Saturday, January 12, 2013


In the winter of 2011, while shopping, a string of LED lights caught my eye because they were bottle-shaped, in an almost perfect scale.  I didn't purchase any at the time but they stayed in the back of my mind.  This year we needed some replacement lights for outdoors and my husband brought home the wrong size…but to my delight they were the exact same shape as the ones I had seen the year before….only a smaller string and less expensive.  Which meant I could justify experimenting with ease and I did….It was fun to see a little project I had in the back of my mind for over a year come to life with ease

I had wanted to get this project out to you as an apropos New Year’s Eve themed project but the holidays were just so filled that miniatures had to take a back seat.  So rather than waiting yet another year to show you these darling bottles, here they are

The only difficult part of this project for you will probably be locating the exact lights but some stores still offer after holiday sales (at better prices) and there are also stores, especially online, that sell Christmas items all year long.  I bought both plain white and multi-colored (green, yellow, red, blue) strings.  Have to confess here, after seeing how well the finished items looked, I bought several of each.   I know I will be using the pieces I make from them for many projects

So, good luck hunting down the lights, your search will be worth the time involved.  And if you can not find these bottle lights now, there is always next Christmas season…and the way retailers seem to work, that is probably not that far off.


Many of you have seen and tried my many projects that involve turning Lite-Brite pegs and acrylic rods into bottles and glassware but for those that have not, and just in case you are unable to find the bottle lights used here until the next holiday season, I will be including the bottle DIY for both Lite Brite Pegs and acrylic rods.

+++ The Lite Brite Peg/acrylic rod instructions are now included at the end of this post ++++


The first thing to do is remove the bottles from the lights….a quick tug should work.

A fine-tooth razor saw and a matching miter box are used to cut the bottles to size.

The bottles have a textured surface, which is an interesting look, but for some pieces you may want a smoother surface.  To obtain this, simply file/sand the bottle’s sides (emery boards work well here) until the desired finish is accomplished.  Don’t worry about clouding up the finish as a coat of clear nail polish will fix this.  (If you have a Dremel tool and buffing attachments they will also return the finish to a gloss).  Leaving the sanded sides as is will give your bottles a frosted-glass look.

A sharp, pointed blade X-acto knife is used to ream out the insides of the pieces as needed.

Assorted sizes of round paper punches are used to punch rounds from sheet acrylic (look to scraps of blister pack or other heavy plastic packaging ) to create bottoms for glasses.

E-600 glue is used to adhere parts together.

Sharpie Permanent Marker Pens and/or nail polish (white, black and metallic’s) were used to color tops of bottles and to tint acrylic sheeting for glass bottoms as needed.

 Label images are printed onto bright white paper using best settings.  They are adhered to bottles with a smooth coating of Crafter’s Pick Ultimate glue. If desired they may then be painted with a coat of clear nail enamel (do test your printer ink’s compatibility with the enamel before applying to bottle).


 For large 

BOTTLES:  For large bottles, use a fine-toothed saw to remove the lower, smooth section of the bottle.  For shorter bottles, saw to desired height.  File/sand the bottoms smooth.  If the almost invisible side seams bother you, scrape them away with an X-acto knife.  If you want a smoother-sided bottle, file/sand the sides all around.  Leave as is for a frosted look or coat with clear nail enamel or buff to a sheen.

The actual label is smaller than this image.

Carefully cut out a label printie and adhere to bottle, placed as desired, with a light coating of a tacky-type glue that is compatible with plastic.  You may want to get creative and design your own personalized labels…these make fun gifts for friends in miniature.  Note: For a Christmas gift I designed a personalized label for a non-miniature friend and glued them to two bottles.  I drilled holes in the tops of the two bottles, inserted pronged jump rings into the holes with E-600 and then attached hook earwires.  She loved her “designer” earrings!  When time allows I am going to create a charm bracelet.

 SMALL TUMBLERS:  These are made from the bottom sections of the bottles that were removed.  Use an X-acto knife edge  to ream out the inside of the glass-to be until desired thickness is achieved….the thinner the walls the better.   Note: You will find it much easier to prepare them before they are removed from the bottles because you will have more to hold on to and not have to worry about the blade extending out the bottom of the piece.  Sand or scrap the cut edges smooth.

MEDIUM-SIZE GLASSES:  As seen, these are cut to include the smooth bottom section of the bottles and approx. 1/8” of the decorative section.  The inside walls are reamed out as, the tops and bottom prepared as described above, for the small tumblers.


TALL GLASSES:  Cut the bottom section of the bottle off just at the seam between the two sections…this will leave you with a slightly rounded and closed bottom.  Cut it from the bottle at a 3/8” height.   Sand the bottom smooth and check to see if the glass sits straight, making any adjustments needed by filing.  Ream out the inside walls as described for tumblers.  Use clear nail enamel to gloss the insides.


STEMMED GLASSES:  Cut a ½” long section of the bottles, measuring down from the top of the tip.  Ream out insides as described above.  Sand the top edges smooth and the rounded tip flat.  For bottom of stems, punch out a 3/16” round from clear or colored to match, sheet acrylic.  Using E-600, glue the bottoms centered, evenly to the tips, making sure the glasses are sitting straight.  You may find it easier to center the bottoms if you mark the center with a tiny dot.  Treat with clear acrylic as desired or leave as is for a frosted-glass look.


.Shortly, hereafter, I will be adding the instructions, etc. for using Lite Brite Pegs and acrylic rods to create bottles….stay tuned.
+++ As Promised +++


Note:  Some of the photos are scanned from older photos so are not the best quality but they should get the “message” across.

From Strawberry Fields Forever, June 2004

Insert the large end of a red Lite-Brite peg into a variable-speed electric drill.  Hold the drill so the peg sits upside down on a flat surface; set the drill on a slow speed, in your other hand , hold a Dremel MultiPro rotary tool fitted with a drum sander to shape the peg as shown.  Keep the revolutions of the tools slow so that heat does not build up and soften the peg.  When the desired shape has been achieved, smooth the peg with fine-grained sandpaper (or buff attachment on Dremel) as it rotates on the drill.  Release the peg from the drill.  Place the piece in a miter box and with a fine-toothed razor saw cut the top and bottom off to achieve size shown.  If you are planning on turning numerous bottles, strap the drill down to a flat surface.

Use clear nail enamel to touch up any dull places on the bottle caused by the tools.  Punch a 1/8” round lid from white illustration board.  Glue lid to the to of the bottle and a label to the side.
From Canning Time, September 2003

Cut Lite-Brite Pegs (look for the game replacement pegs at toy/game or 2nd hand shops)in the desired color to desired height with a fine toothed razor saw.  Use red for raspberry, dark pink for strawberry, and purple for grape.  Cut or sand the pegs rounded bottoms smooth and flat.  For jar lids, punch out rounds of gold, silver or glossy white cardstock.  Sandwich two rounds together with glue and adhere to jar top.  Add labels as desired.

From The Coffee Pot Espresso Stand, 2007


The bottle are formed from sections of ¼” diameter plastic rods purchased from Tap Plastics ( or 1-800-246-5055 for mail order.  Store fronts in WA, Or, CA  in USA)  sells acrylic ¼” diameter acrylic rods.  They come in opaque white, fluorescent re-pink and translucent yellow, green, blue, red, blue, purple, clear.  Tap will cut these 6ft. long rods shorter for you for easier mailing.  Note:  This can be a fun group project, purchasing one-each of the colors and sharing rods and cost.   You may also look to found acrylic/plastic items to shape, such as large knitting needles, utensil handles, etc.
SET TO PRINT AT 1.29"W X 1.67"H
Using the bottle pattern, or your own, as a guide, cut sections of the rod to length with a razor saw.  Insert the cut pieces into a variable speed drill.  With the drill turned on to about a medium speed use various tools, like a Dremel Moto tool with assorted attachments, and or hand carving tools, craft knives, assorted files, and medium grade sand paper to shape the rod to shape desired.  As you experiment with shaping the pieces you will probably find tools that work best to do the job for you.

For some reason or other I like to hold my drill in my lap as I shape the piece but you may feel more comfortable with it on a table top fitted with a non-skid surface such as a mouse pad or you could hold it in place with tape.  Note:  If you plan on doing many of the bottles or for long tern use you can come up with a strap gizmo to hold the drill in place. 

Your first shapes may be a bit wonky but it doesn’t take long to get the procedure down and a rhythm set.  You may also notice that different colors of the rods cut differently.  When the shape pleases you and all is smooth, remove the bottle from the drill.  Use sandpaper to very slightly round-off the bottom edge.  Make sure the piece stands straight and make any needed corrections with sandpaper.  Amy dullness of the acrylic may be buffed out using a buffing attachment on a Dremel tool or may simple be coated with clear nail enamel.  


From Harvesttime, A Fresh Produce Stand.
 Septemeber 2000

The bottles of honey are carved from amber-colored Lite Brite pegs (from the Halsbro Children’s toy; loose packages of these multicolored plastic pegs are often found at thrift stores and refill packs are available at toy stores).  Place the peg in a drill and with the drill turning at a low speed, use various tools to shape the area between the two sections so it is smoothly tapered. Remove the peg and sand the large end of the peg until it is flat….this will be the bottom of the jar.  Place the peg in a miter box and using a razor saw, cut off the top of the peg so the remainder is approx. 5/8” high.  If the “jar is dull, paint with clear nail enamel.  Add a 3/16 round, punched from glossy cardboard for the lid.

SET TO PRINT AT 1.99"W X 1.28"H
Also check out other blog posts herein for other ideas:   Bottle of Molasses in SUGAR & SPICE Part 2, Dec. 2010; Cleaning supply in May 2011 Creative Minds are Seldom Tidy:  Glasses of juice in Your Invited to a Valentine Party, Feb. 2011.
Even if you can't find the Christmas Tree Lights right now, this should keep you busy making bottles & jars with materials you can find or may have on hand.  Have fun and let us know how this works for you.