chris barr

Photo/Dev/Design

Light(n)ing In A Bottle

A few weeks ago I decided to finally photo-document a step-by-step process I’ve been working on for a few years now for how to drill a hole into a glass bottle and get an entire strand of Christmas lights inside it.  As seen above, it look pretty cool and these can make for pretty great decorations around your home, or if you’re feeling generous they’re not-too-shabby gifts either.

I made this as an Imgur Album and submitted it to Reddit (my most popular submission to date!), but I hardly post enough content on my blog and I’ve not seen this type of thing documented well elsewhere, so…

Here’s Everything We’ll Need

We will need some pretty bottles, LED Christmas lights, a drill, spear drill bits for drilling glass, and a container of some kind that can hold water.

Up first, a Bombay Sapphire gin bottle

Submerge it


Put the bottle in the container and fill it up with water so it comes over the side you plan on drilling. Make sure the bottle fills up to or else it will probably float. We need to drill this underwater so that we don’t have glass dust going everywhere, we don’t want to breath that or clean it up!

Glass drilling drill bits


These are a must. You can’t drill a hole in glass with normal drill bits. I’ll start with the 3/8 inch bit, it’s the larger on on the right half here.

Let the drilling begin!


Make sure everything is underwater, and drill slowly. Don’t go too fast or press down too hard or else you might shatter or crash the bottle. On this bottle I have a nice flat surface and the glass is thick, but on something like a wine bottle that is a bit thinner and has a curved surface, it’s much more difficult to drill and more likely to break (trust me…)

A hole!


Start with a small bit, and we get a very small pinhole. Stop when air bubble come through.

Time for a bigger bit!


Now we switch to a different kind of glass drilling bit. It’s about the same width, but now we can make a slightly larger hole. That’s the key with this, make a small hole and gradually make it larger.

Slightly larger…


After stepping up the drill bit size a few times, we have this

Bring out the big guns


Time for the biggest glass drilling bit I could find. This ons is 3/4 inch, which makes a large enough hole to put stuff in it!

We begin…


We might have to start at an angle at first…

Now we have a 3/4″ hole!


The edges might be a little rough, but if you drilled slowly and didn’t press too hard then it should be mostly smooth. You can use the drill bits at an angle to help smooth out anything that needs it.

A nice clean hole

Time for another bottle


I did another bottle, and now a standard wine bottle.

Drillin’

Still Drillin’


Notice how cloudy the water is? That’s the glass from 2 previous bottles. That’s all the glass that we are NOT breathing in!

3 bottles with holes!


Yay!

Dispose of the glass water


Glass particles in your sink are probably not the best thing for it, so I say pour this outside. Pour it slowly so the larger glass particles stay in.

Leftovers


Here’s all the remaining glass bits. Clean these out with lots of paper towels or something so you don’t cut yourself!

Stuff those lights


Now, take some LED Christmas lights and stuff them into the hole we made. Be sure to choose LED lights instead of traditional incandescent bulbs because they don’t produce heat inside the bottle and they are brighter & easier it see through the colored glass. The strand I got for this bottle was 50 lights, which seems about right for this size of bottle. 50-100 lights is probably good for a normal sized wine bottle, but 100 is a lot and it will get TIGHT! 75 is probably a better number to shoot for, but idk if they make lights in that amount.

Keep stuffing


This strand of lights has a plug on both end for connecting multiple strands. We can’t fit that through the hole, so we can either clip it off and put electrical tape over the wires, or just leave it hanging out like this.

Rearrange


Every now and then it might feel like you can’t stuff any more in there, and thats when you need a trusty coat hanger. Make it into a hook and pull the wires around to make more space near the hole for stuffing more lights.

All done!


They all fit!

Our first bottle finished!

200 lights!


The Bombay Sapphire gin bottle is a lot bigger, and I bought this strand of lights last year and I’m ready to put it to use… so hopefully I can fit all 200 lights in here.

Lap-full of lights


So. Many. Lights.

Keep going


This one was just about too many lights, it got really difficult to stuff them all in, but it all eventually worked in the end with enough coat hangar work.

The finished products!


I’m happy with the results. All of these contain white LED lights, and the colored glass really makes a difference on each one. I’ve found myself in the wine/liquor aisle buying things purely based on the cool bottles after I’ve started doing this…

Daisy Chain!


Since we have both ends of the plug on each bottle, we can plug them all into each other, or even plug something else into it. Handy.

Kitty approves


Actually he doesn’t care at all.