Manipulating a glass wine bottle is an exciting process that allows you to take a recycled item and create a distinctive piece of glass art. Using high temperatures of over 1,500 degrees, you can bend and shape the vessel to create functional items, such as cheese platters, or make decorative works like wall hangings.
Reshaping or slumping a wine bottle requires specialized tools and supplies that get hot enough to soften the bottle's glass and have the heat resistance needed to support the hot bottle.
First, purchase a kiln (also known as an annealer), which is an oven that can reach extreme temperatures. For slumping, you will need a kiln that reaches 1,475 degrees, but ideally you should look for one that reaches 1,500 degrees. Manufacturers of these ovens include Paragon, Skutt and AIM and are available from lampworking and stained glass suppliers.
Next, obtain a kiln wash or fiber paper product to cover your kiln shelf. The wash or fiber paper, available from warm glass suppliers like Slumpy's, is applied before you place the bottle inside to keep the glass from sticking to the kiln when it melts. You only need to use one product (the kiln wash or fiber paper) and you must follow the instructions on the package for proper application.
Continue by acquiring a devitrification spray for your wine bottle. Use a solution, such as Fusemaster Superspray, to spray the vessel to make sure the glass does not develop a cloudy or bubbly appearance when melted.
Additionally, you can opt to select a mold for your bottle so it will melt into a particular shape when it is heated. Warm glass suppliers like Slumpy's offer a wide range of concave and convex materials that can withstand a kiln's high temperatures.
Prepare the Bottle
To ensure the best possible outcome, prepare your glass wine bottle before attempting to manipulate it. Remove the label on the bottle by soaking it in a sink of warm, soapy water or use a hair dryer to warm the tag. Scrape and/or peel off the paper and continue to clean the remainder of the bottle before drying it. Spray a devitrification solution over the entire surface of the bottle.
Use a standard slumping process for melting your vessel and be aware that not all kilns perform the same, so this procedure may take some practice.
Start by placing the wine bottle in the annealer on its side, turn the oven on and allow it to heat up to 1,100 degrees. Remain at this setting for 10 minutes so the entire vessel has enough time to absorb the heat.
Adjust the kiln temperature so it increases by 250 degrees an hour until it reaches 1,300 degrees. Watch closely to ensure the bottle does not get too hot too fast and crack. When the appropriate temperature is reached, increase the heat to 1,475 degrees.
Continue by watching the bottle's progress by peering into the kiln window or by quickly opening the door. While at 1,475 degrees, the vessel is at its melting point and is taking a new shape. Stay at this temperature until the bottle reaches the form you desire.
When you are happy with the bottle's form, quickly lower the temperature to 1,100 degrees by opening the door to crash cool the kiln. You do not want any more melting to occur, and rapidly lowering the temperature helps keep the bottle's current shape.
Lastly, continue to cool the oven, but this time control the temperature drop so it does not drop more than 150 degrees an hour. If you have a digital controller, you can program this setting so you do not need to watch the kiln.
Remove the newly formed glass wine bottle from the annealer when it is cool and wash away any kiln debris with soapy water.
Brandy Alexander has been writing professionally since 2001. She is a glass artist with a Web design and technical writing background. Alexander runs her own art-glass business and has been a contributor to "Glass Line Magazine" as well as various online publications.