Crafting and Hobbies · Drinks and Cocktails · Thrifting and Upcycling

How to Reuse and Redesign Glass Bottles

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I’m one of those people who has the serious compulsion to buy a drink every time I go to a gas station. I LOVE having a fancy tea in my cup holder while I’m driving, or splurging on iced coffee in a cute glass bottle. But let’s be real for a second. Iced tea in a can can easily rack up sugar, some of them having almost 30 grams of sugar per serving, and most of them having 2-3 servings per bottle. Nope nope nope. Not to mention the glass containers are entirely reusable, but typically we just throw them out. Even recycling requires energy to melt back down and reuse glass and metal. Plus there’s the money issue; a glass jar of everyone’s favorite mermaid-logo’ed iced coffee can be $2.50 a pop!

The solution? Reuse those glass bad-boys.

I have a deep love for all things glass. Don’t know why, just do. I also love discount grocery stores like Grocery Outlet, but on this particular day, I was made a chump when I gave in to .40 cent tea bottles. What a deal! But, it turns out I’d bought expired tea. I know those dates are a bit over-careful and it was probably fine, but I didn’t care for the taste and decided to just cut my losses without the risk of getting sick. But that little waste-not want-not voice in the back of my head insisted I should at least get my money’s worth out of the purchase.

I certainly think things worked out! I started just refilling the bottles with iced coffee to take with me (on these weird Pennsylvania winter days where it’s been like 60 degrees. What even). Then I figured if I was going to keep using them, I might as well make them pretty to look at!

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Here is the original bottle, and when I peeled off the label. Unfortunately it left a really stubborn strip of water-proof label.

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I tried using the coconut oil and baking soda slurry, but there was no point with the label still on there. So instead I filled the sink with hot water and just let them sit a while until the glue softened up. Then I was able to peel the label remnants right off.

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Then I used the slurry (one part oil, one part baking soda) and put a good layer of it on each bottle. The trick is to be patient and really let it sit there for several minutes. My first application of slurry I removed after maybe two minutes, but I then had to go back and reapply a second coat. I let this one sit for over 10 minutes and the residue just melted right off. Then I used dish soap and washed the bottled like normal glassware to get all the oil off for the next step.

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Painting! Finally the fun stuff. Remember, even the oil from your hands can be detrimental to enamel or multi-surface acrylic paint, so be sure to wash the coconut oil off and even use rubbing alcohol to prep the surface if you have it. Use glass paint, enamel paint, or multisurface paint that is specifically ok for use on glass. Read the instructions to cure it! Some paint takes 30 days to cure. Some paint can be cured in the oven in about 45 minutes. Always start with a cool oven to bake glassware, to prevent the glass from cracking, and let it cool completely in the oven before removing it. After that it should be top-rack dishwasher safe, according to the paint you use!

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These are my finished bottles. I LOVE them! I keep them in the fridge to grab on my way out the door. I’ll go into a bit more detail about how I painted and filled each one below.

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These two were made by using Martha Stewart reusable glass stencils which I purchased from Michaels. I’m using the brand name so that you know what to buy if you choose to do this yourself. The reusable stencils have a sticky back which continues to be sticky even after you wash it. Just layer on the paint thick, and remove the stencil before it begins to dry. You have one layer to get it right, and glass paint tends to be pretty thin, so really slather it on there.

I filled the one on the left with water and threw in a couple of lemon slices, but you can make any herb or fruit water in a convenient little bottle. The one on the right is a pre-mixed shrub soda (see my post on making your own shrubs for more info) using strawberry ginger shrub and some club soda.

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This may be my favorite bottle, kind of poking fun at the expensive Starbucks iced coffee jars. See my attempt at a mermaid tail? Lol! Just iced coffee and a dash of flavored creamer. Making custom artwork on glass is really fun and I used to make shot glasses for my friends all the time. The trick is to work in very, very thin layers. Keep going back over them until the color becomes entirely opaque, because again, glass paints tend to be thin. But you have to let the previous layer dry before attempting to paint a new one, or you’ll just pull off all the paint. I worked on several bottles at once, and just bounced back and forth on them so the layers dried completely while I was working on a different bottle.

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You can make your life simpler by mocking up the design on paper, and then placing it in the bottle to trace it. Just remember that glass bends light, and the thicker the glass, the more it may distort the image. Look at the design head-on every now and then to be sure you aren’t distorting the lines based on the angle you’re painting at.

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You can also free-hand simple designs like this with almost no inherent artistic talent or painting skill (yay!). Make a simple design like my pink Yin-yang, or Google different fonts to copy down your favorite quote. (Mine reads “A dark wind blows through Sherwood” because Robin Hood and his Merry Outlaws is one of my favorite books of all time). Check out Pinterest for quote boards, too. And lastly the dot-mandala is a really simple and impressive way to paint a cool design. Just start with one dot in the center, then dot around in concerntric circles with complementary colors. (Tip: don’t bother counting the dots. I’ve tried and it just ended up looking funny. Just dot around in circles and it’ll look perfect).

I filled these with water and put a tea bag in each one, then left them outside in the sun for some awesome sun tea. WAY better than 99 cent sugar water in a can! Of course if you prefer something sweeter, you can make a simple syrup with one part sugar and one part water melted in the microwave, and just stir that in later.

That’s it! Six new bottles I can use every day, bring in my car, use for work lunches, or grab when I’m feeling too lazy to pour a drink into  cup. I’ll put a simplified tutorial below:

Step 1: Empty and rinse the bottles

Step 2: Soak bottles in hot water until the labels peel off easily.

Step 3: Make a slurry of one part coconut oil and one part baking soda, apply in a thick layer, then allow to sit for several minutes until the residue can be washed off.

Step 4: Wash bottles with soap and remove oil (optional: use rubbing alcohol)

Step 5: Paint with mutlisurface acrylic or enamel paints using stencils, quotes, or original designs. Let them dry an hour, then place into a cool oven and bake at 350 for 30 minutes, then allow to cool in the oven. (This may VARY. Refer to your specific paints for instructions on how to cure, or risk losing all your artwork in the dishwasher!)

Step 6: Fill with your favorite drink, coffee, or water and a tea bag ❤ Use again and again!

Hope you guys found this helpful and feel inspired to reuse your glassware and save a little money!

And as always, feel free to leave any feedback or questions below, and be sure to follow me on Pinterest 🙂 Quick blurb here. Pinning my posts on Pinterest is actually the best way I have right now to generate traffic, and continue to provide cool content. I’ve gone into photoshop and made pinnable images for all these posts, so check out my board!

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