Glass Bottle Stopper
Learn how to handcraft a decorative bottle stopper using rods of colored glass and a flame-working torch.
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Maryjane Michaud lives in a 110-year-old three-decker home in the heart of Worcester, Mass. She has a fun and feisty personality, and has been a massage therapist for 19 years. She also finds time to create stunning glass functional items. Today she will handcraft a decorative bottle stopper using rods of colored glass and a flame-working torch. After forming a colorfully patterned ball shape from molten glass, the annealed and cooled glass will be attached to a chrome bottle stopper base.
Materials and Tools:
annealing oven set to 1050 F
chrome bottle stopper base with screw post
3/8" stainless steel mandrel
graphite marver with handle
1" to 1-1/4" graphite marble mold
kitchen knife or straight edge
borosilicate glass in clear and a variety of colors
diamond wheel grinder or diamond hand pad
two part glass-to-metal epoxy
acetone (nail polish remover)
1. Measure the screw post on the top of the chrome bottle stopper base to determine the correct measurement for the mandrel. The mandrel size should be the same diameter as the screw post or slightly larger. A 3/8-inch mandrel is suggested.
2. Dip the mandrel in bead release and set aside to dry.
3. Heat annealing oven for borosilicate to 1050 F.
4. Use a properly installed flame working torch and safety glasses and prepare a stringer in green. Set it aside.
5. Preheat the dipped and dried mandrel and make three winds of glass with an 8mm clear rod approximately 3/4 inch to 1-inch distance down from the end of the mandrel. This will form a lip on the glass ball.
6. Smooth the edge of the lip with an old kitchen knife or straight edge. Endeavor to maintain a clean or straight end now means less prep work prior to adhering the finished glass ball to the chrome base.
7. Creating the glass ball: The ball can be as simple or decorative as desired. Wind the clear glass right next to the lip and build a sphere shape approximately 3/4 inch to 1 inch in diameter.
8. Form a symmetrical shape with a marble mold. Be sure to reheat the glass after you've used the marble mold as the graphite mold extracts heat and adds stress to the glass.
9. Encase the clear glass. Wind dark colored glass over the entire surface of the clear glass and melt in thoroughly. Marver into shape and reheat. Note: It's much easier to maintain a round shape as you work rather than trying to force the round shape at the end. Keep in mind that the more glass you fuse to the ball, the ball will increase in size.
10. Use the green stringer that you prepared in Step 4 and wind a continuous wavy line (snake skin design) over the surface of the ball. Heat and melt in slightly, but not all the way.
11. Place dots approximately 1/4 inch apart directly on top of the winding green pattern with a light colored or off-white glass. Melt in the dots slightly.
12. Use blue/green glass and place another layer of dots directly on top of the light colored dots and melt in slightly.
13. Finish the dot layers with clear glass dots directly on top of the blue/green dots. This clear layer of dots will magnify the underlying colors.
14. Melt in all of the dots completely until the layers are flush to the surface of the sphere. Marver with the marble mold and reheat.
Finishing the lip
15. Go back to the clear lip constructed in Step 5 and add 1 to 2 winds of the dark color used in Step 9. This will add a finished edge to the sphere.
15.b Melt in and use an old kitchen knife or straight edge to create a clean groove between the lip and the sphere shape.
16. Evenly heat the entire ball and place in an annealing oven for 1 hour at 1050 F.
17. Remove the mandrel from the annealer when the glass has thoroughly annealed and is at room temperature.
18. Run the mandrel under warm water and twist the ball back and forth until it releases from the mandrel.
19. Clean the inside of the ball by sliding the mandrel in and out of the opening while running it under water. The water will loosen the dried bead release.
20. Finish the end surface of the ball. Use a diamond wheel grinder or hand pad with a diamond grit to smooth out any roughness on the end of the ball. The finished edge should now sit cleanly on the chrome stopper base. The freshly ground surface created by the diamond grinding also makes for a better sticking surface for the epoxy.
21. Epoxy the ball to the base. Make sure the glass is dry and mix a small batch of two part glass-to-metal epoxy. Using a toothpick, put epoxy inside the hole of the glass ball as well as on the post attachment on the chrome base. Push the two parts together and burp or force out any air that may have become trapped inside.
22. While the epoxy is still wet, use an acetone product like nail polish remover to clean off any excess epoxy from the glass and the chrome.
23. Place the stopper in a container in an upright position and let dry for 24 hours.
24. The bottle stopper is not dishwasher safe. To clean, simply rinse under warm water and dry with a soft cloth.
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