Even a light wind can ruin your candlelit outdoor dinner. To successfully have a candlelit dinner outdoors (whether you’re roughing it or just being romantic), what you need for each candle is a cloche that serves as a windbreak while still letting in oxygen.
Fortunately, that type of cloche is as easy to come by as the wine bottle at your elbow!
This is a super quick and easy project, if you’ve got the right supplies. You will need:
- empty wine bottle. Feel free to experiment with sizes here, upgrading to growlers or gallon jugs to make larger cloches–a gallon jug cloche is large enough to also shield food from pesky pests.
- permanent marker and measuring tools.
- Dremel with diamond bit cut-off wheel.
- goggles and a dust mask. Safety first!
1. Remove the labels from your wine bottles. If you have plenty of time, you can use my method for cleaning old glass bottles, namely, a hot vinegar soak followed by some gentle scrubbing, to more easily remove the labels from your wine bottles. If you’re crunched for time, however, you can get by with warm water, dish soap, a non-abrasive scrubby, and plenty of elbow grease. It sucked, but I got all the labels off of these bottles in less than half an hour:
2. Mark a cutting line on the bottle. All you need to do is cut off the bottom and top of your bottle to make the cloche, but getting a perfectly level line all the way around is annoyingly trickier than it looks. One day I’ll buy myself a set of calipers, but until then, wrap a measuring tape around the bottle and adjust it, with the help of a ruler, until it’s level:
When the measuring tape is level all the way around, use it to trace a line in Sharpie directly onto the bottle. This will be your cutting line, and whatever of the marker still remains afterward can easily be wiped away with rubbing alcohol or sanded away when you smooth the cloche’s edges.
3. Cut the bottom off of each wine bottle using a Dremel with a diamond-bit cutting wheel. There are hundreds of tutorials for bottle cutting online, most of which rely on some sort of method to etch the bottle, then physical force or a temperature change to crack it along the etching line. These methods all fail too often to be worth it. Instead, buy or borrow a Dremel with a diamond-bit cutting wheel, and check out how quick and easy bottle cutting really can be:
See, doesn’t that look nice?
You also need to cut the neck off of each wine bottle, or your candle won’t get enough oxygen to stay lit. This cutting line doesn’t have to be perfect like the bottom line, which determines how straight your cloche stands, so you can just eyeball your Sharpie line. The cut is much quicker, too–yay!
Discard the bottle top and bottom, sand down the edges with regular old sandpaper, and what’s left is a useful wine bottle cloche. For the best results, make sure that your candle is shorter than the top edge of the cloche.
Feel free to play around with embellishing your cloche to make a luminary, making decorative cuts to the bottle’s top edge, or choosing particular bottle colors for particular effects, etc.
Need more ideas?
Here’s a terrarium made from a gallon jug!
Here’s a tiny cloche made from a glass!