So I've been asked before, "Is Castaway Bottles a franchise?" The answer is no, but we'd be interested in spreading out across the land if you think you have an unfulfilled market in your region. Maybe you are already a terrific glass-worker but terrible with business development, or maybe you're great with the business end but an avid wine enthusiast who sees potential in this... or maybe you just want a new hobby to make occasional income at craft shows or through online avenues. Either way, we can probably help you get started! Feel free to contact us any time through our "Questions
" page if you're curious to know what it takes to get going. Or, if you simply want some opinions or you want to share success/horror stories, give us a shout regardless! Its always great to hear from others... and we'd like to hear from YOU! :)
Here are some quick insights on starting your own hobby-business, in case you're curious. (And I'm not going to begin to offer legal or tax advice here.) There are a few core things you'll need: a great name and logo, a great website, some great glass-working tools, great packaging, a lot of patience, a lot of discipline, and a lot of persistence. The good news is, every bit of that doesn't require high overhead or monthly expenses to operate. The bad news is only that it requires your time... but all businesses need that to grow and thrive.
You also have three options, in my opinion. First, you can spend about $250 in tools that'll let you produce roughly 20 bottle creations a day. Or, step up to some quality machinery for $1000(ish) and you'll be able to produce 100 upcycled masterpieces a day. Option three, by contrast, has no official price tag. Basically, it's the you-have-a-lot-of-money-and-you're-ready-for-Shark-Tank option, which could be as little as $15,000 or as much as a few hundred grand........ but by no means am I telling you to head that route. No matter which option, you'll still have marketing to contend with (tack on another $1000 for a few screen-printed bags and shirts, plus some decorative props, craft show shelving, printed literature, etc.) But your resources and needs may vary.
Here's a snippet of what the second option looks like, which is what we recommend to most people:
- Web Domain Name: hosted at Hover.com for $15 per year.
- Web Site Hosting: currently free at Weebly.com (including easy design!).
- Cutting the bottles: a 10" tile saw from Harbor Freight ($250) with glass blade ($80).
- Roughing out rare imperfections: a Power Max II 1" spindle diamond grinder ($150).
- Flattening edges: an 8" lapidary diamond grinder from Hisglassworks.com ($450).
- Deburring corners: some 3M diamond-coated "handipads" for about $30 for 3 grits.
- Shipping boxes: free from USPS with low regional rates.
- Packaging/Bags/Bubblewrap/Etc: try Uline.com, but re-used materials are free!
- Product photography: white craft paper, foamboard, and $10 spotlights... under $30.
- Phone number (bonus topic): do a search on Google Voice. (Free phone number!)
And, that's pretty much how we got started! I hope this helps to give you some insight for getting your own bottle upcycling business kickstarted in your area. Like I said, we would always be interested in branching out. Who knows, maybe you could be our next Castaway Bottles retail/production facility!
If interested, contact us for more details!
As promised, I finally made a video of our bottle cutting and grinding methods and posted it to YouTube for all to see! (Go easy on me... it's my first video!)
Curious to see how we break bottles with FIRE?!! Well, then... what are you waiting for? Check it out below!
Take a bottle, cut it in half, throw a cork-mounted candlestick holder in the top of it, and you get the above. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?! Personally, I'm excited about this new design, and I'm looking to maybe do even more variations of it. But wait, there's more!
Cut the top AND the bottom off a bottle, attach a light fixture kit to it, screw it into a recessed can light fixture... and now you have a converted pendant light in your kitchen, den, bar, or other location! Tell me that's not the coolest thing! :D
Anyway, both the items above just posted (among others) to our Etsy store, and even more will be coming online in the days ahead. We're growing! Woooooot! Also, I plan on making a video or two here soon that documents my cutting and grinding methods so others can learn some tricks of the trade. Stay tuned for that in the coming weeks. Until then, feel free to submit your ideas for custom products if you have any in mind... I'm open to fabricating all kinds of upcycled, recycled, or repurposed bottle creations!
So in doing some random Google searching, I stumbled upon a link to our site from "The Sweet Potato" on Facebook
, requesting that we, ourselves, generate a Facebook page to reach out and connect with the world. Well... you're right, Sweet Potato. We should definitely do that. :) And because of your request, we are throwing the switch to make it live even as I type this message! (Courtesy of my willing and supportive wife, who is now officially in charge of that end of the internet spectrum, while meanwhile I continue to maintain the blog and webstore ends of the spectrum... and cut bottles, of course!)
I'm told it is live and active at this very moment in fact, so without further ado, check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/CastawayBottles
Sweet Potato, thank you for seeking us out and making the recommendation!
Meanwhile, here is a glimpse of some of the latest painting experiments we're toying with in the lab:
Well, it's been a long year packed with all sorts of adventures, but it's time to re-open shop for some more bottle cutting runs, just in time for the holidays! Woohoo!!!
Earlier this year, I spent the greater part of my time helping to plan an amazing wedding with my amazing fiance, which budded into a beautiful outdoor June wedding. Since then, my wife and I have enjoyed our initial honeymoon period, completed an epic home makeover task list, and now we're finally slowing down while simultaneously gearing up for hobby mode once again. What an amazing year it has been! (I love you so much, Brittany!)
As such, get ready to see a full plethora of products on our Etsy store following this weekend's first production runs after I fire up the grinders one more time! I also have a new HD camera that I'll attempt to use for making some video how-to's plus some featured product videos once I get a good stock of inventory again. Until then, I'll share with you an amazing photo of our amazing wedding several months ago, shot by Cara Pagan of Simplicity By Cara
I have begun to notice an increasing trend in bottle upcycling since last year. With certainty, there are some increasingly-clever ways to use bottles for things that I've never even thought of before. I remember when I first found a passion for this back in April(ish) of 2010 because of a YouTube clip from Green Power Science showing how easy and simple it was to cut glass bottles using nothing but a little scratch and a hot trickle of water. I was amazed at that, but ever since then I've come to refine the process with little tips and tricks I've discovered on my own. Then I had great success at a pair of local craft shows, and I really thought this was something amazing that I was doing... but I've sinced refined my views on this, too. It's actually something amazing that YOU are doing. Let me explain.
First, the fact that you are reading this means you're interested in the idea of upcycled glass bottles. It intrigues you, or you wouldn't be here. (Am I right?) And the fact that you are interested, or you buy one of my bottles, or you're simply here to learn how I do it or what can be done with discarded glass, etc... that makes you an amazing person. You're after something unique. You have great taste in innovation. You want to do something great for the environment by saving glass from landfills and reducing wastes, etc. Or you just want to share with me your ideas and concepts because of similar passions we share.
That, in and of itself, sets you apart from many people out there... and in my eyes, it makes you amazing. :)
And now you are writing in. (You, the collective masses viewing the site.) You're telling me about how you do it, or you're asking me how I do it. Or you're simply sharing some of your creations with me for enlightenment. I'm blown away by that!
One of you (Ron) recently sent me a YouTube link
illustrating how an old record player "turntable" can be used to cut (and fire polish!) the glass bottles. Granted, I don't do fire polishing because I work with so many paper labels... but I might just give his idea a try. Thanks for the video, Ron! In fact, I wanted to take this a step further and reduce my energy footprint even more. I've been thinking lately about the turntable concept... and what else spins like that... for long periods of time... and without any power... and then it dawned on me: A potter's wheel! In pottery, the kickwheel is used to throw clay pots, but it could just as easily be used for spinning and fire-cutting a bottle! Even better, now imagine how energy-neutral it would be to use that concept for grinding glass. Instead of using small motorized diamond drums, it could be diamond drums attached to heavy kick wheels to keep the momentum going strong enough through the finishing stages of each bottle. One day, maybe next year, I want to build me one of these. And when I do, I'll share my plans with all of you so you can do it too.
Speaking of, here's another awesome use for bottles that was shared with me recently from a great woman named Darlene. Her family has an Italian Restaurant, and with so many bottles, she decided to make a garden wall out of them. I've seen bottle walls before, but not quite like this! Darlene, you too are amazing for your innovation, and don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise. :D
And to everyone else out there, don't stop sending me your amazing thoughts and ideas! I really enjoy it!
There you have it, folks! I present to you Castaway Bottles' first ever poured candle!
Wow, I didn't know how cool it would be to work with melted wax. The idea was inspired by a request from Rachel Schemmerling over at Timeless Interiors, LLC of Clinton, Connecticut. She's a new vendor of ours specializing in consignment items such as beautiful home decor, furniture and magnificent artisan accent pieces, which now includes some of Castaway Bottles, too! (You rock, Rachel!) Check out her website at www.decoratetimeless.com
We have a lot of "leftover" byproducts from our upcycling process that we could quite easily make a fleet of candles real soon. After I finish the finessing of wax-pouring, I'll likely start upcycling a lot of old wax candles to make this an even greener product, as I hate to see anything go to waste! There's always a new purpose for everything if you just put your mind to it. Who knows? Maybe this will pave the way to a whole new product line... Castaway Candles from Upcycled Wax!
So I'm excited that we were able to take on our first custom 10-piece order from Etsy.com for a very special occasion all the way up in the New York area. (Details omitted to avoid ruining a special surprise for said client's intendee, so *shhh*). Anyway, I hope to be able to post a photo or two of the outcome of the bottle arrangement we shipped recently for this particular client, because she was great to work with and I'm sure her new Castaway Bottles are going to look just wonderful at this particular event! More on that later.
Meanwhile, I thought I'd post a photo of our product packaging that we've developed a knack for over the last year. It's 100% biodegradable, inexpensive, strong, "minimalist," and even sports a hand-made hang tag all at the same time. This 100% recycled cardboard wrap safely shields our finished glass products inside, suspended between two "endcaps" of 100% recycled paper wadding, all sealed with a natural strand of sisal twine on the outside to keep it closed securely. Not only does it do a wonderful job of projecting the glass, but it makes for a terrific, eco-friendly gift wrap as well!
We just got an email from a proud customer showing us how they decorated one of our upcycled bottles and set it out for display in their home! Thanks, guys, for your support!
Wow, what a winter, aye?! I'd say that's the most snow I've seen in twenty years!
Now that everything has melted and we're getting into springtime temperatures, we'll soon resume uploading more bottles to our Etsy store. In the meantime, here is a photo of one of our bottle chimes, submitted from a lovely admirer of our works: