Altered Bottle Workshop

Every now and then it’s good to mix things up a bit and do something a bit different. So, we recently ran a Saturday Workshop entitled “Altered Bottle”. During the lead up to this event we got lots of queries about the title. “So what is an “Altered Bottle”?” they all asked. Well, the idea was to take an old glass bottle and breathe new life in to it by way of embellishments. These took the form of as many things as we could think of with the opportunity to go off on a tangent as the ideas developed during the day. We had pre-printed labels, printed papers to make your own labels, stickers, small ribbon flowers and large ribbons to make more, a plethora of antique and modern laces, paints to colour them (and a bucket of coffee to age them!), sharpie pens to colour the ribbons etc… And beads, let’s not forget the beads! We had so many beads it was mind-boggling.

table top with a selection of fabric paints and lace

Painting lace to match a theme

Although we said that all materials were provided, students were still invited to bring in bits of their own which they did; old jewellery, stickers, papers etc. We really were spoiled for choice which is the only way to do something, in my book!

paper folded concertina style to make paper fans

demo on making paper fans


The day began with demos and literature on beading and ribbon/fabric techniques to demystify the process right from the start.

Then each student had a think about their bottle and the look they wanted to achieve. They pondered burning issues such as:

Do you want to put something inside the bottle?

Do you want to put a label on the bottle?

Do you want to paint/stain some pieces to match a colour scheme?

Do you want to focus on the front only or go all the way round?

Do you want to make/create some embellishments on the table to start and add them later?

Do you want to stick to textile items or add some hardware? wires, beads…?

a table covered with items for crafts

a selection of things to choose from

After all this brain work participants were persuaded to select all the bits and pieces they thought they might need from the main table and set it out at their own work station. They were then encouraged to place a few bits together off the bottle to decide what looked good together and what didn’t.  Once the creative juices were flowing well they got to grips with the glue, or should I say the glue got to grips with them!

 a range of items to decorate a bottle

Wendy’s selections

craft items and a glass bottle

Mary Jayne adding flowers to her bottle

table top with a selection of craft items

Leila getting to grips with her bottle

Table top with craft itmes

Another embellishment factory!

As the day progressed this we responded to inspiration in between cups of tea with cake by  undertaking such creative tasks as aging printed sheets of music with coffee in addition to the ribbons and diving into the drawers to find some man-made fabric to make some cabbage roses, using a candle to singe the edges until they curled up a little. We also hunted around in the garage for some varnish to satisfy one student’s ambitions.

gold fabric rose

Cabbage rose made from polyester fabric

white fabric rose

White cabbage rose made from polyester chiffon

decorated glass bottle

Mary Jayne’s bottle under construction

decorated glass bottle

Mary Jayne’s bottle finished














The results were amazing, as you can see from the pictures with everybody completing at least one bottle, most doing 3 or 4 and there was plenty of giggles and collaborations in the mix, too. As you can see there was a wide variety of starter bottles such as spirits, perfume and cordial bottles. You really can do this with anything that has a good shape.

The feedback was incredible with everybody asking for a repeat of the workshop again in the future.


selection of decorated bottles

A few of the completed bottles


decorated glass bottle

Maggie’s musical theme bottle


decorated glass bottle

Naya’s first bottle


decorated glass bottle

Leah’s bottle


decorated glass bottle

Leah’s bottle from the front.


decorated glass bottle

Yasmin’s bottle


decorated glass perfume bottle

Wendy’s first go – an old perfume bottle!


decorated glass bottle

Front View of another of Leah’s bottles


decorated glass bottle

Back view of Leah’s other bottle


decorated glass bottle

Naya actually stole the fan I made in the demo! Nice use of an existing label, though


Decorated Southern Comfort bottle

Other side of Naya’s Southern Comfort bottle


decorated glass bottle

Back view of Mary Jayne’s bottle


A selection of decorated glass bottles

A selection of bottles made by Naya, Leah and Yasmin