both easy and fool-proof. Any extra persistent adhesive thereafter can then usually be taken off with a little Goo Gone.
Now on to the cutting. To clarify, the glass cutter doesn’t actually cut the bottle all the way through; it just creates a score line which weakens the glass in that area. What will actually perform the real “cut” will be a series of submersions in hot and then cold water to “shock” the glass which will then ideally break along the score line you made – ta-da! For consistent, high-quality scoring I recommend the G2 to cut the bottles because: 1) I’ve used it and I know it works; and 2) It’s a LOT less expensive ($17) than similarly high-performing devices such as the Kinkajou ($58). Technically, you could also choose to use an even less expensive, simple handheld tool to make the score line but I wouldn’t recommend it. Why? Because it is even MORE difficult to get a straight, even score line freehand and you will end up with a lot of wasted bottles with jagged edges. Just take my word for it.
Now, the G2 makes it super easy to get a good score line with a series of metal bars which are fully adjustable depending on where you want your cut and the size of your bottle. The part of the tool that makes the score line is at the bottom and once all of the metal bars are lined up and the bottle is flush against them, all you really have to do is turn the bottle one full revolution to make a good, straight line. It’s important to note that you should only do this once; continuing to turn the bottle and score over an existing score line will not get you good results.
Next, we’ll get our very hot and very cold water prepared to effectively “shock” the bottle into breaking along the score line. Fill a medium size pot with water and heat on high on the stovetop. Then, fill your sink with very cold water and add ice cubes to the water to make it even colder.
Once the water on the stovetop is boiling (keep on high heat), submerge the bottom half of the bottle in the pot for roughly 45 seconds. It’ll be steamy so be careful not to burn your hands! Then, pull the bottle out of the hot water and submerge immediately in the cold water, again for roughly 45 seconds. Continue with this method until the bottle breaks which in my experience is usually about 1-2 cycles of the hot/cold.
Finally, sand down the cut edge of your bottle first with the medium grade sandpaper and then with the finer grade sandpaper to make sure your edges are nice and smooth. If you skip this step, the raw edge could cut you or someone else and you definitely don’t want that, obvi.
To decorate the bottles, I used Martha Stewart glass paint with a simple foam brush or a “pouncer” (essentially a small piece of foam on a stick; see below) and a couple of different stencils including the self-adhesive Martha Stewart lettering stencils for our monogram as well as regular plastic stencils (below) that I adhered to the bottles with masking tape. The key is to dab the paint on vs using a typical painting motion which could cause paint to go underneath the stencil where you don’t want it. Then, as soon as you’re finished with the paint, take off the stencil right away while the paint is still wet. You definitely want to do this while the paint is still wet because once it has dried, it may unintentionally peel some of the paint on your bottle off when you go to remove the stencil.
There are a lot of different stencils at Michael’s including the mandala and Moroccan print I chose which will only set you back a couple of bucks each. The Martha Stewart lettering stencils are a little more expensive ($10) but really the best option I’ve found if you do plan to do any lettering given that there are lots of different styles to choose from and they’re self-adhesive which makes them super easy to use. I recommend checking out the entire selection of stencils at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby and choosing a few that you love.
One final step! When I lit the candles in my new wine bottle lanterns for the first time, I found that the flames would extinguish within just a minute or two and the reason is science. The flames needed oxygen to feed them and they weren’t getting enough with just the small opening at the top of the bottle so I had to find a way to get more oxygen in to keep them burning. The fix: Add a few of the clear adhesive cabinet bumpers evenly spaced around the bottom of each bottle and the flames will stay lit! These bumpers provide just enough elevation to let the necessary oxygen in from the bottom of each bottle to keep those flames burning.
That’s it! How did your wine bottle lanterns turn out? Please feel free to like, share and/or join in the discussion with comments below to share your own new DIY wine bottle lanterns.
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Hi! I’m Lisa, creator and owner of SuburbanAF.com, a women’s interest/lifestyle blog for women living a suburban lifestyle. This blog is the natural evolution of earlier blogs I managed, including Becker it Yourself, centered primarily around DIYs. Join me on the suburban journey to Master Mrs. with Style with topics including friends, family, fashion, home, food, travel, fitness and health/beauty, all in good humor.
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