Bottles and Bunches

All those bottles I spent an afternoon cleaning a while back? A good many of theme have now met their destiny as centerpieces and table numbers.

First were the table “numbers,” (actually names, specifically wine names), made up of a wine bottle filled with burgundy beads and topped with a paper-flower topiary. On each side of the bottle is the same viney frame I drew for our Save the Date cards around the wine name; nice, simple, and to the point. Even though we’ll only have six tables in a U-shape and a seating chart at the door (making table numbers or name rather superfluous), these were one of the first decor items I knew I wanted, so I stuck with then anyway.

I think the beads inside the bottles look a little bit like bubbles!
I think the beads inside the bottles look a little bit like bubbles!

As I was putting them together I realized that at the top of each bottle there was a necessary gap between where the beads ended and the stem of the topiary (which will keep it in the bottle in case the glue fails) meets them that looks just all kinds of ugly. So I took that same viney frame, popped our names and wedding date inside, and then made a quick logo of our initials and created a repeating pattern in Illustrator of it. Cut into 2 1/2″ x 5″ strips it made the perfect stand-in for the usual foil that wraps this same space.

Since we went with rectangular tables, a single centerpiece wouldn’t quite do. And while I love the look of a continuous arrangement down the center of the table, I also didn’t want to end up crowding the table too much. Instead, on either side of the table number, will be a cluster of elements, both bottle and otherwise.

jwalker_ttb_centerpiece cluster

The full bottle is a lot like the table numbers (without the topiary) only this time instead of wine names we inserted fun trivia from the years we’ve lived. After all, one of the fun things I first learned about Mr. Road Trip was that he was born the same year the original Star Trek series first aired. So we went from there, finding what information we could between sites like and looking up the dates some of our favorite movies were released. It seemed like a good way to include our “very good year” timeline idea from our Save the Dates as well as give our guests something to talk about, should they notice the little fun facts.

Not all were successful, but most cut fairly straight.
Not all were successful, but most cut fairly straight.

I spent an afternoon cutting some of the cleaned wine bottles so that they could be used in various pieces and parts in the centerpieces and other decorations. The cutter I purchased (Generation Green G2 Bottle Cutter) suggested dipping the scored bottles in hot then cold water to create the break, but that never worked–not even a crack. Next I remembered seeing something about using a candle flame to heat the score, then the cold water to stress the glass. That worked a little, but not well (the first half cracked well enough, and then went nowhere). And then when the air conditioner kicked on it started to work against my efforts. Finally I went to the web and found the same video that Mrs. Pain au Chocolat found using the tea kettle and tap water method and it worked like a charm (providing my score lines were correct–something that takes a bit of practice, I learned).

I had to set up an extra workstation in our library--no such thing as too many flat surfaces!
I had to set up an extra workstation in our library (aka the repurposed dining room)–no such thing as too many flat surfaces!

The bottom halves of some of the bottles serve as “vases” of a sort, filled with excelsior and topped with faux grape cluters. A couple things I learned on this one: don’t buy your grape clusters from the craft store (where they charge anything from 3-8 dollars per cluster), head straight to your nearest Dollar Tree and you’ll likely find a bin of them for the predictable $1 each. It takes about a cluster and a half to top a wine bottle vase and they should be secured with GOOP-style craft glue. Noxious stuff, but according to, the best option for securing pretty much anything to glass clearly. (No, hot glue isn’t recommended for this.) It also takes about an hour to set up, so I used painter’s tape to hold things in place while the glue dried.

Emery paper, a little water, and a movie on Netflix easily gets through a dozen bottle edges.
Emery paper, a little water, and a movie on Netflix easily gets through a dozen bottle edges.

Finally (or so I thought) the top halves of the bottles will round off the trio with an electric tea light inside to add some flickering atmosphere. I did sand these down a bit with emery paper (different than regular sand paper and not the same as emery cloth used for metal, either, though we did try that last one in a pinch) just enough that I wouldn’t have to worry about someone cutting themselves during set-up. They don’t all stand 100% straight and I’m somewhat surprised at myself for not caring that much. My OCD-ish tendencies must be taking a day off, is all I can figure.

That looks better--and what's that peeking out from the back, there?
That looks better–and what’s that peeking out from the back, there?

Of course, when I put the three pieces together I realized that the grape-topped vases needed a little bit more height. Guess it’s time to add one more project to the centerpieces before calling them done!

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