I Melt Bottles!
There. I said it. And I’m not embarrassed by it at all.
I’ve been told by more than one glass artist that there is no art in melting bottles, and that melted bottles aren’t art or worthy of a glass artist’s time. But I’m here to tell you that’s just not true.
This post isn’t a tutorial on how to melt bottles; it’s an explanation of why you should melt bottles.
Melting bottles can help you learn how to program your kiln and create your own schedules. It can teach you how glass behaves at different temperatures; the benefits of kiln wash and fiber paper, especially if you’re melting bottles with painted surfaces. Bottles can be melted flat, melted partially standing to make Daliesque sculptures or vases, or even broken into pieces then cast.
One advantage of melting bottles is the low materials cost, and you can drink the contents. Bonus! Bottles come in all shapes and colors and can be purchased almost anywhere. You don’t need a wholesale account, aren’t restricted by 9–5 retail hours, and don’t need a warehouse or loading dock to receive or store them.
When I first started fusing glass, I thought it was fun to melt bottles and they sold well at $20 each (and still do).
Admittedly, $20 isn’t a lot of money but it’s perfect for what we do with the proceeds. You see, we don’t melt bottles for profit; we melt them to be able to help those less fortunate. For $20 we can buy a used backpack from a thrift store, fill it with some essentials, and give the full backpack to a homeless person.
Let me breakdown the contents:
Used Backpack from a thrift store in good shape (a new one is a target for theft)
A hat and gloves and maybe a scarf (also from a thrift store)
Cans of potted meats and tuna
Boxes of raisins
Bottles of water
A bar of soap
Toothpaste and toothbrush
Hairbrush or comb
A small first aid kit
So don’t be afraid to melt bottles, and certainly don’t be bullied by some “Artist” who says it’s not art or there’s no value in it. It has value for those that benefit. Remember: it’s your kiln, do what you want to with it!