Have you ever seen these interesting Bottle Tree sculptures in yards around your neighborhood? There are a few in my area, and when I first happened upon them, I was like “what in the world is that?!?! WHY would anyone want that in their yard???”
As I saw them more and more, they started to grow on me. Apparently, in the US, Bottle Trees are a southern thing, with their origins dating back to slave days.
The slaves believed that bottles would capture evil spirits, and that the spirits wouldn’t be able to get out. When morning came, the sun would kill the spirits and ghosts. So they placed their empty bottles in the bottle tree, and hoped for the best.
Fast forward to current days, and you still see some bottle trees made from actual trees or branches. But usually they’re made from copper pipe or wooden dowels. We’re using copper pipe for this project.
How to Make a DIY Bottle Tree Sculpture
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- 1/2″ ×10′ copper pipe
- 1/2″ copper tees (4)
- 1/2″ copper street elbows, 45 degrees (8)
- Large piece of cardboard, or something similar, to protect your working surface
- Polyurethane glue
- Decorative bottles (5)
- 1/2″ rebar, 36″ long
- 16- or 18-gauge copper wire
- Assorted large glass or acrylic beads
- Tape measure
- Marking pen
- Pipe cutter
- Wire cutter and needle nose pliers (optional)
- Sponge or spray bottle
- Eye protection, work gloves
Bottle Tree Directions
Don safety clothing, including eye protection and gloves. Using the pipe cutter, cut nine pieces of copper pipe that are each 6 inches long, two pieces that are 12 inches long, and two pieces that are 18 inches long. This will be the basic form of your bottle tree.
Glue one end of four 45-degree elbows into the stem of each tee, following the instructions on the polyurethane glue. Our glue called for pre-wetting one side of the gluing surfaces first. Using a spray bottle filled with water makes for quick and easy application. Push the tees and 45-degree elbow assemblies onto your working surface to ensure they’re flat.
When the connections are cured (about 24 hours), glue an 18-inch length of copper pipe onto the bottom of one elbow/tee assembly so the 45-degree elbow is facing left.
After the glue has cured, glue a 45-degree elbow to the end of each arm, and then glue a 6-inch length into each elbow.
Optional: Using a needle nose pliers, attach lengths of copper wire to the center trees. Slip beads onto the wire and secure the opposite ends to the pipe just below the lip of the bottle.
To install the bottle tree, drive the rebar into the ground with the hammer, and slip the center pipe over the rebar. Finish by slipping the five bottles onto the branches of the tree.
Ta-daaaa!! Your bottle tree is done!
Reprinted with permission from the book Garden Builder by JoAnn Moser.