I live in California where wine bottles are plentiful. As a maker, it's great to have a never ending source of material for my projects and thankfully my friends are happy to keep my supplies up.
I built a simple wooden jig to score the wine bottles which allows me to separate the glass safely and cleanly, but the bottles vary in wall thickness and quality so some will break. It's okay. Just drink more wine ;-)
Since this project is for small planters, the edges don't have to be perfectly even but it is good to make sure the edges won't cut you as you work with the plants. I also like making drinking glasses but since those need to be nearly perfectly level, I've started making these and when one comes out exceptionally well it goes in the 'drinkable' pile to be turned into a glass instead of a planter. For those interested in starting out a urban garden, this is a great start. These guarantee good drainage, which is a common problem for people starting to grow their own plants.
As with nearly all of my projects, I made it at Techshop.
Step 1: Make Your Jig
I made my own jig following this Instructable:
No need to reinvent the wheel - this is a great Instructable to follow AND a fellow Techshopper.
Step 2: Split That Glass!
Using the jig, apply even pressure as you rotate the wine bottle. I took the labels off of the bottles by soaking them in the bathtub. Then the real work came - finding the right heat source for splitting the bottle.
This is where the blowtorch comes in!
Separating the bottle requires a few rounds of hot/cold to shock the glass at the score line.
I tried a candle, a blowtorch, pouring hot water, a match, two candles, but the magic touch was...
my crème brûlée torch!
It has a great target area, it's easy to hold and control, and I can adjust the intensity of the flame. I alternated using the torch on the score line with cold water. This was much more successful and reduced the split lines. After this, sand paper was all the edging needed to finish up the glass.
Step 3: Assemble Your Planters! Eat Your Herbs!
Flip the top back into the bottom of the glass. Cut pieces of moisture wicking fabric 12" long and run them through the bottom of the neck of the bottle (now the bottom) and hold the top in place as you assemble the following layers:
- Large lava rocks (for drainage)
- Smaller river rocks
- Pot soil (the moisture wicking fabric needs to bring the water up to the soil)
Then pot your herb as usual! The planters will drain really well, but keeping water in the bottom glass will help regulate the water. I still needed to water these herbs from the top down, but these planters worked really well at keep the drainage steady.
I planted oregano, basil, cilantro, parsley, and tarragon. It's been a delicious project!
Use this as your own indoor garden, as a housewarming gift, or as a lovely centerpiece for a special event or wedding!