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Making Bottles of Hope
By Kim Kennedy and Diane Black
This is a tutorial on how to make Bottles of Hope (BOH). As many steps as possible have been included to be sure every clayer understands the entire process. If you would like to make a bottle for someone with a specific type of cancer, there is a list of the colors representing types of cancer at the bottom of this page.

Next month, we will present a gallery of new Bottles of Hope along with a short story of how a BOH touched the family of a patient and the BOH maker. If you would like to be included, (and we would love to include all of you) please send an email to: BOH@pcPolyzine.com.

Here is Diane's advice for removing the tops from medicine bottles.
These images are full size.
A sample of what
some of the bottles
will look like when
you receive them.
Note the bottles on
the left have had
labels removed.


I found that the injection bottles which had rubber stoppers covered partially by a metal rim could be pried off with pliers. Some were a tad more difficult than others, but I just had to experiment a bit. I found that even using ordinary pliers, most metal rims could be removed by using a slow, prying motion, rather than opening like a glass beer bottle,
as shown in image, upper right.

What worked best for me was to turn the bottle "upside down" and then put the top pliers jaw under the bottom rim, then pry slowly but firmly (rather than opening it like a glass beer bottle right side up). Occasionally I had to try several spots around the rim, but not often. 

Afterward, I dropped the bottles and stoppers or caps into hot soapy water, stirred well with the end of a spoon, then let them sit awhile. Each one was rinsed out separately later, and left to dry overnight. (Now I use a colander inside a large cheap plastic bowl so that I can lift them out repeatedly and rinse without even having to use my hands.) 

The labels on all the glass bottles I had pulled off easily after one corner was raised with a fingernail (a spoon tip works well if you don't have a thumbnail). The label on the plastic Heparin bottle was definitely more difficult, but I hadn't soaked it very long. 
I don't think the labels actually need to be removed, but it's nice to start with a clean surface.

Diane has more tips at her Glass Attic website.

Kim's tutorial on covering the bottle.
click on images to see larger versions
Lay clean bottle on a sheet of scrap clay and trim to fit. Cut so that the edges meet cleanly, with no overlap. Roll bottle all the way over clay then roll back. You will see the line to cut. Butt seams together and smooth with fingers or handle of needle tool. Rock fingers gently from left to right, over seam line so they stick together well. With blade or craft knife, cut V-shaped notches around neck of bottle. Cut just enough out so that clay fits neatly around smaller neck and opening. Begin to ease notches together. Check all sides to see if clay is pulling. I usually cut three notches.
Gently pinch notches together to fit around neck and bottle opening. Smooth with fingers or handle of metal tool. Use handle of tool (I'm using a needle tool) to roll up and down between neck and bottle to retain shape. Lay bottle on work surface. With blade held even to top of bottle, trim excess. Cut thin slices of background color. Here I've used a layered slab of green striped clay. If using plain clay, cover as shown in first steps.
Run slices through pasta machine at thin setting. I used #4. If you don't have a pm, roll out with brayer or acrylic rod or rolling pin. Keep as uniform thickness as possible. Begin laying on slices to cover scrap clay. Trim edges as closely as possible to avoid overlap. If clay is patterned, try to keep seams in one area of bottle. Use scraps to fill in gaps. Here, I happened to have a piece that fit perfectly. Use fingers and tool handles to smooth seams and spread clay evenly.