We’ve been working on our second most complicated wall, after the bathroom-bedroom partition. This one too is in the bathroom and it also serves many functions. Folding a lot of things into a small space makes it complicated, hand crafted and slow to build. It is worth it though because the wall will do what we need, beyond holding up the ceiling, and it will be there for a long time. Holly assures me that it is worth the effort when I have occasional doubts and wonder if I’m slowing things down too much with my complicated design features.
The lower area of the wall is made of the bottoms of glass bottles. Originally I had wanted to use glass blocks, then I found out how much they cost. Nix that. At the local pub I saw they were throwing out, to the recycler, large numbers of beautifully colored glass wine and liquor bottles. Upon inquiring I found these were available so we’ve been collecting crates and crates of bottles.
I wasn’t clear on how I would use them but it seemed there should be a good way to make an elegant wall with all this colorful glass. For our first tests I made the bottle wall in the dog house. The results, while simple, were pleasing. So onward ho! The first bottle wall in the tiny cottage is shown at the top of this post with the western sun streaming through the glass as viewed from the bathtub to be.
The first problem was removing the labels. Many of them came off easily by soaking in water but some use a waterproof adhesive. For those we found citrus cleaner concentrate, made from orange peels, to be excellent. In both cases a steel spatula helped.
To cut the bottles we used an Ephrem’s bottle cutter which uses a scoring wheel. The instructions said to use a candle to stress the score and then an ice cube to restress it causing it to crack on the score line. This was rather slow.
My son Will figured out a much better way. We batch scored the bottles and then use a blow torch to heat the bottles along the scores. After heating each bottle all the way around the score we dipped it in a five gallon plastic bucket of water up to just above the score. The bottle cracked neatly and safely inside the bucket each time.
The resulting edges of the cut bottle are quite sharp, glass sharp in fact. At first we took off the edge using the emory paper that came with the bottle cutter but again, there was a better way. An angle grinder with an abrasive pad very quickly smoothed down the bottles and took off any odd break nubs caused by the scoring not being perfect. Then a quick rub with the emory paper and a dip in a bucket of water finished each bottle bottom.
Do where safety equipment. I would suggest not just earphones and glasses but a full face shield and long pants & a long sleeved shirt. The grinder shoots slivers of glass all over the place. Also work in a place that it won’t matter if there are some glass slivers or use a wide tarp. Gloves would be a good idea too although Holly, above, did fine without them.
Building the wall was easy, like mortaring up a brick wall but with really big mortar joints. I started by laying down a bed of mortar on the base granite stone. Into the soft mortar I laid each of the glass bottle bottoms. I mortared between them. I did just two layers at a time and then pressed a piece of pink foam against one side so I could adjust all the bottles to the same plane. After letting that cured a little I progressed onto the next two layers. Above the top layer of mortar I’ll place another sheet of granite which will become the base of the bathroom planter.
After completing the wall I raked between the bottles to reduce the width of the mortar and clean up the glass. This step is very important as the whole mortaring process was quite messy. Start at the top and work downward. As I learned tomorrow, Muric Acid (HCL) does a wonderful job of final cleanup.
In the back is a PVC pipe. This is a vent pipe from the bottom and top of the toilet stall area that leads up, through the utility room and then eventually it will go out to a stack to ventilate the bathroom. Using stack effect (but with a backup fan) this pipe will draw air out of the toilet stall which thus draws air out of the bathroom which thus draws air out of the kitchen, et-cetera. The goal is to move the stalest, most odorous air away from people and out of the house.
Later, when we do the final interior parge of the house walls, we’ll parge between the glass bottles to create a smooth white cement wall up to the marble pillar in the middle. Everything in the bathroom, and the entire house for that matter, is designed for ease of cleaning. I even got most of the bottles tilted properly so they’ll self-drain.
This wall divides the toilet stall from the bathtub and shower area. Having a divider like this means that the one bathroom will better serve our whole family. One person can be taking a shower and another using the toilet or sink yet each person has some sense of privacy in the small space due to the angles and partitions.
The odd angles of the room seem odd if you’re looking at it as a floor plan from above but they have a purpose – they give a visual perspective that make the spaces seem larger than they really are. A bit Escherian. If you study the cottage carefully you’ll find I’ve done that sort of thing over and over, making things seem closer or further away to lend depth to what is in reality a fairly small house at just 252 sq-ft.
Outdoors: 76°F/48°F Sunny, glorious fall foliage
Farm House: 72°F/60°F
Tiny Cottage: 71°F/65°F