A bottle wall is a wall made out of glass bottles and binding material. This is a building construction style which usually uses glass bottles (although mason jars, glass jugs, and other glass containers may be used also) as masonry units and binds them using adobe, sand, cement, stucco, clay, plaster, mortar or any other joint compound. This results in an intriguing stained-glass like wall.
Although they are for show, they are as functional as they are beautiful. Glass bottles have been around for a long time, they are abundant and are durable. People have collected them for various reasons. However for a natural builder the most desirable use for bottles has been to build a bottle wall.
Instead of seeing a brick wall structure, more and more glass bottle walls are being constructed. Embedding bottles in a wall creates a really stunning effect, especially when sunlight shines through bottles of different colors. There are people that have almost made their entire houses out of old, glass bottles and the effect is spectacular.
The Glass-Cutting Process
Cutting the glass bottles, if you prefer to only use half of each bottle or the very bottom for a thinner wall, is the most time-consuming part of building a glass bottle wall. There are a few techniques to do this, for example a bottle cutter uses a sharp wheel to create an even score around the bottle, the same could be accomplished, although it is less accurate, with a diamond tipped glass cutter, but this alone won’t be enough to cut the glass.
The trick is to heat the score line with a propane torch or similar heat source, then dunk the bottle in cold water or run the score line over a block of ice. The stress of the rapid cooling will snap the glass safely and create a very sharp edge. Use an angle grinder or a piece of high-grit sandpaper to take the edge off so no one is cut by touching the glass in your wall.
There are various other techniques available such as using a wet stone or tile cutting saw. However results vary and it largely depends on personal preference as to which technique is most suited.
Building a wall
When you start building it is important to plan the arrangement, draw in detail how you will arrange your bottles in your wall. You will especially need to do this if your bottles are of different sizes and shapes. How you will place the bottles is important to the look and overall design and strength.
Glass bottle walls can be built using a variety of binding agents, the type of mortar you will use should be determined by the requirements of the wall in regard to strength and climatic influences.
Take your finish into consideration as you may want to apply a finishing plaster over your wall so it may be necessary to leave the bottles protruding while you are constructing to allow a flush and smooth finish of the wall.