bottle lantern upcycled

How to make: upcycled decorative bottle lantern

Are you looking for the “special atmosphere” for your next romantic evening or dinner party? I show you how to magically turn an old glass bottle into a beautiful, decorative bottle lantern.


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I was looking for a tutorial that fits for winter and summer and these glass bottle lanterns were on my list for a long time. I love the simplicity and, of course, the fact that they are upcycled wine bottles.

Upcycling is like recycling, just better. You can do it yourself and get a wonderful, handcrafted piece for almost no money. Upcycling is not a new concept, our grand parents already used upcycling to turn old items into new useful ones.


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Everyone has empty wine bottles somewhere close by, especially here in South Africa, home of extraordinary wines. So instead of throwing them away (who does that?) or taking them to the recycling (better, but still needs a lot of energy) you can create eco friendly lanterns that bathe your special evening in atmospheric light.

So if you want to save money and do something good for the environment, start collecting these dark green or brown glass bottles.

You need:

bottle lanterns material

  • glass bottles without labels e.g. wine bottles (I found this post helpful for removing labels – I actually ended up making my own washing soda, see this post)
  • whatever you need to cut the bottles
  • flat stones
  • sanding paper (one rough, one smooth)
  • plate
  • tea light candles


First I must admit, that I haven’t found THE method to cut bottles with yet. I recently used a bottle cutter, before I tried the method with the burning string and ice water (check on youtube for all the tutorials). Neither worked completely satisfying, sometimes even not at all.

But I got a few good cuts, so I want to share the outcome with you.


  1. Cut the bottle approx. 12 cm / 4 ½″ under the neck. Please wear protective glasses and gloves.
    bottle lantern scoring
    I got cuts that are a bit uneven, but still go all the way round without any cracks (see image). I like it that way, the glass looks more organic and natural that way.upcycled bottle lanterns 12bottle lantern cut
  2. Put the sanding paper on the plate, add some water. Start sanding the rough edge with circular motion of the bottle on the sanding paper. Make sure you smooth all the rough edges.bottle lantern sanding
  3. Choose the right stone for each bottle lantern, depending on their uneven surfaces. Place a tea light candle under the bottle lantern. Done.bottle lantern finished
  4. Have a wonderful, special evening with your new eco friendly, upcycled bottle lantern!

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I am amazed what you can make out of old wine bottles and I will still explore methods to cut them perfectly. If you have a working method, please share it with me. I have a whole lot of wine bottles waiting…


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