There are so many different ways to show hospitality to others: taking meals to those in need, inviting people over for food and fellowship, or providing a place to stay for the night or even longer. Hospitality also offers many opportunities for us to use our individual creativity to demonstrate our love for others through the extra little details we incorporate to make things beautiful as well as functional. This month I will show you how a couple of empty glass jars can enhance your hospitality.
If you have ever been staying overnight in another’s home and gotten up in the middle of the night thirsty or needing to take medication, you know how wonderful it is to have a glass and a small pitcher of water nearby. That knowledge led me to believe that a small water carafe left in the guest bathroom or on a bedside table would be a very thoughtful touch to make guests feel welcome. Since I had purchased a bottle cutter some time ago and never had the time to use it, this project seemed just the thing to try it out on.
Working with glass is not as predictable as working with other materials. It is fragile, and it requires a little practice and patience to master. Be prepared to ruin several jars before you get the hang of it. Fortunately, the glass is free! Simple save the empty glass jars that you would normally put into your recycle bin and practice on them until you feel comfortable. When you are confident enough to begin on this craft, you will need to have a glass shaped like the salsa jar above and a smaller one with straight sides for the cup. Make sure the bottom portion of the smaller jar is large enough to fit over the neck of the finished carafe. I used a salsa container and the bottom of a bottle with a nine-inch circumference.
Bottle cutting used to be a popular craft back in the seventies and may be enjoying a small revival of interest. I bought my cutter over the Internet, but I saw the same model in a Hobby Lobby just last weekend for about twenty-five dollars. With a sale or coupon it is not a bad investment. In addition to this project, you can make vases, bowls, glasses, planters, domes, and many other things.
To get started cutting the glass, you need to begin by removing all jar labels and putting on safety glasses The concept behind using a bottle cutter is to keep the glass-cutting blade at a ninety-degree angle to the bottle, as demonstrated in the photo. Carefully turn the bottle while putting some pressure—not a lot!—on on the blade. There should be a slight grating sound, which one individual likened to the sound of tearing tissue paper. It is not a loud sound and you do need to be able to hear it, so make sure that it is quiet when you want to make a cut. You want to keep the blade in constant contact with the bottle all the way around. If you have done the cut correctly, there will be a line resembling a hair on the glass. A “fuzzy”-looking white line indicates either a dull cutting blade or too much pressure applied to the bottle. If you have missed a section of the cut, go back over that area, but do not go back over your cut, as that will ruin the cutting blade. Some people have been able to get around using a bottle cutter by propping the glass cutter on a can or other stable object and carefully spinning the bottle against the blade as seen in the other photo, but this is rather difficult and takes a considerable amount of practice.
It would be lovely to remove only the screw section at the very top of the salsa container and leave the lower band, but the blade of the cutter is not long enough to achieve that, so make the cut just below the band. After the cut is complete, you need to stress the cut to cause the glass to fracture. This can be done by holding the glass over the kitchen sink (lined with a silicone mat) and pouring about two cups of very hot water over the cut line. Then immediately put the glass under the stream of cold water from the faucet. You should be able to hear the glass fracture on the scored line, and it will reflect the light differently than the rest of the jar. It may even separate completely, so be prepared for it to fall (or shatter!).
Most of my jars will fracture under the water treatment, but they will not separate completely which means that I have to tap them. If this is your experience as well, insert a bent metal rod (this came with my bottle cutter but you could make your own), and tap gently on the back of the fracture line. The goal is to tap just ahead of the fracture line to extend it into any areas where the glass remains intact. If the cut was not a clean one or the tapping gets too far ahead of the fracture, the fracture will jump off the score line and the jar will be ruined. This is a fairly normal experience for beginners, which is why practice is required for this craft. On a good cut with appropriate tapping however, the tone of the tap eventually changes and the glass separates easily.
At this point in the process you will have a piece of glass with a rather rough cut edge. This must be smoothed down, which can be done several ways. A glass grinder is probably the nicest way, but they are pricey. It is possible to sand the glass down by hand by inverting it on a piece of sandpaper and twisting it back and forth while pressing down, but this is somewhat tedious and exhausting. When I use this method, I usually leave the project on the kitchen counter and work on it in snatches. When I want the project to move along, I turn my husband’s palm sander up-side-down and twist the glass back and forth over its surface. Once the cut edge has taken on a frosty appearance, I turn the glass on edge to the sander and sand down the edges, inside and out, until they too are smooth. This method does kick up some glass dust, so be sure to wear eye protection and a breathing mask.
After the glass is cut, it is time to decorate! The options are numerous: glass paint, clear plastic stickers, etching cream, or rub-ons. I chose to use rub-ons because they are very easy to use and can be applied to nearly any surface. In addition, they do not seem to be bothered by the condensation that accumulates on the outside of the glass when there is ice-water inside. If you would like to use them as well, begin by cleaning the glass. Next, position the rub-on face-down on the bottle and rub over the entire surface of the backing paper with the tool that came with the kit. You can check to see if the design has transferred by carefully lifting the backing paper. If a portion has not yet transferred, put the backing paper back into place and rub some more until design is completely transferred to the glass. Simple and beautiful with no mess to clean up! The carafe is ready for use. If you do choose to use rub-ons, I would recommend hand-washing your project instead of using the dishwasher.
This whole project, which centered on being hospitable and offering cold water to one who is thirsty, made me think of the verse in Matthew 10:42 which says, “and whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward”. As a parent, I do like to reward the best effort of my children, but I also know that there are many things in life that they will have to do because they are right and not because I can reward them. In fact, there are sometimes righteous acts that not only are not rewarded, but are ridiculed. In times like that, the knowledge that God sees even the little acts of His children and promises to reward them is of great comfort and encouragement. So, “use hospitality one to another without grudging” (I Peter 4:9), and don’t forget to share the Living Water with your guests. May your reward be great in heaven.