Introduction: Recycled Glass Bottle Cheese Tray

Picture of Recycled Glass Bottle Cheese Tray

You may have seen these beautiful items sold for $20 to $50, but if you are lucky enough to own a kiln, you can make them yourself for only the cost of the electricity. They make wonderful gifts and conversation pieces.

This is my first slumping project. I've done a number of other glass pieces, but this is the first time I've used my kiln in this apartment, and I was thrilled to find out the breaker is rated to well over what this kiln requires.

Step 1: Materials and Supplies

Picture of Materials and Supplies

You will need:

A glass bottle, preferably the size of a wine or alcohol bottle, that will fit in your kiln
A kiln
Kiln wash
Borax (optional)
Wire (optional)

To get the glass bottle, either buy some alcohol and drink it (if you are of legal drinking age), or if you don't drink enough (like me), ask your Facebook friends. Especially right after a holiday and before recycling day, when I asked, they are sure to have some bottles around. Or do what one of my friends suggested: ask at a bar or restaurant for empties. 

My friend gave me this beautiful vodka bottle for my first try.

Step 2: Clean Bottle Thoroughly

Picture of Clean Bottle Thoroughly

Clean the bottle thoroughly inside and out. The hardest thing for me was getting the darn glue from the label off. If you can get a label-free bottle, all the better for you. This goo remover worked okay for me, but I had to get the last of it off with nail polish remover.

Allow the bottle to dry inside. This may take a few days.

Step 3: Prepare the Kiln

Picture of Prepare the Kiln

If it doesn't have it already, make sure the floor and/or shelf of your kiln are covered with a dry coating of kiln wash.

Depending on your kiln, you may or may not need to program it. For manual kilns, you will need to follow the steps outlined at

I have an older Jen-Ken AF3P (glass kiln with bead door). I believe the newer Orton controllers come pre-programmed with a Slump program, but mine did not. These are the steps I programmed my kiln to use:

Ra 1: 500 (degrees per hour to ramp at)
oF 1: 1100 (first stop for soaking)
Hld1: 0.10 (10 minutes soak time)
Ra 2: 250 (slow increase)
oF 2: 1425 (peak temp for slumping)
Hld2: 0.10 (hold, but skip if item has slumped already)
Ra 3: 1100 (crash cool; open kiln a crack to make this happen if possible)
oF 3: 1100 (stop at 1100)
Hld3: 0 (move on)
Ra 4: 150 (slowly cool off to room temp)
oF 4: 0
Hld : 0

Step 4: Prepare the Bottle

Picture of Prepare the Bottle

Since my bottle is colored, I chose to use a devitrifying solution. (Vitrifying is when the glass turns matte.) Mix one teaspoon of borax powder with one cup of water. Spray or brush on the bottle before slumping.

If you'd like your tray to hang, cut a piece of 20-gauge wire a few inches long and bend it to fit inside the bottle top. The bottle will slump around the wire and hold it firm. 

Step 5: Slump the Bottle

Picture of Slump the Bottle

Place your bottle carefully in the kiln, making sure there is air circulation around it. Remember that the exposed surface will be smoother; for this reason, I left the textured surface unexposed.

Run your kiln program or manually slump your bottle.

My temp and cycle were too long and high for this glass, so I got extra melting. Keep good records of what happens to yours so you can improve your techniques over time.

The bottle will take a long time to cool. After it is cool, take it out, wash it, and use it in good health.

Don't do what I did and rush the cooling cycle to meet a contest deadline. Mine cracked as a result. See the next step for how I rescued it.

Step 6: Added Enhancements

Picture of Added Enhancements

For a lovely gift, tie a cheese knife to the neck with ribbon and give the two together.

You can buy and add self-stick rubber feet like these. You may be able to find them in craft stores.


UPDATE: I re-fired the kiln to soften the broken corner. It worked pretty well. I didn't raise the heat all the way, so it would mostly keep its shape. I also added a piece of silver foil to the back, which turned golden on the inside (pretty!), and I added a few cubic zirconia for some sparkle. I love it!


Yonatan24 (author)2016-04-09

Great... Now I also want a kiln... ;)

Wesley666 (author)2011-12-07

If you wanted to do this, but without a kiln, you can take a piece of string and soak it in kerosene, and put it in the bottle around of the big flat sides (its perimeter) and set it on fire. As soon as the fire goes out, drop it in ice cold water and that side will break off, leaving a similar item, but then you have a bottle with three sides leftover as could then make another one...

therealbatmn (author)Wesley6662014-03-09

actually, if you were to try this again, try using 100% acetone (nail polish remover) it burns hotter and stronger and it does the job with out leaving behind razor sharp edges...all you need to do is take string soaked in the acetone and wrap it around and then light it and when the flame is close to going out you just drop it in a bucket of very cold water

susanrm (author)Wesley6662011-12-07

Unfortunately, that method would lead not only to a cheese cutting board, but a hand cutting board. The only way to keep soft edges is by using heat. Creative thinking, though!

Wesley666 (author)susanrm2011-12-07

No, it works quite well. If you have ever had a kerosene lamp and the chimney broke, you take a glass jar with the diameter you need roughly and wrap the string in the bottom in a circle, light...etc. The bottom pops out and you have a new chimney which is pretty much just a glass cylinder open at both ends. The edges aren't usually razor sharp either. If you wanted just sand the edge a touch and it would be fine. Also, if you used a bottle with an intricate pattern, it would preserve it, and this is possible for someone without a kiln to do.

PS - This is a very old method of making glass items, back when electricity and electric lamps were few and far between, but tried and true.

(I have made countless chimney's for kerosene lamps this way and many other glass objects and never cut myself on the end product, even without a touch of sanding)

susanrm (author)Wesley6662011-12-08

Okay, fair enough. I still wouldn't have it around children. Plus I'd be concerned about the hidden stresses in the glass from the thermal shock that might appear later. I can see your method being okay for chimneys, but not for kitchen tools. . Plus there are safety issues with sanding glass - you have to be so careful about the dust!

Enjoy your projects. Post pics of your stuff here if you like.

Wesley666 (author)susanrm2011-12-08

I am going to try making this with my method and post a video in the comments, plus there aren't videos of this process anywhere, or at least not that I could find. And I do like my cheese as well...

susanrm (author)Wesley6662011-12-08

Why don't you make your own instructable? You could then post the link here. That would be great.

Wesley666 (author)susanrm2011-12-08

Ok, sounds good!

tshallow74 (author)Wesley6662012-06-23

Did you ever do one by your method with the string?

Wesley666 (author)tshallow742012-06-23

Yes, it took a few tries and was VERY difficult trying to get the string in the bottle and around the edge with the little opening. Not something most people could do I think. The shape is too awkward and this method does take some practice.

barefootbohemian (author)susanrm2012-03-12

Oops that reply went to me instead of wesley666. I totally agree with you about the safety risks. Thought if he still thought of doing that maybe torching down the edge would at least help keep his own cuts to a minimum. It's not something I would be inclined to try. I like keeping the fire inside the hot box of my kiln and away from me.

Maybe torch the sides like flame work to soften them.

_mj_ (author)2014-01-05

I know many people have probably asked you this question but do I think it is possible to do this project in an ordinary kitchen over?

dave_ (author)2012-12-03

You can "Slump" Glass in the "Cleaning" cycle of modern Electric Ovens.

jcaresheets (author)2012-08-02

I 2nd that. Great work.

l8nite (author)2011-12-05

At a recent art show, the gal next to me did these, they were flying out of her tent and they were not cheap ! Somehow she removed the labels, slumped the bottles and then reapplied the labels, every thing from sample/airline size up to magnums of champagne. Some she slumped standing up and they were really cool, some she hung so they stretched. It looks like so much fun ! Thank you for sharing....

susanrm (author)l8nite2011-12-06

Oh, that's awesome! I just picked up a bunch of Coke bottles. Now if I can figure out how to remove the labels, if that's even possible...

l8nite (author)susanrm2011-12-06

I did ask her that, she said "it's a trade secret" but I bet you could find labels on line and print your own

susanrm (author)l8nite2011-12-06

She knows how to remove the glass Coke bottle labels? They don't seem to be glued on...

Actually, I just searched and found they are screened on in an enamel process, which is GOOD news for me because it means I can slump them without worrying about label removal! Yay!

As far as removing and resticking other types of labels intact, that "trade secret" is pretty easily found using Google. :-)

l8nite (author)susanrm2011-12-06

I wasn't really that interested, just making conversation with a fellow artist

barefootbohemian (author)l8nite2012-03-12

Ha ha. Sure you weren't going to do that? I know I always do - as if! It's more likely she did that when someone told her how to. I would much rather share my secrets and see what other people do and how they can improve on what I'm doing. To me art is more about the beauty shared, not the buck made. :)

l8nite (author)barefootbohemian2012-03-12

I have given more art away to people who really appreciate a piece than I care to remember but a cash appreciation is almost as rewarding as a childs smile. Like many true artists I create because I almost HAVE TO, even if it's just doodling on a napkin in a restaurant

barefootbohemian (author)l8nite2012-03-12

Sounds like me. People ask for something and I give it away. Not too great for business but makes me happy when they are happy. I have had to put.a limit on the freebies tho, gets a little expensive and some of those people are only friends when they want something.
I do feel compelled to create things, and I know I am better when I am creating; physically and mentally. I will draw on things around me, paint on whatever I can get my hands on and collect junk just for the potential I see in what I can turn it into. :)

susanrm (author)l8nite2011-12-06

I understand. I was just confused and trying to clarify what you were saying was a "trade secret," whether it was about the Coke bottles (that I had written about) or paper labels.

l8nite (author)susanrm2011-12-06

I think it was just paper labels and "trade secret" was said kind of tongue in cheek but I do remember her saying it wasn't just soaking the bottles in water because that made most of the labels unusable

susanrm (author)l8nite2011-12-08

There are some good links about how to do this online. One person suggested soaking in plain hot water for an hour or two. This is done by collectors of labels. They said no soap, and you have to be patient enough to wait for the glue to soften completely. I have yet to try this. Waiting on some bottles to dry for the next batch to go in the kiln.

barefootbohemian (author)susanrm2012-03-12

Had to laugh. Love your reply. Don't people realize there is no such thing as a trade secret anymore (at least very few, like the original recipe for KFC ha ha). Google has broken the silence to trade secrets.

l8nite (author)barefootbohemian2012-03-12

I know right ! Usually artists share with other artists at these events, even ones who use the same medium, she acted like I was going to run out and buy $5000.00 worth of equipment and set up shop next to her !

barefootbohemian (author)2012-03-12

I have the occasional problem of air trapping in the end of long thin bottles. Do you have any "trade secrets" to stop this from happening. And try soaking labels off. Most will remove intact.

mr.mountaineer (author)2011-12-14

or if you live in a place like i do (on the back-roads of West Virginia) all you have to do is take a walk out the road and you will find dozens of bottles of all different types lying along side the road. i usually go gather them up every couple of months for the trash but if you were to have a kiln (which i don't have :-{ ) this would be great.

sunshiine (author)2011-12-05

My mom used to make these! So fun! thanks for sharing.

susanrm (author)sunshiine2011-12-05

She did? Did she have a kiln? Cool!

sunshiine (author)susanrm2011-12-05

She did! I remember it was old. She had a lot of fun playing with it. I think my sister has it now.

susanrm (author)sunshiine2011-12-05

Oh, very cool. I haven't used mine in a while, and it's nice to play with it again.

mikeasaurus (author)2011-12-04

I love these slumped bottles!

Do you need to press it flat after it's been heated, or does it just collapse on it's own when heated?

susanrm (author)mikeasaurus2011-12-04

No, it slumps (flattens) by itself from the heat. You can use special molds as well to create more interesting shapes. Mine has a nice inward curve because of the shape of the bottle itself.

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