Did you know that the idea of the bottle tree actually dates back to the 9th century? In Congo, hand-blown glass was hung on huts and trees as a talisman against evil. The first bottle trees were cedars stripped of their leaves. The colorful glass bottles were meant to attract evil, trapping it inside the bottle and keeping it away from the home. According to legend, you can hear the moans of the trapped evil spirits as the breeze blows past the bottles.
A bottle tree can take many forms, from a stump with nails or other posts hammered into it at angles; to a metal "trunk" with welded metal arms to hold the bottles. Your creativity is the limit.
Select your materials. You can use a tree trunk, branch, or large dowel for the "trunk" of your bottle tree. If it is to be planted in your yard, you don't need to worry about a sturdy base. If not, make sure the materials you select will be able to stand on their own. For the "limbs", you can use large nails or dowels. If you can weld, you can even use metal stakes for both the trunk and limbs. Your choice of materials will depend on the tools you have at your disposal, as well as the overall feel you want to achieve with the bottle tree.
Attach the ‘limbs.The method you employe to make the bottle tree will depend on the materials you have chosen. Weld together metal pieces, or hammer large nails into wooden pieces. Drill holes in the trunk for inserting dowels. Whichever materials you choose, make sure the limbs are set at an angle, and far enough apart that the bottles won't hit each other. Most people space them about 6 inches apart. Don't space them so close together that you run out of limbs to place before you reach the bottom of the "trunk.
Fill with bottles. Once the bottle tree is complete, stick your bottles onto the ends of the branches. You can use any bottles you have laying around, or purchase new ones to achieve a coordinated look. For example, buy cobalt blue or red bottles for a colorful and festive mood. Keep your eye out for interesting bottles to add to the collection on your bottle tree.
Enjoy your bottle tree. Bottle trees are an interesting form of folk art that is making a comeback. Occasionally you'll see bottle tree versions in stores, but why not make your own? Use a mixture of recycled materials and used bottles for an environmentally-friendly decoration. If you place it outside, the sun will shine through the glass bottles beautifully.
Bottle trees are simple and unique. There is a lot of room for your own creativity when making a bottle tree. They make great gifts, and fantastic yard decorations. Or keep them indoors as a means for storing empty bottles.