Like so many great endeavors, Andrea Baker’s hobby of making art out of wine bottles began with a question. The question wasn’t even related to art. In Baker’s job as chef of Gironda’s Restaurant in Redding, she hated to throw away the wine bottles that couldn’t be recycled due to their color. She wondered if there was some way to use them. That was the question. It wasn’t whimsical or even creative. It was just a little irritant that would turn into a pearl.
It started small. Baker thought maybe she could make candleholders for the restaurant. So she took some wine bottles out of the trash and headed to the craft store. She knew she wanted to cut the bottles but it took perseverance and some internet searching to figure out what tools she would need. From there it was trial and error.
After she had figured out the candleholders, she made some hanging bottles with votives inside. Her co-workers loved them and wanted to buy some. Baker loves to make people happy so she kicked into gear. It didn’t take long before she realized that she could supplement her income in her spare time. The extra cash flow was just one of the benefits she discovered.
“It is really relaxing and relieves stress, and I enjoy it. It gives me time at home and I am able to spend time with my 16-year-old son, Caleb,” Baker says.
In addition to the flexibility, her new cottage business had low overhead. Baker recycles the bottles from her job and also from Johnny’s Bar in Redding. She finds little bottles and other supplies at thrift stores and yard sales. Keeping expenses low enabled her to grow her hobby.
As her hobby and skill evolved, Baker kept trying new things. Her website, http://www.bottleartwindchimes.com, showcases everything from the original candleholders to hurricane lamps to wind chimes, all made from upcycled wine bottles. She also makes wind chimes out of small vintage bottles. Some of the bottles she paints; some she turns into drinking glasses.
“They are really sturdy,” Baker says. “And they really are pretty. The candleholders and lanterns glow when the light is inside, and the wind chimes have a beautiful sound.”
Baker should glow a little too. Her bottle art is available in several stores in Redding, including the Enjoy Store, Vintner’s Winery, and Dave’s Barrels. She also sells at craft shows, and has sold out her drinking glasses at a Beer and Wine Festival.
“I believe everybody needs to learn something new every day or there isn’t anything in life to keep you going,” Baker reflects. Her “something new” keeps showing up in creative and whimsical designs. It also provides her with a pastime that she finds gratifying. “It makes me happy,” she said, “and it makes other people happy. I like that.”