Sunday, April 24, 2011

Cracking off glass bottles

I dug some old Jackson Napa Soda Springs, AETNA Mineral Water, and Borello Brothers bottles out of a creek up in Napa County a while back and just had the bottles displayed in my window. I happened across this creek whilst trespassing a bit (common theme here) at the abandoned Napa Soda Springs resort/spring water property. It seems that they threw the reject bottles down the hill and into the creek because there was a couple of hundred feet of creek bed where there was massive amounts of broken glass and pieces of bottles. I went wild. Forget the photography, I spent about 90 minutes digging through the creek and dirt pulling out the most whole bottles I could find. None of them had the necks and tops though. I had about 10 bottles collected and my GF at the time said "What are you going to do with all those?" I had no good answer at the time, but I sure couldn't leave them there. I picked 5 of the best ones, each with a different name or slightly different name variation and brought them home.
Well, years ago I heard about this kit in the 70's that allowed you to cut up glass bottles to make cups out of. Seeing that I have tree-hugger/picker/cheapo/salvage tendencies, I thought this was a right cool idea.
From time to time I'll research the techniques required for one of the hundreds of projects that are on my list and last night I happened to think of the old bottle cutting idea that I never followed up on. My research found many misguided folk with crazy kits, special tools and complicated techniques that didn't work very well. Finally I landed on this brilliant video by the Corning Museum of Glass:

This was more up my alley and is clearly the real deal way to do this. Well, I tried it out and man is it easy. Since there was so much dis-information on the 'net, I decided to add my own video of this technique. Check it:

I finished the sharp edges using my standard metal working tools and techniques.
Step 1: Course stone on a dremel at high speed, to round the inside and outside edge of the cup.
Step 2: Scotch-Brite Combi-Wheel on my Makita. (link)
Step 3: Fine grit worn out flap disc on my angle grinder to polish.
Step 4: Deburring non-woven abrasive wheel on my buffing machine.

The cups turned out real nice. The bottles are teal/aqua green, blob top, iron pontil, and "blowing in mold" (BIM) style manufacture. My bottle dating research indicates that these bottles are from 1845-1870 but my site research shows they are most likely between 1870 - 1900. I'm figuring mid 1890's which was the height of production at this site.

I decided to gift these to my sister instead of using them myself. Well, I'm actually going to go back and score more bottles from this creek since they turned out so well, and make another set for my own use. Giving 'em away just gives me the excuse to trek back up there and dig in that creek again!

No comments: