This is the last post in the Recycled Wine Bottle Cheese Board series. In Part 1 I wrote about preparing bottles for the kiln. In Part 2 I wrote about the firing schedule I use. In this post, I will share some of the other things I’ve learned along the way.
First, let’s talk about bubbles. While some bubbles are inevitable, I do strive to minimize them. I am still tweaking and testing my schedule to see if I can further reduce the amount of bubbles. Part of the challenge in this is that wine bottles are not all the same. Some are heavier than others, some are thicker than others. I have found that the light amber bottles are usually lighter in weight than the green bottles. These amber bottles end up with more bubbles than the heavier green ones. Up until now, I have mixed different types of bottles in the same firing. In the future I will do the amber bottles in a separate firing and try a slower ramp time, and/or longer hold time in segment two.
Some bottles will get cloudy (devitrification) no matter how well I clean them. I find this happens more often with the dark amber wine bottles.
I have the most consistent results with green cabernet bottles. These bottles have their own characteristic look. Cabernet bottles always get a bubble right below the neck. I am not a scientist, but I do have a hypothesis on why this happens. The broad shoulders of a cabernet bottle traps the air as it heats up and tries to move out of the neck. A bottle with tapered sides makes it easier for the hot air to flow out. To test this theory, I drilled a tiny hole in the shoulder of a bottle and then fired it. There was still a bubble, but it was significantly smaller. Drilling holes in the bottle to prevent this bubble is definitely not practical. Besides the bubble makes an excellent place to rest a knife on!
I’m trying out all sorts of bottles. Champagne bottles are thicker than wine bottles, and the extra weight of the glass seems to help squeeze out any air bubbles. The Champagne bottles come out great. Tequila bottles with all of their heavy embossing come out interesting. I’ve also flattened a Bombay Sapphire Gin bottle. The color is great, and it retains the botanical imprints after it is fired. I even tried a blue three-sided bottle. That one left a very long bubble in the middle. Not useful, but it was interesting to see how the air got trapped.
Please leave a comment and let me know how your wine bottles are turning out, and share any tips or tricks you might have.