How To: Turn Wine Bottles into Romantic Lanterns

Wine Bottle Lanterns

Photo: Kristina Grosspietsch

Whenever I hesitate before throwing out something useless, like an expired coupon or an old magazine, I think to myself, “Kristina… this is how the hoarding begins.” But even with a determination to be proactive about disposal—with some light to medium self-shaming thrown in for good measure—I still find myself standing next to piles of old receipts, partnerless ski mittens, and Windows ’95 software wondering where I went wrong.

So when I noticed the row of empty wine bottles lining my room the other night, I decided, as the new Editorial Assistant at BobVila.com, to find a way to up-cycle them into something fun and useful. Sure, carpe diem, YOLO, and all that, but why just write about crafting when you can do it yourself? And then write about it, obviously.

Straight from the hands of the newest BobVila.com team member: The Wine Bottle Lantern!

MATERIALS AND TOOLS:

Wine Bottle Lanterns - Materials

Photo: Kristina Grosspietsch

Wine bottle (obviously)
Power drill
Special drill bit for tile and glass (I used ½ inch but would recommend at least ⅜ inch)
Masking tape
Electrical tape
Miniature Christmas lights (you’ll need a short strand, probably with 25-50 lights on it)
Eye protectors of some sort (goggles… or sunglasses if you want to be both safe and totally cool)

Note: You’ll have to do a tiny bit of prep by removing the label. The morning of, I soaked my wine bottles in soapy warm water for about 20 minutes.

STEP-BY-STEP: 
1. To turn a wine bottle into a lantern, you need to drill a small hole through the glass large enough to feed a string of miniature lights through it. The drilling will create glass dust, which, while less terrifying than it sounds, is still good to keep contained. I put down newspapers to catch any residue, but when my father tried this last Christmas, he did the whole drilling process under running water to immediately wash away the glass dust. Do whatever you are more comfortable with.

2. Decide where you want to drill the hole. The ideal spot is near the bottom, roughly an inch above where the glass starts to curve in to the base. Put masking tape on the spot so the drill bit doesn’t slip.

Wine Bottle Lanterns - Drilling

Photo: Kristina Grosspietsch

3.  This is where the fun begins. Start drilling! Go slowly and avoid applying too much pressure. Drilling glass is different than drilling wood; pressing too hard could break the glass, while drilling too quickly could strip the drill bit. Be patient and let the tool do the work. This part can take a while, from 15-30 minutes, but if you can drown out that panicky voice in your head that’s screaming, “SOMETHING IS GOING HORRIBLY WRONG”, then you’ll see that slowly you are, indeed, making a hole. And it’s getting bigger…

Wine Bottle Lanterns - Little Drill Hole

Photo: Kristina Grosspietsch

Once you drill through the glass, the whole process will speed up exponentially, and you’ll be all set to put on the finishing touches.

Unless of course you get a noise complaint, like I did when I started this project in the Bob Vila office. There I was, patiently drilling, dreaming about luminous wine bottles adorning my dinner table, while APPARENTLY the rest of the office was steadily growing angrier and angrier about the ongoing racket. You’d think they’d be used to this sort of thing, working next to the hub of BobVila.com, but no. The project was quickly suspended until I relocated—much to my roommates’ dismay—to my apartment workshop, otherwise known as my bathroom.

4. Once you’ve drilled all the way through and are satisfied with the size of the hole, rinse everything and dry it completely. Then get out your electrical tape. It’s a good idea (safety-wise) to tape up the hole, considering the glass might be a little jagged—especially if like me, you’re the kind of person who burns her finger on pasta sauce and trips on air.

5. Feed in your Christmas lights, starting with the end opposite to the plug, leaving enough cord outside the bottle to reach an outlet. Wrap the part of the wire that touches the hole with electric tape, or heat-shrink tubing, to prevent fraying.

Wine Bottle Lanterns - Electrical Tape

Photo: Kristina Grosspietsch

And plug it in….

Wine Bottle Lanterns - Finished Product

Photo: Kristina Grosspietsch

What ambiance! I’m feeling a little more romantic already.

Put it on an end table, next to your Halloween pumpkins, or just on a counter to add a little charm to a room. So versatile. Why doesn’t everyone make one?!

While eating dinner that night, illuminated by the warm glow of my Wine Bottle Lantern, I daydreamed of what else I could make with the crap I’ve spent the last few years refusing to throw out. With all I’ve got piled in my room, the DIY possibilities are… well, endless.

For more on do-it-yourself repurposing, consider:

5 Things to Do… With Mason Jars
10 Ways to Use Your Cordless Drill/Driver
16 Spectacular Light Fixtures to Improve Your Space