I spent all summer drinking “Relax” wine. Not because I love it, but because I love the blue bottles. It is inexpensive, ubiquitous, reasonably palatable, and the bottles are a beautiful blue. I finally started to use the bottles this past weekend to create a unique light up Christmas village to display. This is a fun DIY that can be done in an afternoon. But does require a little patience and spare wine bottles.
Materials for the Christmas village:
- Wine bottle cutter (I used Ephrem’s Wine Bottle Cutter)
- bucket of ice water
- polishing paper
- 4 empty wine bottles plus extras
- frosted film (I used Jim Holtz idea-ology)
- transfer tape (strong grip worked well for the frosted film)
- X-acto knife
- cutting mat
- a Christmas Village Template (I used this one from JenniferMaker.com. You can download it free from her site and see lots of other cool projects).
- Optional: Dremel with sanding attachment, Cricut or cutting machine
How to cut the wine bottles:
This definitely requires some practice. You should do this several times on practice bottles before you try it on the bottles you want to use for the Christmas village. I recommend that you read the full directions on your bottle cutter kit and watch a few videos before you try this.
The basic steps are:
- Score the bottle in a fluid motion around the outside.
- Heat with a candle around the score mark. I turn the bottle at a slow steady space several times to thoroughly heat it.
- Plunge it into the bucket of ice water. This is where I diverge from the Ephrem instructions, which recommend rubbing an ice cube on the fracture line. I like the ice bucket method, as I don’t need to worry about part of the bottle falling and breaking.
- If the bottle doesn’t split on my first plunge, I will reheat it and then plunge again.
- After your bottles are cut, you will need to sand the sharp edges. I started with a 120 grit sanding drum on my dremel and then switched to the polishing paper that came with my glass cutting kit.
After you have perfected your cutting on your practice bottles, you are ready for your real bottles. I scored the bottom of the bottles at slightly different heights (see image below) to create some visual interest for the village. That said, you don’t have to even cut the bottles at all, if you prefer them to be the same height. However, you may want to drill a hole in them to add in the fairy lights.
Adding the Christmas Village
Now comes the fun part –adding the Christmas village. You can of course design your own, but there are lots of templates online. I downloaded this one from JenniferMaker.com. If you have a cricut or silhouette you can let the machine do the hard work for you of cutting out the village. However, if you don’t you can still do this project! It may just take a little longer.
Whichever, method you choose you need to determine the scale of the village. I recommend that you only put a building on one side of the bottle. This is a little easier to get smooth and you don’t need to worry about the slight gaps in the frosted film that are created when you go over the wine bottles side seams. In order to determine the height of your design, measure from the bottom of the bottle to just below where it begins to curve in. My designs went higher on the bottle then the curve and it made things tricky when I was smoothing the paper.
Once you have determined the height, if you are using a cutting machine, I recommend cutting a test village on plain paper and placing on the bottle to see if you like the size. If you are using the pattern from Jennifer Maker, you will need to use an Xacto knife, a ruler and a cutting mat to carefully cut the house from each other. I set my Cricut material to window cling and that seemed to cut perfectly. After the design is cut remove (weed) the excess material from the design and then transfer with transfer tape (I used strong grip). When you transfer, be careful to start at one side of the design and smooth out all of the bubbles. If you get a trapped bubble, you can prick with a pin and then smooth again.
Cutting the village by hand:
If you are cutting the village by hand, you should start by printing the design at the size that works for your bottles. Once printed hold up to the bottles to verify the size before cutting out your village. I also recommend that you pare down the design if cutting by hand. Perhaps omit some windows to make the design easier. After you have sized the village, follow the steps below:
- Use masking tape to attach your village print out to a window.
- Then place your frosted film on top with the film side against the window (you will be looking at the back).
- Trace the outline of the buildings onto the back of your film.
- Remove the film and with scissors or an xacto knife cut out the building outlines.
- Remove the film backing and carefully place the film onto your wine bottles. Begin smoothing on one side, being careful to press out air bubbles. A credit card works well as a smoothing tool.
- Now that your design is secured to the bottle, you can cut out additional details like windows and doors. Again, simple is better.
- You can either freehand the cuts or carefully tape your paper template on top of the film that is attached to the wine bottle. Then with your xacto knife cut through the paper and the film to add in details.
- After you have made the cuts, carefully remove the unwanted bits of window film to reveal your design.
The final touches
This village looks best, when lit from the inside. You can either use fairy lights and carefully put inside each bottle or you can use LED candles. Do NOT use real candles as it will overheat the bottle and may cause cracking at the top. This would look really cute on top of some faux snow or set up in a window. If you are looking for other fun DIY upcycle projects, check out our toilet roll bee wreath!