The other day, I wrote about attempting to drill through glass and I finished up the project this weekend. I think it turned out beautifully — I love the idea of bottled light thanks to Christmas Lights in a bottle!
These would be pretty by a wintery window or under an entry table. I like the way the gold paint makes the bottom of the bottles look misty and glow-y, even during the daytime.
I’ve got a ton of images and DIY instructions below if you’d like to try this too.
CHRISTMAS LIGHTS IN A BOTTLE TUTORIAL
I started with these apple juice bottles. I have long admired these bottles — I love the contrast of the big round barrel and the teeny little handle — and was glad to finally come up with a project where I could use them. The juice is good too! I got impatient waiting for the family to finish up the contents, so I had my oldest son pour what was left into another pitcher, then I washed out the inside.
Next, for my Christmas lights in a bottle project, I used my handy mini scraper tool to take off the label. This tool is basically a straight edge razor blade with a handle. When you’re done using it, you can flip the blade upside down so the sharp part is hidden in the handle. Such a useful tool! I use it to take sticky things off windows and other glass — no chemicals required.
Once the bottle was clean and label free, it was time to drill through the glass. We used a 3/8″ drill bit designed for glass and tile. The drilling takes a little while — maybe 20 minutes — because you can’t go too fast. The drilling will create white dust (I guess it’s technically sand) and as the hole gets bigger, it will smoke a bit from the heat.
[UPDATE: Hah! Apparently I did it all wrong. Lots of readers are chiming in with suggestions for safer and easier and faster ways to do this. Among other things, suggestions include wearing a mask, drilling while using water to cool the bit, and using other tools entirely.]
Next we painted. I experimented with some old jam jars and baby food jars first to try different techniques — like paint dripped from plastic spoons. But the kids voted and liked the sponged look best, so that’s what we did for the final project.
I used a disposable sponge brush and Liquid Leaf paint — but any metallic enamel paint should work. The paint is not water-cleanup, so a disposable brush is great for this project. I only needed a little bit of paint to get the coverage I wanted. Instead of brushing the paint on, I was mostly “patting” into place.
Once the paint was dry (it dries very quickly), we started stuffing our Christmas lights in the bottle. You’ll need a 50 light string that is not made to connect end-to-end. We had the hardest time finding lights like this. We went to 4 stores, but they all carried only end-to-end lights (which are the kind I prefer for my Christmas tree). Finally, I tried to think of who might carry old-school Christmas lights and Big Lots came to mind — because they often carry items from last season. Hooray! They had just what we needed.
The lights fit through one at a time, but it was a bit tight — I would recommend using a slightly larger drill bit and the light stuffing would go much faster. Oscar and Maude loved this part the best. Stuff every light on the string in, and the plug will dangle out the back, ready to find an outlet.
And that’s it! The Christmas lights in a bottle are a very satisfying project and a fun addition to our holiday decor. Though really, these don’t have to be holiday at all. We could use these for any sort of event where we want a little glow-y light happening. Maybe we need to have a party where bottled light is the theme. : )