Colorful Glass Shard Pot

My upcycle project was a glass shard decorated bottle potted plant!

To all of those who read my original “planning” post regarding my upcycle project – you may have realized that while my project function has changed, but materials are kept the same. You’ll read about why I ended up making this change. And that change happened during my very loopy design process. Overall, my design process looked a lot less like the linear design my team wrote out and more like this:

Imagine this and then tripping through about 3 more cycles. THAT’S my design process. 

My initial project idea was to ideally collect a several glass bottles of varying colors, smash them into much smaller pieces, and then drown them in glue to form a nice glue-glass tree. My inspiration was the glass because I thought that glass was beautiful in the way it reflects and refracts light, and there were so many different colors and idea to be had with glass shards.

The first part was simple: I collected the bottles, removed all of the labels, washed off the sticky residue with hot water, and air dried them.

I put all of the bottles together into several bags and took it outside where I literally bashed the bag onto the cement several times. The glass shards were all of decent size, but they were sprinkled with glass dust and miniature shards. My solution to separate the tiny and larger shards was to put the glass into a colander into a large bowl in the sink and basically sift it  until all of the small shards were washed into the bowl. My end result was two bowls of different sized shards.

I had no use for the small shards, but I didn’t want to just wash them down the drain since they were really pretty. I just left them on the side as I proceeded to begin my glass-glue tree.

As I began testing the glue that I bought, the idea entered the cold, sinking void of reality that it was not going to work. I had purchased 100 hot glue sticks and two E6000 tubes. The latter of the glues dries into a very nice clear glue which was why I had a preference toward that glue, but the hot glue would be quicker to dry. I had laid out strips of wax and plastic wrap outside and squeezed different globs of the E6000 glue (long strips, thin strips, thick strips) to test how well it dried and how easy it would be to remove from the surface in case I wanted to build them like pieces of wood. The result was that (1) even after 6 hours, even the thinnest strip of glue was still soft to the touch and (2) refused to budge from either surface. Basically, this idea was a no-go if I wanted to finish within a week.

I fell back onto plan B which was to do the same thing but use hot glue. However, I quickly learned that hot glue refused to budge from any surface as well, and it would take maybe like 200 hot glue sticks to achieve the mass that I wanted. Additionally, it wasn’t even very see-through so you could hardly see the pretty glass shards.

I resorted to my last plan which was to literally build the tree out of the glass shards by sticking them together rather than using glue as its strong foundation. I decided to try to use the tiny glass shards as a base for, say, a jewelry holder and the rest of the tree would be on top of it. About a fourth through, I took a hard look and decided: “NO”

“No”

Was all hope lost? Well… Not quite.

I grew an attachment toward the tiny glass shards as they were much more aesthetically pleasing than any ideas with the larger glass shards so far. I decided to cover an empty non-crushed glass bottle with the tiny glass shards and then maybe turn it into a tree, or something else.  I used a large glass shard as a swab, and I smeared E6000 glue over the surface of the bottle and used a spoon to apply and pat the glass shards onto the bottle. Eventually, the entire bottom half of the bottle had a layer of glass shards.

At this point, I thought, “hey, why not just cut the top off and maybe turn this into something other than a tree?” I had seen tutorials on the internet before where you could cut the top off glass rather cleanly using only acetone, a lighter, and cold water. The process basically was to wrap a string soaked in acetone around the bottle where you want to cut it, light it on fire for awhile, and then quickly dunk the bottle into cold water. The bottle should then just cut around where the string was.

It didn’t cut perfectly to my dismay, but it was workable. I juggled between two different ideas: either a candle or a plant holder. For a candle, I needed to purchase wax and a wick. However, for a potted plant, I could just turn the top upside-down and fill it with dirt. This idea would also allow for a nice separation between the water and the dirt. Plus, it would have a more upcycle feel compared to going out and literally purchasing more materials.

So ended up going with the potted plant!

Additionally, in my upcycle progress/planning post previously, I discussed possibly using an extra light-up earring I owned, and I added it as an additional perk to the pot, although it doesn’t perfectly match my aesthetic since the green drowns out the rest of the colors of the glass shards.

Overall, I think I achieved my personal goal of using colorful glass shards and my aesthetic goal of having pretty colors reflecting off glass. I wanted a home-y feel with an object that I could keep in my house. The snippets of ivy leaves growing in the pot adds the same aura of having a tree, so I’m personally quite pleased!

If I could redo this project, I would have first cut the bottle before applying the glass shards so then I could start again with a new bottle if the bottle didn’t cut cleanly (like in mine). Secondly, I could use a colored glass bottle rather than a clear bottle since the only reason I used a clear bottle was because I only had a clear one remaining after smashing all of my other bottles. Lastly, I would’ve used several more colors of bottles if possible, like red and yellow (which I’ve only seen in wine bottles, but I wanted to purchase as little as possible for this project.) I think I am personally inspired to continue cutting bottles and perhaps make a candle next time.

Also, you may be wondering the fate of the all of the large glass shards I accumulated. I plan on using them for another upcycle project, which is to melt them together and make pottery with them!

EDIT: I was stumped for awhile trying to figure out how to make the outside more safe-to touch. I was out of E6000 glue and hot glue does not dry in a way that matches its aesthetic (not to mention, it dries too fast to be spreadable). I tried spraying a coat of clear primer but it didn’t seem to do anything. I ended up purchasing a few bottles of clear nail polish and basically gooped it all over the bottle. Two full bottles were used as the outside coating! It’s still not as smooth as I’d like so I might add another bottle to the outside but at least now it’s not shedding glass shards and it’s still as shiny as it originally was!

 

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39 Comments. Leave new

  • You’re design process exemplifies how I see most upcycle projects forming. The final pot looks great but you might want to try sand blasting it to smooth the surface out evenly.

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  • Nice aesthetic. It looks like you were exploring on what you had to do but you ended up having a nice looking vase. Maybe sand down the sharp edges. I like the candle idea. Great aesthetic

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  • I love the color combination and texture created by the size of the shards. I would maybe add a permanent light.

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  • Good job creating the frosted glass look without using actual frosted glass. Just make sure you sand the shards down enough so they don’t cut anybody’s hands!

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  • Has a great sea glass look, using a small torch would let you even out the cut off edge at the top of the bottle, also using a thicker enamel like fiberglass filler would let you clear coat with less effort and more effective coverage.

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  • Awesome idea! I think working with glass is super interesting and looks amazing in design work

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  • Samantha Maierhofer
    February 10, 2016 11:44 pm

    I really like the final design. The uneven lip definitely goes with the aesthetic of the glass on the sides. Also great idea with the nail polish!

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  • It’s cool how flexible you were during the design process. The uneven cut I think adds to the broken glass aesthetic!

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  • That’s really nice! It looks very pretty. Would you consider just sanding down the edges that are sharp to smooth it out?

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  • It’s always nice when you catch a lucky break like that, finding that the small glass pieces are a good fit. It looks like you found elegant solutions to every problem that came up.

    You could try taking a diamond/jeweler’s file over the outside. It should smooth out the sharp edges without creating new ones.

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  • Nicholas Flood
    February 10, 2016 8:58 pm

    I’ve tried to cut a bottle using the same method that you did, except I used gasoline. It didn’t work, but I was happy to hear that you got it to work. I would have liked to see a tree, but your pot turned out nicely. Good job!

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  • Ashley Zimmerer
    February 10, 2016 4:51 pm

    I appreciate how you were willing to use the smaller shards for your final project, rather than trying to force your way through your original idea with the large shards. I like the color combination of the different glasses. While glass is really hard to melt, perhaps you could have heated it up until the shards began to soften and loose the sharp edges. I like you you put a plant in the bottle. It’d made a really cute pot to put above a kitchen sink. You could even add a little trellis or something for the ivy to grow up.

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  • I liked how your design process relied on improvisation to lead to your final product. The light-up (and waterproof!) earrings were an interesting addiction.

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  • Nail polish was a good solution for making the sides safe to handle. The result is colorful, reminds me of sand art.

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  • The glass shards look very fresh and aesthetic. Maybe for the next generation you could include broken pottery pieces.

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  • Joseph Yoshimura
    February 10, 2016 12:49 pm

    I love the final appearance that you ended up with! I know that you don’t necessarily love the jagged edge on the top of the bottle, but it really fits in with the design of your project!

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  • Your jar looks fantastic! How did you break all the glass pieces? Your process looks a little unsafe, I would really recommend wearing safety glasses and gloves next time. But I think you nailed your aesthetic, and the design process was a really interesting since you had a lot of design iterations.

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  • I think that this is really creative use of old bottles. I think that using multi colored glass in the future. This in combination with the candle would be really cool!

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  • Nicely done, I like the addition on the LED to light it up.

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  • Interesting idea and clever use of nail polish. I like the addition of the light.

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  • I really enjoy the glass shard aesthetic. I wonder what other techniques to make the surface less jagged. You showed great perseverance when faced with roadblocks in the project.

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  • I really enjoy seeing your design evolution and process. Instead of hot gluing the top to prevent cuts/scrapes, it might be helpful to file down the edges. The use of light is really nice. Definitely adds to the earthy and natural tones that your project captures. Good project. interesting design process.

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  • Very pretty design, very cool how you let yourself explore and take a different direction with your process. I love how the broken glass diffracts and reflects the light!

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  • The plant pot looks pretty. I would have liked to see what the glass shard tree would have looked like. The method you used to cut your bottle was awesome! I like how much thought and preplanning went into this project. It would have been supercool if you could arrange the glass shards to make a pattern. Could you use sand paper to smooth it out? The LED was an amazing addition and makes it look super cool.

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  • Looks great! You must have put so much effort into making it. I like the way that you cut the glass bottle without using glass cutter. Definitely going to try it out by my self, too.

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  • Peter Brunsgaard
    February 10, 2016 12:46 pm

    I like the randomness and organized chaos that came out of the glass shards and the jagged top of the bottle. If you wanted the bottle to be less sharp, you could coat it in epoxy rather than nail polish.

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  • Rachel Grosskrueger
    February 10, 2016 12:46 pm

    I really like how you were able to figure out a design that would fit your design aspirations! I also love the addition of the led earring to make it glow! Very beautiful and innovative design!

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  • I’ve never seen anything like this. Is it sharp when you grab it because it has all the shards? Annnnd you answered that, great idea! You could use this method to put a decorative finish on almost any surface.

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  • I like the way the pot catches the light. Interesting burning string soaked in acetone technique. The entire bottle covered in shards would have been an interesting metaphor. Any shards in your skin during construction?

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  • It turned out well. Totally different from your initial idea, but I like how you problem solved and let the project take you where it decided to, changing your design along the way. It looks pretty with all of the different colors and the LED you used.

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  • Sreyas Krishnan
    February 10, 2016 12:45 pm

    I appreciate your design approach! Seems like you ran into a lot of unexpected challenges along the way and still ended up with a great piece of art! Good stuff.

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  • When looking at the finished pot, it looks like it is covered primarily in glue, is this the case, or is most of that clear color from non-colored glass?

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  • Jacob McCormick
    February 10, 2016 12:45 pm

    I liked your idea for how to smooth out the edges!

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  • I think it is cool how your journey from your original inspiration changed so much due to the material issues until you reached your final project. I also like the difference you got from the larger shards vs. the small crystal shards. I really like how beautiful it turned out and glass is a really nice look against the plant. Cool idea!

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  • Cool concept, I’d be worried about bumping into this and getting cut.

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  • Thomas Brunsgaard
    February 10, 2016 12:43 pm

    I really like that you ended up using the pieces that you thought were initially trash. Do you think you could roll the bottle in 2 part epoxy, and then roll it through the shards? If so, you could make a bunch of them really quickly and have a family of pots. Nice work!

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  • Christopher Coffman
    February 10, 2016 12:32 pm

    This looks so cool ! I bet if you had different shades of light coming through you could produce an even cooler aesthetic.

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  • Jakob Oreskovich
    February 8, 2016 5:31 pm

    The final product turned out really nice! I actually kind of like the jagged cut around the top of the bottle – it adds some character. The LED also adds a lot of flavor. It looks pretty bright for only having one earring inside! You should definitely do a follow-up post if you ever make any more of these – I think that you could end up with a pretty cool display if you have a bunch of different designs with different. colors/sizes.

    The only concern I have is whether or not the finished product is safe to the touch. Are the small glass shards pretty safe to handle? Also, is the cut around the top still jagged? You might be able to sand down the outside to make it more handle-friendly, but it may interfere with the aesthetic you’ve created. Sanding will definitely work for the cut around the top though.

    I’m sad the glass shard tree didn’t end up working out, but you did a great job of taking the ideas and materials you’d already collected, and using them to create something great nonetheless. I wonder if there’s a different kind of adhesive out there that may work better for your initial idea? Great project!

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  • Meridith Richter
    February 7, 2016 1:34 pm

    I really appreciated being able to read through your entire design process – all the ups and the downs and the revisions. The final product is actually very upcycle-chic, and I especially like that you used it as a pot for a plant (I too ended up sticking a plant in my project as well). I think the whole broken glass/broken pottery look goes great with gardening, but you definitely put a new spin on it by utilizing the crumbly small pieces rather than the larger shards. How well do the pieces stay on? Is the final product comfortable to hold? I am assuming the small pieces are crushed well enough that’s not really a problem. Or do you plan on putting a coating or something like that on the outside?

    Reply

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