Tropical Upcycle Progress

I have begun the process of creating my tropical upcycle project. The first step in the process was to select the glass I was going to use. I chose to use a selection of old bottles that I collected that I had in three different colors. These colors were green, blue, and brown. I plan to use these three colors to create an ocean landscape scene. 

The next step in the process was to remove the label from all of the glass bottles. This step proved to be more difficult than I had originally anticipated. At first I tried using a technique that I found on the internet that suggested using an olive oil and baking powder mixture to rub on the labels that would cause them to come off. When trying this technique I found it to be ineffective in removing the labels from my glass bottles. After this I tried a new technique that had me place the bottles in a pot of boiling water and add some dish soap.

This technique proved to be far more effective than the previous technique though it was also time consuming. One interesting thing I noticed during this was that each of the bottles, green, blue, and brown took different times for the labels to start coming off. The brown bottles were the easiest and the labels started to come off after around ten minutes. The green bottles were the middle and took about 30 minutes. For the blue bottles even after almost an hour in the boiling water the labels were still hard to remove. This leads me to believe that each of the bottles labels utilize different adhesives. Ultimately I was able to remove all of the labels off the bottles.

The next steps in the process will be breaking the glass bottles into pieces. I hope to be able to get a variety of different sized pieces to give me more options for assembly. After that I will finalize the design I want to create with the glass shards. I plan to try to lay out my design with all the pieces before I start to glue them together. The final steps will be individually gluing each piece together and allowing the sculpture to set till it hopefully will all hold. 

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Hey Andrew,

    Good update, looks like you’re coming along well. in the next step, definitely be careful with how you break the bottles (obviously). I once got cut by a glass shard which ripped right through my gloves! Just curious, Are you going for a mosaic feel? or more of a 3D sculpture like in the first picture? In either case, I think the adhesive you use could play a big role in capturing the aesthetic. For example, if you go 3D, you might want to consider using something that doesn’t show to accentuate the pieces more, but if you do a mosaic, it might be beneficial to use something that shows a lot (like plaster) to give off a tile feel.

    • For my project I am planning to go with something that is in between 3D and a mosaic. Due to the curved nature of the glass I think the final product will not be 100% flat but I do plan to make it more flat than say a full 3D sculpture. For the adhesive I am planning on using a gorilla glue.

  • Branden Tangney
    February 9, 2021 3:19 pm

    Hi Andrew! I am very excited to be following on your journey with this interesting design. I was a bit surprised to hear how the different labels on the respective bottles took different lengths of time to come off. This is interesting as I would think all bottle companies would use the same adhesive to save on cost. Either way, I am glad they came off. I think the color scheme you decided to use is cool and will create a great ocean landscape. My only question at this time is how you plan to cut the glass into pieces. Have you been able to break any bottles to this point into different size pieces? I am excited to hear how this next part of the process goes!

    • In order to break the glass I am planning on putting the glass inside a thick canvas bag and then striking the bag with a heavy pan. I have not tried this technique yet but I will try to adapt if it does produce the pieces of glass I am looking for.


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