General info re BOH
...explanation of BOH concept
...donating (BOH or canes) to others for distribution
......large variety of BOH in single places
......figures-heads ...just-for-fun items .... other BOH "items"
...lessons at websites
opening & cleaning
...stoppers + lids
...stands + feet
...embellishing + many more ideas (snow, sand, empty) + wands
...for kids especially
Sources for empty bottles
....other things to use instead of reg. bottles
Approaching potential bottle donors
Approaching intermediaries
Other activities (+publicity, fund-raising)

(PHOTOS: bottles,opening,etc.)

(GlassAttic HOME)

(CARE Bottles)

some of the following are, or could also apply to:
any kind of small, decorated bottles
(or plastic prescription bottles, film canisters, etc.)

NOTE: There is now a website --which includes a message board and lots of info about BOH

the Concept of BOH

*explanation of what BOH are, and how they began, options for what guilds or individuals can do, and more (update on some guilds & what they've done) (sometimes this page is hard to access)
San Diego guild's unusual bottles, and photo of showing some patients how they were made

General info

Our guild gets empty bottles from the hospital... we decorate them and send them back for the patients.
...There is a lot to like about this program. The recipients and staff love the bottles, and often go on to try polymer themselves.
...We have a blast making them and that much less trash ends up in a landfill.
Hopefully, the concept will catch on outside the polymer clay community as well.
Jody Bishel (the original Paul Revere of BOH <g )

This all started when one of our members was going for treatments and asked if she could have the empty bottles.
She got together with some other clay friends and they had a great time covering them. Polymer clay is excellent therapy, as we know! She had a bunch of them so she took them to the  hospital and gave them away. The staff and patients loved them. Now we are making them for Yale New Haven Hospital.
Diane Gregoire (the originator of this idea): " ...When I brought (back some bottles I'd decorated) to the nurses, they LOVED them and so did some of the patients who saw me making them. They seemed fascinated with the clay and the colors, and for a while, they made people forget where they were. . ." (to read the whole story, go here:

I haven't been there when they gave the bottles to patients, but the hospital people are thrilled and say that you should see the smile on the patients' faces! Barbara

Thanks to those who have started the BOH for sharing not only their talent, but their big hearts as well.  Some days it's hard to look at the world and not see what's wrong with it.  Stories like these make it a lot easier to remember that there are wonderful folks out there, too.  You've warmed my heart and brightened my day.  And inspired me and I"m sure several others to look for ways to give back with our art as well.  (Hearty standing ovation for you all) Dawndove

. . . I speak as a cancer survivor. . . . I have a good support system, and many people I don't even know were praying for me. But, it would have been nice to have something to hold onto, like one of your BOH. Sometimes, in the cold, dark of just need to hold on. I still do . . . That black cloud hovers, and will for the rest of my life. I stay positive by surrounding myself with postive people, and playing everyday. . . . All of it removes me from the place where fear and pain live. . . so thank you to everyone who makes these wonderful bottles! You are giving more comfort to cancer patients than you can ever know. It's a tiny bottle, with a gigantic impact. . . Jan B.

I got a great letter from Diane G. a couple of weeks ago. What a great lady! She let me know how much this effort is appreciated and I thought I'd pass that on to you. Even if you never see the people who get the bottles...and I personally have never seen anyone get one of mine...just thinking that someone who is fighting the hard fight and feeling sick and miserable will smile and know that someone out there cares that they get well is enough to keep me making them. The fact that they are so much fun to make doesn't hurt either. Kim2

I think it's a beautiful and loving thing to do, trying to give hope and a brighter day to someone who desperately needs it.
Also, I've lost a grandmother and a good friend to cancer, and would love a way to sort of honor them by giving something back.
. . . . .I did have an idea however: nothing says we have to limit ourselves to cancer patients or to using the bottles from the actual treatment

(see more comments from both givers and receivers on the Comments page:

printable brochures and tags, etc. (need Adobe Acrobat Reader)
tags & short poems to put inside the bottles or give with them, if you want: &

I am available to provide any help or guidance re BOH!
Tracy Van Buskirk ....National Coordinator, Bottles of Hope Project
....please e-mail me at

Can I request that if you are doing bottles, please let us know at the Southern CT Polymer Clay Guild?
...Tracy Van Buskirk, our BOH coordinator, is trying to keep adding to a really beautiful book of pictures and stories from anyone who has heard about the project and been inspired to start making them.
It's been incredibly inspiring to watch the idea spread like ripples on a pond.
Please send your story to:
... or check in at our guild's homepage, for more information.
Thanks a million and keep up the good work!!! Jody

donating decorated bottles if you don't have a place nearby to donate
+ donating canes

If you are an individual or group who doesn't have access to a hospital, guild or other recipients, the Southern Connecticut guild (and maybe others in San Diego or Maryland?) would *love* to have your donations to distribute to cancer patients in their area.
Mail any finished bottles to:
Tracy Van Buskirk
National Coordinator Bottles of Hope Project
18 Poverty Hollow Rd.
Newtown, CT 06470

....Here are some other guilds that might like to receive your covered bottles if you can't donate in your area:

Decorated bottles or blank bottles can also be donated to The Plaid Daisy in Central Illinois (a boutique with helpful and supportive items for cancer patients, as well as a gathering place to receive the understanding and support) .
The Plaid Daisy's address: 4806 N. Prospect Road, Peoria Heights, Illinois, 61616. . . . add my email as a contact also:
...The finished bottles would only be given away to their patients, or to a family member/friend who intends to give it to a patient or survivor....or patients may choose one when they come to be fitted for their prosthesis or to get support during treatment/surgery.
...Blank bottles going to the Plaid Daisy would be used either at the Plaid Daisy's BOH quarterly classes for the friends and family to decorate a blank bottle and give it to their loved one who is undergoing treatment or is a survivor or to the nearby . Blue Highways Polymer Clay Guild that meets monthly in Williamsville, Illinois which will continue to cover bottles and give them back to the Plaid Daisy. Cat

Our web address is and to request a bottle people should email or go to the website.

BOH-Australia donate a BOH or money for supplies/mailing, or to request a BOH for yourself or someone you know, send an e-mail to <> in Queensland
...they have a number of get-togethers to make BOH
...they also have a little video to show potential business donors what the program is all about (...the best part of which is showing a number of individual bottles along with the name of their recipients and type of cancer they had)

We at the So. Connecticut guild also take donations of canes which are wonderful to use at the workshops (we host to teach community groups to make them).... So next time you are cleaning out your studio and you find some lovely pieces of canes that you just don't have a use for, send them along to us and they'll be used to make a wonderful piece of art for a cancer patient. Libby M.

(for donations to other causes, see Guilds > Community Outreach)


Large Variety of BOH in Single Places

Southern Connecticut Polymer Clay Guild 2000 (click on next 2 pages to see many more)
...........and (alternate site location for those) --98 bottles! (SCPCG's 2002 Challenge)... lots of figures, humor, techniques, flowers, etc.
San Diego Polymer Clay Guild's of bottles, 2000
(click on next 2 albums for more)
...Sandy Camp's BOH 2004, 2005, 2006
... .......
North Central Florida guild's bottles of hope
Southern Ontario guild's BOH
Amaco's Designers Challenge for CHA, 2007... all (Tommie's Buddha, wishing well, animals, frog, fish, sand castle, teapot, fancy hat, etc.) .... only, but enlargeable:
my various BOH
Flo's & her miniature-group's many BOH from 2001 to present (at least 4 albums, more each year)
many BOH made by Global Fantasy Doll Members and Peggy O. 2000 to present for Duke Univ.Cancer Ctr. (click on GFD Bottles, and on My Bottles)
various BOH at claypen's gallery (3 pages)

(more in next category too)

even more BOH

wire used around necks of bottles, and also as decorative forms placed into bottles (like flowers in vase)
Daphne's bottles with rope circlets around top edge and stopper, in toaster oven,
Daphne's bottles with encircling seed beads around bare neck & hanging wire spirals, etc. (not actual BOH though)
many bottles (med. and small) covered with mixed media and (often) polymer clay
...including transfers, beads, fibers, etc.
Ann's use of tiny pearls (rope and singles), seed beads, etc., all over 3 BOH
fibers, wire, charms, beads,
chandelier earring? ... around the neck, etc.
Mel's BOH completely covered with multi-colored holeless beads (liquid clay under?)
Peggy O put single brass charms on the front of her covered bottles for embellishment
Lynelle's nice cane covered bottles
canejane's (artzee) BOH (some not BOH, but lots of good use of translucents)
Flo's BOH and those made by her miniatures group (many with roses, vines)... (look just below in figures for more of hers)
Arizona guild's bottles of hope (click on Shows, then on Bottles of Hope)

Discussions from the Claypen's BOH.... various, & some figures too
Christine Brasher's fancy-shaped bottles, and ties with dangles (some look body-shaped)
Ann's fabulous sculpted flower BOHs (leaves and petals like unfolding pine cone)
Flo's? cane slices (attached only at bottoms) placed around bottle like bromeliad (or pineapple top)... trans.and Pearl spiral (on far left of photo #6)
Kati's tiny vase-type bottle with interesting Pearl/translucent? onlays

teeny tiny vessels of various types (MDPAG swap)

various bottles (Christmas with bow, mouse, etc.)
Laurel's many "perfume bottles" & tops
Tiny Bottle swap (8 BOH at PCC)
Kim K's BOH with dried stems of seeded grass attached to clay covered bottle, after dipping in very diluted TLS ...all rebaked... + frog stopper
Kim K's BOH, butterfly, doll, stoppers, and misc., and links to more BOH
(gone... look now at (click on sev. links under “Bottles of Hope”)
Mel's "stained glass" BOHs... with liquid clays?
Mel's words of hope (letters spelling Hope, etc.) on outside of bottles

hermine's 2-storey houses (one gingerbread)

Mile High guild’s BOH (gone from new website... added later?..., happenings)
South Bay (Calif.) guild's BOH, so far ....ADD photos --DB
Orange County (CA) guild's teapot & other BOH, and closeup of Kathy Davis' dragon bottles (website gone)
Kim C's Balinese Filigree bottle (website gone) (...though, see my red Balinese filigree bottle by clicking on PHOTOS at top of page)
Jeanie's onlaid spiral sun and rays, also wrap around neck, AND Otterfire's Balinese Filigree with beads & bead/wire lid
kelly’s mini vase BOH with crystal bead stoppers ...and wire/feather/beads (website gone)
kellie's (sam’s?) & Kathy's needlecase or tiny item bottle or hanging pendant (website gone)
Cheryl T's contact lens bottles, framed areas and covered stoppers for lids? (PCH website gone)
Trace's great multiple-loop bow, and heart as stopper (website gone)
Trace's mini vases (*cactus, dolphin, bows and other animal patterns, , esp) and BOH (all) (website gone)
Michele's "gorkley" partially covered bottles, ea. with gem (website gone)
Annie's stamped and powdered bottle (website gone)

Cindy's bottles with droppers, sprayers, caps, with leaves (don't know what's under)
Parrish's pendant bottles, (Medieval-style?) with parts which are faux stamped metal
Tonja's slender hanging pendant bottle, with flower onlays ..and fancy wire holder and double-spiral connector pieces
Monica's partially covered bottle with cane slices only on bottle's "neck and shoulders" (larger bottle)
Tonja's partially covered bottle, with metallic powders
(find again at
partially covered bottles or with contents, from Wizard's Pantry Swap: Kim's faerie stones, Dianne's dehydrated Muggles, and Marjorie's frogs' eyes

Linda H's pendant bottles, with gold liquid clay drizzles? (gone)
Tonja's sand?-inclusion bottle pendants (loop ring in cork stopper) (gone?)

(for more on pendant bottles, see Pendants > Tiny Glass Containers, etc.)

FIGURES & HEADS-faces, etc.

San Diego Polymer Clay Guild's 3 albums of bottles... many are animals or heads or full figures

hermine's loads of little figures, etc.
*Eve's bugs, head, snowman, crocodile! BOH
Flo's figures, some babies with toys, some with kimonos
Flo and her miniatures group's many figures one with just a cane slice face on the front (bottle + cap shaped like a robe hood)
various people & animals from North Central Florida guild
Linda Douglas' carousel horse
Faith V's most ethnic figures & dress (inspired by Dotty's film canister people)... Bottle People
Nina's "tree" men with head, hands and face peeking through a layer of overlapped leaf slices
Dotty's lesson on making a kimono dressed woman (over a Rx container, but could be bottle... see more in Covering>Plastic) (click on each image for larger view & more...kaleidoscopes, but could be BOH) (pieced and onlaid)?
Japanese figure with clay kimono (head of Pearl/translucent clay?...minimal, painted features)
Sandie's sock monkey, & bird, & simple figure with "dress" and hat
bald little girls holding hearts or flowers (with various headgear),
......& Mr. Potato Head type critters, made by Jan and others for MD Anderson Cancer Center (click on sev. Links)
Christopher Wright's funny monster critters (made over salt shakers, but could be BOH) (2 photos)
various faces surrounded by leaves, etc.... and also whole heads
(click on GFD Bottles, then click anywhere just heads or faces are used)
Marlies' various people made with small bottle shapes ...head stoppers & hands/feet
Gwen's seated leprechaun

Pam S's "Garden Bride"
Dawn N's tuxedo (no head)
snowmen with fat nightcaps and mufflers, twig arms, cute faces (not polymer, but could be)
Trace's (back of?) cow bottle, with spots (website gone)
Tamila's small bottles, clown with removable head (website gone)
(....see more figures at bottom, in Globes)

JUST FOR FUN . . .(not Bottles of Hope, but easily could be)

I built a clay house around my bottle and left an opening for a window. I put shutters on it and a smaller window on the other side of the bottle ....pushed a plastic figure into the bottle.... .at the CT guild retreat... it won a blue ribbon for being the Best Masculine bottle. (photo should be at PCC now or soon) Genevieve
...see hermine's 2-storey houses (one gingerbread) above

Dinko's critters and chess set pieces (bird-critter lesson) (Dinko critters swap)--click on sev.pgs. (early Dinko critters) (chess pieces)
Jean Comport’s wild women (mixed media)
my fingerpuppet people as simple figures (could make all clothes & accessories from polymer also)

OTHER ITEMS to make as BOH's clay flowers in tiny bottle "vases"
Faun's snowmen and fairie dust (from DebJean?) in small glass bottles (website gone)
Susan L's decorated eggs perched on spindle bases, with hole cut in top for the "stopper" (not BOH, but intriguing idea if you don't have access to bottles)
(website gone)

I've been deeply enthralled in creating mandala-type tiles with left over bits of canes (slices). I add crushed rose petals and leaves to transluscent clay for some of the backgrounds and use junk clay as a "base" (often marbled, etc., on a ceramic tile). It's so relaxing..and the process is like meditation. ...I'm going to be selling some but will donate most of them to my "Kids Cancer Project"
(see more on mandala tiles and a lesson on making them in Sculpting > Websites > Relief)

(look at the links in Vessels,Rock for many more transferable ideas about decorating similar small shapes)

(for more ideas, see links in Vessels,Rock ....and in Covering for breaking out glass, e.g. & also in text below)


Lessons at Websites

my lessons on removing caps ... "business" card... types of bottles, etc
my lesson on a simple way of covering a basic bottle: (see bottles with acrylic blocks, near bottom)
....for many more details on this lesson, see Covering subcategory below
BOH website mini-lesson on covering a bottle

Kim K's lesson on covering a bottle (...then stamping into the raw clay, covering with metallic powder, baking, and sanding off powder except in stamped creases) (be sure to click on "Page 2" at top)

Opening + Cleaning

my lessons on removing the tops ... and various sizes & types of empty bottles... are on the bottom of my photos page:
Kim K's various small empty bottles

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.
What worked best for me was to turn the bottle *upside down* and then put the top plier 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. Diane B.
...I slide wire cutters in from the top rubber side and snip and pull. Sometimes I destroy the stopper, but they come off quicker. Laurie D.

...Afterward I removed the caps, 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.
....(re some other bottles) I added a large shot ( about 2 Tbs) of liquid laundry detergent to about 1 gal of water that I had the bottles soaking in and "presto!" the next morning the lables peeled right off. Valleystar
...I don't think the labels actually need to be removed, but it's nice to start with a clean surface. . . . and I don't *think* there's any problem with leaving a bit of residue, but you can probably get the rest of the adhesive off with Goo Gone as someone mentioned, or I like the orange De-Solv-It stuff in a spray bottle better because it doesn't smell as solvent-y. Diane B.
...or use rubbing alcohol on the stubborn ones. Caroline
...If you have trouble with the getting the adhesive off, put salt on a green scrubbie pad and rub the bottle in it. Jody B.
...if you wash them as soon as you open them up without letting the medicine dry in the bottle, filling it up and draining it a couple times and/or some shakes of soapy water when it's partially full, cleans it out just fine. . . . i wear the latex or rubber gloves because it is my experience medication can also be absorbed through the skin. as i don't want to build resistence to drugs, i protect my skin from contact. sunni
boiling hot water is the best way of removing labels and if there was any contamination problem at all its nil. Faun
...I find WD 40 works as well or better than GooGone. Still have a greasy bottle to wash. Trina
... i have used peanut butter to get the label glue off of glass and it really works! (...after that, i wash them in the dishwasher, because they are so greasy!) Deb
......(however, it's better not to use peanut butter if you don't know whom the bottle will be given to....peanut allergies are extremely serious and much more common these days for some reason). . .allergic reaction can be caused by simply touching something that has (ever) come into contact with peanut oils . . . since we are giving these bottles to cancer patients whose immune systems are already suppressed from treatment, it would be tragic if a BOH caused an unsuspecting allergic reaction in a recipient. Libby


For the basics on covering just about anything with polymer clay, see that category here at Glass Attic:

click here for lessons on making various kinds of patterned sheets (some duplicated below) > Sheets from Cane Slices > Sheets of Pattern (not from cane slices)

ideas for using scraps and unloved canes: > Unloved, messed-up, leftover, canes

After making a sheet, always be careful not to roll it over crumbs on the work surface, or handle it roughly--pushing or pulling inadvertently), so that it will remain smooth.

to use a sheet for covering --lesson
(here is one way) (DB: ADD PHOTOS) 

--(measure your bottle top to bottom, and around, so you'll know how large a sheet you'll need to make)
--using a long blade (or ruler) make a horizontal cut straight across the part of the sheet which you want for the bottom
(audition it in various orientations if you're not sure)
--then make a second cut (at the end of the sheet) at an exact right angle to the first cut, to straighten one vertical edge
--stand the sheet up on the work surface on its bottom cut edge and arc it a bit so it won't fall over
--move your bottle into the sheet, at about the middle of the sheet, and press just gently
--keeping the sheet's bottom on the work surface, roll the sheet around the bottle until the straightened edge is adhered
--roll the other end of the sheet on the bottle till it overlaps, taking care not to trap air underneath the sheet
--press lightly on the overlap, then peel the top sheet back to reveal the faint line mark, and cut just inside the mark (the same depth as the thickness of your sheet) ('s better to have the sheet a bit too short than too long)
--reposition the second edge and press the edges toward the gap to cover it, if there is one;
--press the whole seam lightly to make sure the sheets are in good contact
--roll the bottle on your (clean!) work surface with an acrylic block, sheet of acrylic or glass, or even your palm if you don't have anything else smooth; if you do this well, the surface should be silky smooth and won't need sanding unless you want to buff; (...continue to avoid inadvertently gouging it with your acrylic or fingernails, etc.)
....If you want to even out the neck area so the bottle is all the same diameter and you won't have any horizontal neck ridges to deal with (some bottles have prominent ones), or so that you can more easily add slices, etc., one way to do this is: (see bottles with acrylic blocks, near bottom)
(website gone)
--cover the neck area with a color you don't mind being visible from the inside when the top is removed --been there, done that-- before adding your base sheet or embellishments. ....Place a rope or a flat noodle of clay around the neck.
--roll it smooth into the neck with an acrylic block or sheet of acrylic/glass, or just shape it with your fingers (you can make the bottle a straight cylindrical shape all the way to the top, or an evenly sloping area from the shoulders to the rim, or even a widened out area).
....option: you can use any extra clay sheet which extends up past the bottle to make a widened out area which extends past the rim (or you can change its shape in another way) (click on my PHOTOS page at top for examples)
....(but, if you'll be ending the clay even with the rim, see below in "Stoppers/Lids".)

Nora Jean's lessons on pleating a Skinner Blend or any length of clay pattern, etc., then wrapping horizontally around vessel forms ... some pleats are left dimensional, and some are completely flattened? ..... old address (

Skinner blend sheets are great for (BOH) and I can use up my little leftovers on them too. Jody

I have a LOT of unattached patterned clay sheets looking for a home. Dozens of little bottles may be just the answer! :) Desiree

Kathleen's lesson on covering a bottle with marbled sort-of jade clay, rubberstamped with perm ink
...stopper covered ... small ball finial added to top
...hank of embroidery thread tied around neck, with clay "leaf" dangles attached to one long end

(see more in Embellishing below)

Stoppers + Lids

There are a number of options when dealing with covering necks and/or rims which will have stoppers:
--stop the covering somewhere short of the neck or rim
--cover only to the outside top of the rim (see more below**)
--cover the rim

In general, most people probably don't cover the inside of the neck, although you could (especially if you're not using a lid at all).

In order to get a really tight-fitting stopper, any clay on the rim of the neck should mate exactly with the clay of the stopper or lid (or it will rattle and wobble around) .... that's hard to do unless you intentionally make the top directional so that it will always sit in exactly the same orientation.

OR . . . **the main thing I've found is that if you're using a stopper made of clay, the fit won't be satisfyingly tight unless you put no clay on the (horizontal) top of the bottle rim ... that way the clay stopper will contact only the glass or the plastic, not other clay, and will fit tightly and be perfectly round (so no orientation concerns).
....To do this, for the bottle itself, cover over the rim top, then use a flat blade or exacto to shave off the clay on the rim (place the blade perpendicular to the bottle height, then rotate the bottle) (this bare rim really won't "show" noticeably since it's glass or translucent plastic)
...To create a (regular) tight-fitting stopper, roll a longish teardrop of clay, insert it in the bottle hole and press down until it's the distance you want on top and bottom (remove and redo if it's not what you're trying for). Shape the top (or you could have done this before rolling the tapered bottom) or add additions to it now unless you want to glue them on after baking. Remove the plug carefully by slight twisting and rocking, then bake separately, or baking in an extra empty bottle is even better.

OR . . .use a rubber O ring on the stopper, to act as a sealer between the glass bottle neck and the clay stopper
... (this may work for some bottles ...even if not done perfectly, you still get a more secure stopper than if only clay alone). will not fall out easily, and if it is done really well, it can form a watertight seal (you can tell it is a good seal by pulling out the stopper and hearing a pop). some
rubber o-rings from the plumbing area where faucet washers are of the home improvement store.. you will need to take the bottle with you as it will need to fit perfectly inside the rim of the neck of the bottle.
...shape the raw clay in the approximate shape you want (can be scrap clay to be covered with more clay, or the final clay)
...then roll the o-ring up onto the stopper
...reshape the stopper lightly to be sure it is filled in above and below the o-ring (see photo... in this case, Jeanne left the o-ring sticking up higher from the clay than she might have if she weren't going to add clay slices on top of her scrap shape).
...put into bottle to be sure it is the shape and look you want, and that the o ring is even on the stopper
...cure the stopper (for the one pictured, I added clay canes after it had had one curing). Jeanne R. (base clay stopper with o ring in place, but before adding cane slices on top) (finished bottle with stopper)

For some reason, some of clay stoppers do seem to swell a bit while baking or cooling. If you can't bake or cool the stopper in the bottle, try pressing or rolling the inserted part just a tad smaller before baking.
...My trick is to shape a nice chubby plug, at least as long as it is wide (the width should be based on the opening in the bottle) Then I lightly dust the plug with baby powder, this ensures it will be fitting from its shape alone... I will then test fit again, tapping the cork-like plug on a firm surface to slightly fatten it and then fitting it back in the bottle. ginifischer
...If your stopper ends up too small, you can always whittle a little bit off...carefully. Kim2

the rubber stoppers that come with many bottles bake just fine!!
...however, they are truly airtight and, if you don't want them to launch thru the top of the oven while baking because the air inside the bottle has expanded, (bake them separately) on the baking tile instead of baking them in the bottle neck. (author?)
.... i cover the (whole top of the) rubber stopper with clay in 2 steps …I bake scrap clay onto the stopper, then embellish and bake again. i pull it out and glue it back with E6000. Sunni
...rubber stoppers need to be glued into the top after baking, unless you've trapped them within the clay. Caroline

However, I've always been able to bake my raw clay stoppers right in the glass bottles (or in an extra bottle) without having them launch out... don't know if the clay isn't totally airtight or just what's happening (do remember to pre-heat?) . . . (these are stoppers that contact glass only, not other clay). ... this makes an excellent fit, and they can't swell while baking. Diane B. first BOH I made an angel. I put the head (lid) on the bottle for baking. Part way through the baking process we heard a huge POP! Yep...the head had blown off the bottle! Linda H. (why was her experience different??)

(If you want to even out the neck area to make the bottle the same diameter all the way up so you won't have any horizontal neck ridges to deal with, see above in Covering > lesson.)

You can also add metallic or other kinds of beads to the tops of the clay stoppers. To do that, drill a hole through the stopper before baking. After baking, insert a long head pin through the stopper, after first threading on whichever beads you want; you can add something to the bottom as well; cut and bend the bottom of the wire to hold everything together (or create a small loop or spiral, etc.). (website gone)
...If you used an eye pin at the top instead of a head pin, you could dangle something from it or use it in some other way.

If you're using a stopper that's not clay, for example the wood bead I used on top of my masked leaf bottle (see PHOTOS), or see the stopper photos in the link just above) you can still make it into a clay stopper. ....In that case, I pressed a bit of teardrop shaped clay to the underside of the bead (the part just under the bead was barely larger than the hole, but you could also leave it larger as a design element); I drilled a hole from the top of the bead to the bottom of the clay teardrop, then removed the clay plug carefully and baked separately. I later glued it back to the bead with E-6000, avoiding the hole.

Unless you've made some kind of nest or fitting to hold your stopper, it's helpful to have a counterweight underneath it to keep the stopper from wobbling around and also to keep it resting straight up and down. I've been making a longer tapered tail at the bottom of my stoppers (since I noticed this) which hangs down inside the bottle.
...Daphne made a loop (under the stopper) at the bottom of her wire to hang a counterweight from (a pretty, drilled stone)

If you apply the PC directly to the cork, you can make it a cap and just cure it cork and all. If you do it that way, I like to drill a little hole across the cork near the top and put a very fine wire (like a headpin) thru it and curl it next to each side of the cork to give just a little added strength...something to help absorb the tug the top will get. . . . . Or, you can mold the cap, bake it, and then glue it . Scratch the inside of the cap before you place it back on the cork so the glue will have extra grab. kelly k.
....You can often buy corks at the hardware store in packages. Until you know which ones will fit your bottles, it may be best to buy an assorted size package . . . almost-fits doesn't work with corks!
...corks can be fancied up by covering with Patio Paint (a strongly adhesive acrylic paint, or ordinary acrylic paint probably), then highlighted with Rub 'N Buff (using Gold RB on darker RB's just here and there can look good too)

The smallest commerically avaliable corks (usually about ten cents) will fit the insulin vials. Sandy
.....and you can order corks on this online scientific surplus site Sue
(see more on using corks and making faux cork in Faux Turquoise & Wood > Cork)

For the stopper-type lids in this photo of small PVC containers used to hold tiny amounts of metallic powders (click on PHOTOS at top), I rolled a ball of scrap clay into a teardrop shape by rolling on one side with my finger.... I pressed it into the hole, then used a stamp or mold to press the top part of the stopper down a bit more.... each lid was then brushed with the color of metallic powder that was contained inside. . . . for the two in the back, I stamped on a separate ball of clay which was then added to the basic stopper before being powdered.

my various stopper/lid styles
(see PHOTOS&lessons link at bottom of page)
my completely covered, screw-on lids (from contact lens bottles)
(see PHOTOS&lessons link at bottom of page... look at "water globe" bottles)

clay hat as lid with rod-like clay piece attached to bottom of hat which fits into hole in top of penguin's head

Olga Porteous' head lid and flared "collar"
(for now, use) (being redesigned)
Dotty's lesson on making a molded face into a head for a covered prescription bottle figure, stopper style
Pat's head with upturned face used as stopper for "body" bottle (Chinese elf)

If you attach the head to a clay-wrapped bottle body, position the head at the neck of the bottle, making sure that there is a tiny hole provided (baked or unbake head) between the back of the head at the neck of the bottle. It is important, in the baking process, hot air is forced up into the neck of the bottle. If the attached head is not bake the hot air can damage the facial features or any other area of the head. It will form tiny exploded air bubble. Garie Sim

Kim2's partially covered bottles (for Fairie Stones) with interesting stoppers (could use for BOH)
Susan G's great "stacked" shapes stoppers
Trace's heart, heads, twists, etc., stoppers (website gone)

Eberhard Faber has some fancy stoppers (stacked shapes, etc.) on top of corks for larger glass bottles on their site

(for more lids, see above in Websites )

(if you're allergic to latex, see for info on reacting to medicines/injectibles which were kept in bottles with rubber stoppers)

Stands + Feet

Here are some places to see possible stand or feet ideas: (Tory's "feet")
my tiny bottle on simple blue disk base for stability, but could add decorations to the disk also
... click on PHOTOS&lesson link at bottom of page
Terry O. used a disk of clay as a base to stand her bottle on (placed to one side), and then added a tiny baby figure curled up on the base
Elisabeth's "legs" (website gone)

another possibility..... add legs to covered broken-out glass bulbs (flame or other shapes --see Covering >Glass/Bulbs and >Smaller Bulbs), or to rock armature shapes, or to balloon vessel shapes (Vessels-Rock and Vessels), etc.

turn bottle on its side (or use straight up) and add animal legs and arms/head
(see Pens > "Caps" and "Stands" for examples of this idea).

Garie Sim's whimsical test tube flower vases ("stands")... long & large glass test tubes (or could be bottles) are made freestanding with bases comprised of figures (actually parts of figures!), stuffed chair, etc.


All the plastic bottles I've tried so far have done fine in baking at 275 for 20 minutes, even with the tops of the rim and the bottoms left uncovered (probably because they are "medical plastic" like Rx bottles, etc...... There may be some plastic bottles that will soften a bit, but I'm guessing it wouldn't be enough to mess up the bottle. Try an easy one first.

If you use one of the rubbery type stoppers which come in the bottles, just remember to bake them separately, because if you put the stopper in and bake, the air inside will heat up and pop the cork out.


Bottles don't need a sealer or sanding/buffing unless that's the effect you want.
...If you've used metallic leaf, however, they will need to be sealed with Flecto Varathane, Future, or one of the other sealers (see Finishing for info on these sealers), or if just you want to add glossiness.

Lately, I've been using a quick "dip and drip" technique with Flecto Varathane on my bottles if I want to seal them, or if they need visual depth (as with metallic clays, translucents, etc.).
(see for my lesson)

And see the whole Finishing page for more ideas


Technique and Theme ideas
(see photos in Website links above for many more ideas)

If you can't think of anything to do, just make one bottle for each technique you already know!

It doesn't take much clay or time (to make them) but I've found it very valuable as a fun way to experiment with new colors and techniques to figure out how I want to use them in my bigger work.

If you like something, but it seems to lack an Idon'tknowhat, mess around with textures and powders. Even if you muck it up, it's such a small amount of clay.   Keep in mind what you're doing and who it's for and you can't go wrong. Kim2?

clear liquid clay with Pearlex, swirled in a clear glass ornament? to coat the interior. Jeanette 
...That's a great idea. Some of my friends in the SCPCG have decorated the inside of tiny bottles that way and it's very pretty and delicate. If you wanted to make the TLS look more solid, give it second coat of opaque LS (on the inside?) and bake it again. Nice (glassy) technique-no sanding or finishing at all! Jody
...made like the swirled glass balls which have acrylic paint swirled inside them? (clean first with alcohol or vinegar and dry completely)...turn upside down and allow to dry at least a day (while occasionally swirling if desired) ...these could either have acrylic paint inside to act just as a background for whatever polymer is on the outside, or a swirled, clear liquid clay interior with metallic or other inclusions (even tiny holeless beads or glitter, etc) added before baking
...for a frosted look, I painted the outside glass surface of the tiny bottle with Kato sauce (liquid clay) tinted with Pearlex and oil paint. Sarah
....Susan's Liquid Sculpey, and rose or granite Fimo Granitex-coated, bottle interiors??? (website gone)

could also cover with embossing powder (colored one, not the lighter-weight UTEE) ..stick something like a dowel in the bottle for handling... roll bottle on (clear?) embossing pad (or any pigment color pad?) ... then roll in a fast melting emb. powder ...(may be best to use thick glass?) ....hold under a heat gun... let cool completely . . . can then emboss or add another coat or color if desired ... embellish with fibers, wire, charms, beads, around the neck, etc.

onlays....all kinds of things can be added over the bare glass, or over an interior covering like the swirled coatings above
... or just over a background clay pattern (marbled, dragged lines, tiny cane reduction sheets, collage, etc.,)
...these onlaid pieces could be anything at all:
....... molded items (like faces or geometric shapes), cane slice(s) --any shape (SKim K. has a square slice placed on point...4 cane slices together, etc.), cut-out shapes from any patterned clay, transfers, frames, stacked layers, collage, a bit of Balinese Filigree, just about anything
...the onlays could be placed right in the middle as a central motif, or added around the bottom or top like a border (clay braid, row of slices,etc.), or used to create a secondary pattern
..Marie made lettering on backgrounds (strip banners or shaped plaques) to apply to her small covered bottles
.......(for lesson, see Letters-Inks > Lettering > Molds... plus other ways to make lettering on that page)
..see Onlay & various other category pages for more ideas

partial covering... leave a little or a lot of glass showing (the empty areas could be in-between clay things like leaves/vines, flowers, slices, stripes, etc.
... or the empty area(s) could be whole areas (clay just on top part or bottom part of the bottle... or to show or hide something that's inside the bottle)
...when partially covering with clay bits, sometimes there isn't enough of a mechanical hold to keep them on, so some kind of glue can be used under the raw clay (some glues can be used on the whole bottle and be invisible, some just under the clay parts be sure the clay is free from hand oils, etc., for best bonding... wipe with alcohol first):
... light brushing of liquid clay all over, or just underneath clay?
...coat of "Clear" glass paint
(mixes with their other colors to make pastels)... solvent based one works (water-based one untested)... all over of superglue under each clay bit
...white glues like Sobo (would dry clear enough if thinly applied all over? or would hold if just used under clay parts?)
(...or the parts can be removed after baking, then reattached with superglue, Weldbond, E-6000, etc.)
...I decorated a bottle with cane slices and left a lot of glass showing then cooked it. I found I could easily peel the canes off after cooking, so I gave the whole bottle a coat of Varathane Diamond; a good brush is needed to avoid air bubbles. The finish dried hard as nails right over the glass and polymer. also gave a nice filler around the cane slices . Shane

....HOWEVER, later ... those partiallyl covered objects didn't hold up. While I really loved them, the flecto began to peel and flake after some years. Shane

I love making collars on bottle(necks) really makes them something special. Lynne
(in this case, the collar was a downward extension of the stopper/cap (silver real-metal powder over black clay)... top like onion dome with deep vertical indentions... sev. rows of horizontal indentions....simplified "lace" simulation at bottom

You could also change the basic shape of the bottle (before covering it), by filling out the exterior of the bottle with raw clay (or with scrunched alum. foil, or small baked shapes of clay) to act as form(s) ... these could be traditional bottle shapes (see these Asian "snuff bottles" for inspiration:
...or they could be made into non-traditional bottle shapes like animals, objects, etc.

pendants and bubble wand bottles
.... I was supposed to be doing a demo at our last meeting on how to make them into bubble wand bottles, but we got snowed out.  They are a heck of a lot of fun! My sister and I were brainstorming ideas and came up with some more (see Stoppers below for making the tightest fit).
cover a small bottle (make as a pendant if desired with wire) then turn it into a bubble bottle with wand cap
....Jody's twisted wire wands in various shapes
...Connie's various bubble wand pendants
.......some are flat squares of clay placed on opposite sides of a tiny bottle with edges pressed together and embellished... some are large flowers over the front and extending past the bottle... some are goddess figures with cork stoppers for heads
Parrish's pendant bottles, (Medieval-style?) with parts which are faux stamped metal
Tonja's slender hanging pendant bottle, with flower onlays ..and fancy wire holder and double-spiral connector pieces
...various bottle shapes to buy... with metal triangle top loop embedded in tops (glass or rubber), or eye screw screwed into cork tops (first, click on "Glass Bottle Items")
Linda H's pendant bottles, with gold liquid clay drizzles? (gone)
Tonja's sand?-inclusion bottle pendants (loop ring in cork stopper)

(see more in Pendants > Glass Bottles, etc.)

I have made bubble bottles out of the little shampoo bottles from hotels.
....I made the wands from the tops of margarine tubs ... just cut out a wand shape and made the hole with a paper punch.
.. perhaps you could make a slit in the top with the end of the plastic wand, pull it out and then glue it in after the top is baked.
......or if you are making the top of the clay bottle from clay, couldn't you just make a wand out of wire? Genevieve

Bottles can have things a container for flower seeds, a bracelet or necklace in a bottle kit (put a threaded needle and beads inside), refilled with bubble bath, or have bubble solution ...that's only part of the list.
...She also came up with my favorite, Vesuvius in a bottle, a bottle of colored vinegar with a separate tiny packet of baking soda (when you put the baking soda in the vinegar, it fizzes up!) I don't know how the hospital would feel about it, though! Jody
...make bottles with aromatic inclusions in the clay such as spices, herbs, etc. (see Inclusions--Smell-y for more details)

A nicely covered bottle could have an encouraging note inside (see "General" sub-category above for message possibilities).
...... pics of the notes bagged up with each bottle ...and also the thank you card given to the providers of the vials (an optical shop, vet, etc.)...I will upload a pic of the poster used to advertise the project. tlc

Instead of a note, I was thinking of putting something in the bottles, but didn't want to write anything that might not reflect where the person was at that time. So I'm thinking of making a tiny hand with a heart on it to drop in each bottle... that seems like a multi-ethnic, multi-era, symbol for a hand held out in a simple gesture of caring/comfort/help.

somebody made the bottle into a pen stand ..and then covered a Bic pen to match. The patients loved those. . .
....our guild president Diane Villano just made one up as a robot! The bottle was the body, the stopper was
the head and he was resting on really cool treads, like on a tank ....I think we've got a bit of friendly competition going in our guild  to see who can come up with the most clever ideas! Jody 

They could be used as a necklace! (see pendants in "Websites" above for examples) These would be great, as the people can take their bottles of hope with them always, and keep it close to their heart! They are so small, it it would take nothing at all, to make a permanent stopper in them, and simply make a hole in the top, for a chain or cord to go through!...Trace
...Tonja's lesson on bending wire around the neck of a tiny bottle to hang as a pendant

And my other idea, was to make a string of BOH garland! Using the same concept as the necklace, but somehow attatch it permanently in place so it doesn't slide to the other bottles. All hospitals have xmas trees
. . . or make it non-xmas themed and hang the BOH garland at the cancer unit!! Trace

Make into longer containers such as needlecases (see "Websites")

After I saw the BOHs, I feel I have a long way to go to get used to working the "diminutive" scale. :D ... Desiree
....This might actually be a real issue for some people, come to think of it. I've noticed that there really are some who just prefer to work big, and some who are drawn to working small (more like me)...
....So maybe you could combine the the large and small sizes somehow . . . perhaps by adding something large behind the bottle but still attached to it, like a screen or backdrop. The little bottle could still be in front, either covered or plain, but it would be in more of a scene, or on a little stage which would be in a larger format? .....Or maybe a "shield" in front? or a "base" underneath? ....Make any sense? At any rate, adding something to the bottom, top, sides or whatever would create a larger palette to work on. Diane B.

more ideas from DB. . . I'm starting to percolate now...

Try to take into consideration the shape of your particular bottle or container, and the shape of its neck if there is one.
...the bottle neck could be the neck or waist on a figure, or it could be turned upside down to be an indent just above the feet (socks, etc.).
...the bottle could be placed on its side (with or without feet or other things to hold it up) and the neck and rim could be the snout for a pig or creature.

The neck area can also be ignored or clayed over; one way to do this would be to use scrap clay (should be a color you don't mind seeing from the inside when the top is removed --been there, done that) to create an evenly sloping area from the shoulders to the rim, or a straight cylindrical shape all the way to the top or even a flared area (see above).

several tiny bottles could also be grouped together (possibly with one in the back made taller with clay riser on its bottom); if two bottles are used together they could be the basis for eyes of critters or other things.

If you use tiny bottles, you may want to place them on a base of some sort to make them larger, add more stability, or add embellishments like scenery/flowers,etc. (see Stands, Feet above)..... or you can simply flare the bottom area.

aluminum foil can be tightly crumpled around the bottle to form any shape or to add shapes, or scrap clay could be used the same way (make a pyramid, or any shape at all).

Make things that might have meaning for the individual or for those dealing with illness/stress... for example, things connected with:
-hope (colors or patterns or facial expressions associated with positiveness, rainbows, bright or pastel colors,)
........(--or sadness/darkness to honor where they might be)
--family/pets/homes (grandchildren, tiny house with smoke-on-a-stick extruding from chimney hole)
--illness (a cancer cell being devoured by another cell or a creature or Golden Light, whatever)
(--there is a list of "colors representing 8 kinds of cancer " on this page:
--hobbies or interests (books/reading, golf clubs, cooking/mini foods, quilting, etc.)
--awe, mystery, or spirituality (the cosmos or stars, vague swirliness, inclusions, fantasy or crone characters/castles, a small mandala or other shape to focus on for meditation--see Onlay for mandalas, )

or things that represent them (diff. body types, ages, clothing, wearing glasses --see Wild Women in websites)
...(also being in a calm place, hobbies or aspirations, )

Make the bottle a vase, with any pertinent themed objects on wires as the "flowers," leaves.
...Vesta's small pot vase --heavily stamped and Pearl Ex'd, with beaded cords around narrow neck and also dangling

Make the bottle a vase (or make it into another item) which is held or is sat on, leaned against, etc., by a bear, wizard, or other figure...

Make the bottle into a mini-light of some kind ... a nightlight maybe, or an actual string of lights (bottles) made by dropping a mini-Christmas light bulb into each bottle and securing it ... or turn the bottles upside down and set into a base of some kind to stand up (with mini-light inside).
. . . I don't know if we could somehow make this a BOH idea, but that it might be cool also to put clay over or in front of? the lighted areas of those new "rope lights" (guess you'd have to glue on a flat piece or cane slice or pre-bake tubes that could slide on??).
. . . Hmmmmm.... or instead maybe putting the whole string of the rope light inside a brandy snifter or small fish bowl, etc., with clay in front could be considered one BIG BOH . . . or maybe it would be better to do that with a string of mini-lights which would fit into something smaller... even a wine glass. Diane B.

(see partial covering some paragraphs above for more on this:)
....put something inside (glass) bottles which will show through (partially cover or don't cover the outside). These could be "fairie stones" like Kim's above in Websites, or a cylinder of caned or embellished clay; maybe tiny fish attached to a water or kelp tower, etc.)
Kim2's partially covered bottles (for Fairie Stones, etc.) (could use for BOH)
....also TLS with inclusions, or acrylic paint, swirled inside clear bottles, etc.

Marina's bezels and multi-wraps around faux stones for pendants might be fun... (lesson for her opals in Faux--Many)
*** look now at ---> http://www.marieidraghi.itciondoli.htm

MORE ideas

To get many more ideas or techniques for covering small bottles, see relevant categories in the navigation bar or on the home page
...FOR EXAMPLE: Glow in the Dark clays or flex clays, mica effects, Balinese Filigree or weaving, mosaics (caned or inlaid), onlay, stamping, molds, transfers, mokume gane, faux's, seasonal, mixing media, miniatures, many kinds of canes including translucent overlays, checkerboard ikat cane,

mini- "Globes"
(with water/snow or sand, or empty)

Put tiny scenes or figures, or something else, inside the bottle.
... the bottle could be empty ... or it could be totally or partly filled with water or water& snow, or sand (or whatever)

my mini-water globe bottles with falling glitters/sequins/beads inside bottle
my mini-snow globe with tiny sculpted cabin and tree inside bottle
.....(for both, see PHOTOS & lessons link at bottom of this page)
. . . in the photo of the wands, you can't see how nice the holographic glitter and other things look as they slo-o-owly drift down --you'll just have to imagine that part.

For my both water globes and snow globes, I use a 50-50 solution of water and glycerin (to make things fall more slowly, and also to prevent the whitish coating which can appear after some months)....all of this has required a lot of experimentation, some successful, some not.

For some globe bottles (mostly the ones with sequins/etc., I covered and embellished the plastic caps from contact lens bottles with clay, baked, then screwed back on with glue after filling the bottles
....for other bottles (mostly the scenes) , I used only rubber stoppers.

The biggest problem I've had with the the mini snow globes keeping out the dreaded air bubble!!
......I've experimented with syringes, hot wax, various glues, etc., and think that I can usually avoid the bubble now with the screw-top bottles by overfilling with the solution, then twisting the cap back on with silicone glue --on a completely *dry* bottle neck exterior (keeping that area dry is the hard part!)
...I haven't yet made too many bottles with stoppers because they're more troublesome (an open syringe inserted into the rubber when pushing it into the neck seems to work, but I'm not sure if the glycerin in the water makes them more likely to leak around the rubber.) If I could only find a glue that works with wet surfaces!!!

The thing I've been having more trouble with is the scenes in the snow globes with falling snow (see PHOTOS at bottom of page for one of them)
...of course, the inside items have to be *tiny* to be inserted through the neck of these bottles
...I've been baking a little cabin and tree first... then pressing them into a raw clay "snow"
base in the bottom of the bottle (with a bit of toothpick in both parts, and liquid clay)... then bake in the open bottle... after cooling I add the solution (see above) and put the top on.
...the problem I'm having is that the fine glitter *eventually* begins to move down the sides of the clay base (between clay and glass) and even gets underneath it --this is accelerated I'm sure by all the shaking I've done to make the snow fall, which then loosens the whole base (again maybe the slipperiness of the glycerin makes a difference too)! . . . ack.
.....not sure how to prevent the fine glitter from slipping down on the sides between the clay and glass
.......prob. should try different glues underneath the clay... superglue? ..liquid clay?...2-part epoxy?..aquarium glue?

Also be aware that some glitters especially may bleed their color into the water (notice the one with pink water!), so may need to test certain glitters or plastic gems.

I definitely have to work on making my tiny houses and trees so I can make them more quickly, and also know what sizes/shapes will fit, or which I could make in parts then assemble in the bottle. . . Diane B.

dry globes, mini display globes ....figures or other items and empty bottles ...on the outside or inside
...Peggy O's piskies (pigs) and grass & painted butterfly, flower? ... some are inside bottle, some are attached to outside
...Brigitta's (gekko)
...Pat's woodland elf
...Pat's pine trees
I put a molded and Pearl-Exed shape on the front of my tiny empty bottle... added a base so it woulnd't tump over easily, and a stopper
(see PHOTOS & lesson link at bottom of page)

(see also above for other things clayers have put into uncovered or partly covered bottles:
e.g., Kim's "Fairie Stones" or "Voldemort's Dehydrated Muggles")

(also see Outdoor, Globes,etc. for more on snow and water globes in general... and Garie's non-BOH mini-globes as well)

especially for Kids (& big kids too!)

(see also all kinds of "FIGURES" in websites near top of page!)

San Diego Polymer Clay Guild's 3 albums of bottles... many with cool kids ideas
Flo's and her's kid-oriented ones!
Terry Lee C's funny-scary creature on bottle
Greater Los Angeles' guild's BOH, especially some for kids

Speaking of bottles of hope..I'm trying to come up with a similar idea for the kids at a local cancer research hospital. It's where Val is being treated..and there are SO many little ones there who are so sick. I made a couple of small angels...the could be hairless (since most of the kids are also) and I'm making them into pendants (just strung on some metal)
Dont think that would be too cool for the boys though. I was thinking of a small critter..along the lines of the Dinko "critters" for the boys. ...I'm going to see if the local guild might be interested in doing some to donate (too). Jan R.
see also Jan's Mr. Potato Head type critters in Websites above)

Anything gross it seems, is good for boys in particular!
... also bugs ... lizzards, dinosaurs .... monsters
....Harry Potter inspired stuff would be good too. Jody B
(see Wizard's Pantry swap:

hermine's figures include pirate, cowboy on horse, gargolye, animals, "knights" in amour, dragon, muscle man lifting weights,
hermine's weird characters ... one with cane slices for eyes? .. on thick cane slice base/stand
onlaid features

There is no info about what type of "artifacts" he likes. (The first thing I thought of was bones but quickly passed on that. Then I realized I was thinking paleontology.) So...I've been thinking about stuff I liked when I was a kid.
...I lean towards American Indian stuff, so I'm exploring that.
.......maybe a basket with a few strands broken, then sand off part of the finish or put some white on it for aging. Kim K.
...arrow heads, beads..things like that are very indian. Peyton01
...other Native American things could also be stuff like patterns of Navaho or other Indian blankets and rugs, faux turquoise, faux leather & fringe or stretched hides, seed beads --or faux seed bead patterns made from tiny balls of clay or from impressions along a tiny rope to simulate balls {see Onaly> Balinese Filgree}, petroglyphs (transfers would be easiest), clay pots, sandstone or reddish stone, clay weaving, feathers, tools like hatchets or arrows, silver conchos or other bits, eagles/thunderbirds, kachina figures, totem poles, small fetishes,
a boot-type moccasin could be formed around a bottle,
drums of various kinds are the right shape, etc. Diane B.
....masks are big in the Pacific NW Native cultures. Patti

my daughter (now 12, who is so creative it is scary sometimes) makes weird creatures and bizarre stuff in tiny bottles . . . check out her jar of "newts eyeballs" and the little newts on top with eye patches!! Ruth (...not BOH, but could be)

pottery or pottery shards...

archaeological... how to make a bottle look like it's covered in sand or dirt? I want to try to make it look like this is a dig and the pieces are partially uncovered. Kim (see Fauxs > Aged Look, and also > Rocks & Pebbles for many suggestions)

I recieved a wonderful box of beads and Stretch Magic from Stefanie (claydaze) to give to the kids at the cancer center. She had a WONDERFUL idea..which was to send the "fixin's" so they can make their own bracelets! I love the I'm going through my own stash of beads and cording to add to it. ...I have some cane ends that I'm using up to make some more beads...and will take them to the kiddos sometime next month. I'm also working on some of the bugs (inspired by the HOTP book by Anita Behnen and Shelly Comiskey) to take as well. They went wild over the "dinko-like" critters I sent last I know they'll love these. Thanks to Stefanie, Jody B for the wonderful pens, and Anita and Shelly for the inspiration! If anyone wants to know more about my Kids can visit my website (see above in Websites). Jan R.

small games with polymer clay for hospitalized kids, from tic tac toe on an Altoid tin, to chess, to board games, etc. . . (see Kids/Games for lessons, photos)

Upside down, they could be fingerpuppets, or tiny figures (see my fingerpuppets-and-heads in Websites for some ideas)

one of Tonja's "covered" Altoid boxes is actually, I think, a painted tin with a large slice (larger than the top of the box) laid across the drapes over the edged and forms a flare at each corner...with the "feet" she's put under the box, it looks to melike a bed (just add pillows!)

SOURCES for bottles

(OR to order empty bottles online, see the Supply Sources page )

The one thing we've noticed is that you just can't predict which type of bottle will be popular with patients. Newbie or pro, there seems to be some one to love each bottle.  Jody

...ask the Nursing Supervisor to talk the pharmacy and then volunteer to pick them should be in bottle heaven! Laurie
.....None of the bottles we use had anything toxic in them, so when we get them we need to remove the metal and rubber seal, remove the label and rinse them out. If you think about how many of these little bottles a hospital lab uses in a day, it only makes sense that they'd be happy to give them away! The key is to make it easy for them. We have members who work in the lab and they take care of getting the bottles so the hospital doesn't have a box of  them hanging around until somebody can pick them up (which is nice but not necessary)...

Our local emergency room saves the bottles for me. Flo
...If you know any nurses working in a hospital setting, ask them to have their floor save their saline bottles for you. You'll shortly have more than you ever thought you could use :) Andi

We went to a dialysis unit and asked them to save the bottles. They were MORE than happy to assist and actually wanted to learn how to do it themselves. I taught them a quick lesson and who knows what will happen to it.  Laurie, Utah guild

 The small heparin bottles are about 1 1/2" tall and the MRI contrast bottles are about 2 1/4". I've even seen some really tiny ones that must have been about a half inch! Jody
.....Those bottles are in two sizes, 1 7/8" or 2 1/8".
....NOTE: Heparin bottles don't contain the chemo meds.themselves (actual chemo bottles must be disposed of as hazardous medical waste).  Heparin liquid is simply used in the process of administering chemotherapy (as a "pusher"), or from MRI contrast drugs.  I asked some of the oncology nurses here, and sometimes Heparin comes in plastic bottles...  Lenora
... I've used those plastic heparin and also saline solution bottles for Bottles of Hope, and they work every bit as well as the glass ones....and the stoppers are easier to handle because they are real stoppers made of the orangey rubber.... some of us in the new San Antonio Polymer Clay Guild have covered them with clay and they baked great, no melting or smelling funny.

I  went to my local Lens Crafters and asked if they  would donate their used contact lens bottles for  this great idea, they gave me 10 bottles and will call me once a month to pick up what they have saved. So if you like this idea, here is one more possible source. Ranay
...other optometrists and ophthalmologists
(...see lots of ideas about approaching and obtaining bottles from optometrists below in "Approaching Potential Donors")

talk to your personal doctor. I asked the nurse at my dr's office to save for me... kellie

Consider the dentist, too, local anesthetic vials are great. Becky

i go to my vet's office once a month for the tiny 1/2 oz glass serum bottles and - even larger bottles thrown in now and then ...sunni
Vets have LOADS of these bottles, but they're mostly the tiny ones (see photos from my guild in Websites to see many of this size covered)

You might ask around to any of your friends who happen to be diabetics on insulin. The insulin bottles aren't quite as tiny as the ones orginally used, but I think they would be an acceptable subsitute. Insulin bottles are also a lot smaller than the standard injectable drug for multiple doses vials.  The rubber stoppers and alumimum bands are easily removed with pliers. The smallest commerically avaliable corks (usually about ten cents) will fit the insulin vials. Sandy

I also inquired at my son's allergist's office and they will be saving their saline bottles for me --they mix saline with the allergens for injections (they won't give me, and I don't want, the actual allergen bottles!)...Diane B.

there is a Chinese medicine called Yin Chiao, boxes of which can be bought at almost any chinese pharmacy for about $4.00.  Each box has 20 small bottles.  I take the pills to ward off an oncoming cold or you can throw them out.  The bottles are tiny and should be easy to cover. Gloria 

Sometimes our our local emergengy room throws in some (clear and amber) ampules in our box of bottles... they break the tops off and it leaves a sharp jagged top edge... I was concerned about the sharp jagged edges. (I tried sanding them didn't work). But if I carefully held them in a pair of pliers, and heated the jagged edges with a small propane torch until they turn red on the end, then quickly press the jagged edge against a small ceramic tile for a few seconds, it would make the broken tops smooth as silk.... can buy those small torches at WalMart (the kind used to make Creme Brulee)...they're not expensive, just 5 or 6 dollars or so. Flo

Other Things to Use as "bottles"

If you don't have bottles, make do with something else!

I once made some tiny containers with lids I made from PVC pipe (see PHOTOS sub-category in list at top of this page... then look at bottom left photo) . . . I made these to hold little bits of metallic powders to give to someone, but the same idea should work for BOH in a pinch.
.....I cut thick-walled (small diameter) PVC pipe into short lengths
..........a PVC pipe cutter is very quick for this --a scissor-like tool sort of like curved pruners; I use my cutter often enough to own one, maybe $10? it! a hardware store, can also ask salesperson to cut it for you (sometimes they carry in a pocket) ....or you can "borrow" one from the shelves temp. :-) can also cut PVC with a saw, then sand edges
......Remove any lettering from the white pipe with acetone (fingernail polish remover).
......I added a bit of clay to close off the bottom (for these, I rounded the inside clay of the bottoms so that the powder could be easily used), and baked it.
......Decorate the exterior if you want by covering/embellishing (....for how I did my stopper-type lids, see Lids below). Diane B.
...many covered PVC pipe length samples (these were to be glued together later onto a lazy susan to make a "tool holder")

empty fingernail polish bottles . . . Vesta Abel suggests pouring out as much of the old polish as possible, then baking the bottles for 30 minutes to dry the remaining polish, or letting them air-dry for several days

glass salt shakers ...these are made into tiny Middle Eastern figures

glass spice bottles ... I found another great bottle to use for the BOH's. I had an old double tier wooden spice rack that came with the glass spice bottles. I find that these are a great size. I'll have to check the yard sales because I know I've seen them out there, cheap too. Carolyn from Mass

some of the small containers (plastic) for herbs and spices are recycle # 5, so those should work well too (McCormick, Schilling, Tone's)... the larger ones aren't # 5 though! (look on the bottom)

I bet lots of us have old plastic prescription bottles around (I know I do, 3 bottles a month).  The amber bottles stand up to the oven fine (thanks to Dotty McMillian for that tip in her article for Bead & Button)......(see Covering > Plastic for lessons on covering them) 
amber plastic prescription bottles (Dotty) (lesson) (molded faces, leaves, etc.)
...see many more of these above in Websites > FIGURES

cover all but the top part of a tapered or other glass lightbulb or xmas bulb or ball; decorate and bake as a base form; leave the glass is OR break out the glass by squeezing inside a paper bag (can't use Sculpey with this method --it's too brittle and will break); decorate more and rebake; add a ring of rope clay or feet to the bottom if necessary to make it stand (see Covering > Glass, for more on this method)

Macy H's egg... clay placed around most of egg, but rising into an open flared neck at top
... egg dissolved out with vinegar? or plastic egg melted a bit? ... or top cut down first?

use an empty wooden spool for thread (it would be a small hole, but still a hole!)... just remember to bake the bare wood 10 min. first to drive off any

(...see also Covering for various other things which might work for bottles.... plastic, metal, glass, wood, etc.)

freestanding.....make your own Tube or Pinch Pot

--roll paper a number of times around a fat marker, etc. (this should make it stiff enough to cover); glue or tape the end flap down; cover with a sheet of clay, and add decorations or add enough decorations to hold the whole thing together; remove marker; add a bottom now, or after baking, bake this form; remove paper tube. (rebake if added bottom after baking) author?

Jeanne Rhea's "overlapped-sheet" cylinders of clay

Elizabeth's tiny, lidded round boxes

use Sue Heaser's rolling method for making a pot, but make it taller (this will have a bottom)

pinch pots can be made in several ways:
--using a log of clay (from a clay gun or not) to coil around and up into a general pot shape, before doing final shaping/smoothing with fingers
--pinching upwards from a fat clay disk or ball (try not to end up with thin sides and fat bottom)
--Donna Kato's method (balloon vessels) of pinching a fat
clay disk upwards. . .but she then makes her top hole small enough to blow into and close off, etc. --see more in Vessels/Hollow Forms for this method, and for various other hollow forms techniques)

approaching POTENTIAL DONORS for bottles

(see above for actual Bottle Sources)

You could print out the So.Connecticut guild's page about the bottles and show it to the staff (at places where you'd like to receive donations). Just start simply like Diane V. did, by making some of the bottles and sharing them with the patients and staff at the center. It doesn't have to be a big organized thing. We're happy to see other folks use the idea!  Jody

As for finding bottles, I had great success with optometrists since I like their bottles (and they don't require much washing out if you have a bunch to do). Before starting, I went to one of the search engines and entered my zip code under the listing for optometrists/etc. I printed out the list and have been visiting several at a time which are located near each other.
....preparation: I've printed out a number of color photos of BOH's on the Web which I take with me for approaching potential donors, along with 6 or so sample BOH's that I've made....(I color photocopied the original set of color printouts so I'm not worried about losing them or leaving them behind.)... I also leave all the stuff in my car trunk so I can drop in on a likely place when I'm not expecting to.
Pretty soon I decided that I needed to have my own " business card" to give people at the offices (or to anyone) to help remind them to save the bottles and let them know how to contact me by phone when they had them (optometrist offices often like to gather them in a box, then call when the box is full). I found one of those programs for making cards/labels in our CD stack and figured it out enough to make something okay though I'd like to do a better one soon (or it can be done in Word, printed out a number of times on a sheet of paper, then color-photocopied onto cardstock) --I also put our guild's name and website on the back (click on PHOTOS at bottom of page to see my card) .
...For the actual approach, I walked up to the front desk with my (cigar-type box) open so the samples I'd brought were visible, and then immediately set one or two up on the counter (this really gets their attention --otherwise they can think you're a solicitor or will be a nuisance before you can even say a word). ...Then I had a sentence or two I got out as quickly as possible... something like "A group I'm in likes to make these little bottles for cancer patients, and I wondered if you might be able to donate some of your empty contact lens bottles for us to use ...I can also pick them up later if you don't have any now."... all the while taking more of the bottles out, removing some of the lids/stoppers to show that they open, and also putting the photocopied sheets of bottle photos on the counter. This worked every single time. ... very soon, several of the staff came over to look (there's always at least one person who especially wants to help).
...Then I'd spend a few minutes answering the questions that inevitably came up: no, we do not sell them to the patients or to anyone; yes, they're really bottles underneath --just look at the bottom or remove stopper; it's "polymer" clay, which is baked in a regular oven to make it hard; yes, you can do just about anything with polymer clay (showing various examples); yes, you could learn to do this yourself too (look on the card I'll be leaving for my webpage which has lots of info about the bottles, how to do things with polymer clay, and how to contact our local polymer clay guild... and yes, we welcome beginners too). . . sometimes people are so impressed with the BOH idea or what can be done with polymer clay that they want to show someone else later, another good reason to leave them with a website address.
Picking up a business card from each place you visit is a good way to remember where you've been, the contact person and phone number, and when you should call for the bottles.
......My son had a good idea . . . he thought I should actually make the cards from polymer clay (like polymer postcards), so I might end up doing that or just gluing some kind of slice or even a tiny item like a bottle onto the card.
...I might also give a decorated bottle with a slot in its clay lid (to hold my card) to any of the sources who help. DB

I asked the nurse at my dr's office to save for me, showed her a finished bottle, and that helped.  She saved a bunch for me.  in fact, finally I had to ask her to stop, I got so many.  which I have shared with others. kellie

(at my vet's office) i made enough of the little bottles for each of of the employees. since then, i've had no trouble getting as many as i need!! i have about 300 plus bottles right now. . . sunni

approaching INTERMEDIARIES for potential recipients

nurses at oncology departments of hospitals, radiation depts., dialysis units, visiting nurses,

…sometimes, it is more  efficient to contact a social worker at the hospital or medical center--because they have some mental health training they are more likely to recognize the therapeutic value of the bottles. Jeannine
A social worker would be a good idea. And maybe there is a group who visits the patients in a hospital that would love to have the bottles to distribute with their other goodies.  You can find out about these groups by calling the administrative offices of the hospital. Darlene
I believe that most hospitals have a patient's advocate's office or certainly a chaplain so you could start by speaking to them.
Yes, by all means try again! Many facilities are understaffed and the nurses and techs overworked; the nurse you spoke with might have seen your idea as just something else she would have to fit into an already full schedule. Arm yourself with a printout of the New Haven Register article Dianne spoke of (a very nice article indeed!), and see if you can find (or better yet, make an appointment with) an administrator or social worker on staff at the treatment facility. Bonnie

BOTTLE-TYPE ...MISUNDERSTANDINGS ...sometimes people who are asked to donate bottles will most likely be thinking that the bottles in question are NOT the kind we want ... wrong!), and respond like this:
"In checking with our Hematology/Oncology Department they are unable to release the empty chemo bottles, due to it being biohazardous material. The bottles need to be discarded into a special container. Because of this, unfortunately we are unable to honor your request" (....however....this is because they thought we wanted the bottles with the actual chemo meds in them, rather than simply the chemo-pusher drugs like Heparin). Laurie

You all may remember me telling you about the "nurse" ( I later found out she is not a nurse but a CMA) who was not impressed  with my BOH and refused to save me any bottles,  saying "We can't do that," and that I gave the (decorated bottles) to the radiation center instead. ....Well, it seems they have been giving them out, and some pts have been showing them to the chemo staff. On Monday, that same "lady" came out into the crowded waiting room gushing all over me about "the beautiful bottles" I make. I could not help saying "They are the same ones you refused"... Didn't faze her at all... she next announced that she is going to make some bottles. Hummmmm, wonder where she will get her bottles. Anyway, I thought you all may get a laugh out of the story.  Flo

They could be decorated and donated to patients  either in the hospital, or to the patients in a nursing home or convalescent home,
or to kids in the childrens' wing.  I bet these people would greatly appreciate something like this. Dawndove?   

you might want to try a Hospice …as well!!!  Jan Ohio
(maybe call them something else in that case, like Bottles of Comfort, etc.??)

at the Cancer Center.... after I got the foundation director's permission, he gave me the Nurse Manager's info. She gave me the Nursing Supervisor's info and I set up a meeting to explain the program.
....They loved the bottles and wanted to know if I could come and do them in the hospital since chemo takes for ever and it is hard to find projects that work around the IV port. I explained how I prep the bottles and asked her if they could start saving them for me so we would have plenty to work on for the sessions on the chemo floor. I did a demo for all of the nurses to show them what was involved to see if they thought patients could handle it.
.....When I showed up to work on the bottles with patients, everyone kept asking me if I had seen the bottles they saved for me. I found out why when they brought the box and bag into the room. The sides were taped up and there must have been 40 lbs of bottles. (Moral of this story: the nurses don't have access to the big Heparin flush bottles. The syringes are filled up in the hospital's pharmacy. So if you ask the Nursing Supervisor to talk the pharmacy and volunteer to pick them up, you should be in bottle heaven!) If you can spare time to do a demo on how the bottles are made, and jump through the hoops, you get tons of cooperation. Laurie


San Deigo Guild's annual free "class" at a cancer center to teach staff, volunteers and patients how to make Bottles of Hope

Polymer clay is perfect for out-patients receiving chemo as well as in-patients and (people who suddenly have a lot of time on their hands, but not a lot of energy) . 

Our hospital was also very interested in having volunteers come to teach a beginners class.
...This is a great idea that we hope will catch on! ...I'll be doing the demo and passing out a tip sheet at our next meeting.  Jody

Small demos or classes could also happen when the bottles are delivered (San Diego guild)

I think this idea is just wonderful.  I saw the pictures of the bottles from your retreat last year and was touched by them.  I think it's terrific that you all can continue with such a good cause.  One thought for those of you who are looking for something so positive to do as a guild:
...perhaps you all could organize a class with kids in the hospitals, or kid cancer patients and teach them to cover a bottle themselves. 

Or it might be something to teach in a nursing home so they could also feel the joy of making something beautiful, and maybe donating those as well.  Dawndove

We in the So. Connecticut guild regularly host workshops for community groups to teach them to make Bottles of Hope, and to become self-sustaining participants in the project. Libby M.

The Plaid Daisy has asked me to teach a class on how to make the BOH, to friends and family of their patients. I'm not charging a fee for the class; the students will pay only $3 to cover the cost of the clay --Cat (see info on Plaid Daisy above in "Donating decorated bottles if you don't have a place to donate nearby")
. . . . and I will provide lots of canes
. . . and possibly small-scale patterned sheets (like Damascus Ladder, mokume gane, ghost image mica or invisible canes, textured and maybe powdered sheets, etc.) Diane B.

I was also thinking of doing something next year in the way of Bottles of Hope with my son's 7-8 grade class (he goes to a parent participation school).  We're looking for things we can do under the aegis of Community Service without having to leave the school
I was also considering having them make some small games with polymer clay for hospitalized kids, from tic tac toe on an Altoid tin, to chess, to board games, etc. . . (see Kids/Games for lessons, photos) DB

(Any craft can work for decorating BOH and any age can do it.) Tracy Van Buskirk has helped four year olds make them and her girl scout troop is working on them too. Jane Moreno is going to have her high school art classes do themas well. Jody

~I recieved a wonderful box of beads and Stretch Magic from Stefanie (claydaze) to give to the kids at the cancer center. She had a WONDERFUL idea..which was to send the "fixin's" so they can make their own bracelets! I love the I'm going through my own stash of beads and cording to add to it. ...I have some cane ends that I'm using up to make some more beads... Jan R.

October is breast cancer awareness month.  So I contacted the programs coordinator at the local Michaels ... and we have set Saturday,Oct 20th as Bottles of Hope day there at the store.  She will donate the polymer clay and I will round up the bottles.  We will have a couple tables set up in the front of the store along with some tools and other supplies.  Anyone that comes in to the store can come over and join us in making some Bottles of Hope.  We will make some posters to put up in Sept and I am hoping to get a little blurb put in the community paper.  I figure this is a win/win situation.  Cancer (not just breast cancer) patients will recieve BOH, Michaels will look good to the community, Michaels may get some new customers, and we may get some new polymer clay addicts.  What have we got to lose? tlc
LATER: My local Michaels store, or rather the events coordinator Donna, donated the clay (their scrap bucket of mostly Sculpey III) and embellishments such as embossing powders. They set up a few tables in the front of the store and this past Saturday we set up supplies, waxpaper workspaces, toaster oven and lots of small vials. As the customers entered the store they were invited to join us in turning the vials into gifts of hope for cancer patients. The morning was slow but the afternoon really picked up. Though most of the bottles were created by children there were a few adults that joined in. What is it about 'grown ups' that make them afraid to try something new? The project was enjoyed by all and we haven't even handed them out yet!
I don't think Michaels was disappointed by the increase of sales of polymer clay by parents of excited BOH creaters. Our grand total for the day ----- 120 Bottles of Hope !!! I have uploaded some pics of the bottles at my pbase account. I also uploaded a pic of the note that is bagged up with each bottle and also the thank you card that I made to give to Michaels and also to the providers of the vials (an optical shop, vet, and a friend who had access to scads of the tiny ones). I will upload a pic of the poster used to advertise the project after my film gets developed. I have provided all these pics to inspire others to organize a Bottles of Hope day in their locations. I would be happy to answer any questions concerning running this type of event. I have plenty of vials left over so I hope to run another one at a new location. hugs, tlc

A group of us met with a reporter and a photographer from the New Haven Register this evening and there will be an article about the bottles in Tuesday's paper. We are also setting up a special BOH Clay Day (for our guild members).. Jody

An article was in our local paper today about the BOH. It was in a special supplement on the Relay for Life program to be held next weekend (by Donna Hickman, Daly Journal Staff writer).
Cancer survivors hope for a cure. At this years Relay for Life, they will find a special way to commemorate that hope. The Bottles of hope project was started in 1999 by Diane Gregoire, who is a cancer survivor and polymer cay artist. She said" I was actually getting a chemo treatment (see complete text above in "This all started..." link)". Locally, Flo Jaster has begun sharing the bottles with those who need hope. "At the time I heard about the project, a very dear friend was undergoing cancer treatment", she said. "I started making them for her and since then I have made and given away 250 of them. Jaster is donating the bottles to the Relay for Life. They will be available in the Cancer Survivors Tent.

We did Bottles of Hope at the Shrinemont national retreat in May. There was a cancer survivors group there learning how to fly fish. Jean C.


BOH-Australia has a short video to show potential corporate donors what the program is all about (...the best part of which is showing a number of individual bottles --each also shows the name of the recipient and type of cancer they had)

BOH-Australia also has a number of fund-raising activities --to raise money for clay and for mailing costs

Amaco's offer (AMACO, distributor of Fimo in the U.S)
...."if Bottles of Hope workshops are planned in your area, or if a hospital or craft retailer is interested in hosting one, AMACO will seriously consider sponsorship of such an event. Please contact Brenda Garvey at .
...does this mean they would also donate clay??...and/or bottles?



PHOTOS of my BOH & mini-lesson