In Part 1 of my series on how I make Recycled Glass Wine Bottle Cheese Boards, we had just finished cleaning our wine bottles really, really, really well. What’s next? Well, first, as in any glass fusing project, you have to make sure your kiln shelf is primed. I use Hotline primer. I’ve tried both the Hot Fire and Primo variety. I haven’t made up my mind on which I like better. But I will say that the Primo primer is a lot easier to clean off the shelf. I usually get two bottle firings out of a primed shelf.
Before I put the bottles in the kiln, I put them on my work table and see if they want to roll. Unfortunately, glass wine bottles aren’t uniformly thick. I roll them to see where they stop rolling. Sometimes there are markings on the bottom of the bottle that helps me visually remember which side goes up. These can be a series of dots, or a quantity stamped into the glass. One more thing before I lay the bottle on the kiln shelf… You guessed it! I clean the bottle again. If the bottles have been sitting around, they collect dust. And having just rolled the bottle on my work table, I have to give it another quick clean. I use vinegar in a spray bottle with a lint-free dish towel. Then without getting any finger prints on the bottle I place it on my shelf. I also place a kiln post on the edge of the shelf as a precaution, just in case a bottle decides to roll.
And now for the firing schedule! You probably don’t want to hear this. I know I didn’t when I first started, but it is true. No one schedule works for every kiln, or even every bottle type. I read through all that I could find in books and on the internet about melting wine bottles. I tried all of the firing schedules I found. None of them worked well for me just as they were. I tweaked soak times, ramp rates, temperatures, and finally came up with my own schedule. Since it is nice to have a jumping off point though, here is the schedule I am currently using in my Paragon Pearl kiln.
The slow ramp up in segment 1 and 2 and the hold times are there to help minimize bubbles. Segments 4 and 5 assure me that the bottles are properly annealed.
In Part 3, I will summarize some of my other findings and lessons learned in making wine bottle cheese boards.