How to make Sugar Glass Bottles (British recipe)
Sugar Glass Bottles (British Recipe)
It’s quite possible (especially because we absolutely suck at promotion) you haven’t heard, but we’ve just wrapped filming on our first feature (Modern Toss, incidentally you’ll find the early parts of a diary we kept but haven’t typed up yet elsewhere on the site). Before we go any further, let’s say now, Filming was a blast with a capital B, then a second b in lowercase and two exclamation marks at the end, (so that should read Bblast!!). Seriously, if you’re wannabe indie filmmakers like us, whatever else you do in life, go and make that incredibly low budget, every favour you can imagine called in, feature. Can’t guarantee you’ll make any money or anything, but the experience alone is, simply put, Awesome (Or Aawesome!!)
One scene in Modern Toss involves the throwing of beer bottles. Now realism and the likes of Dogme 95 are great (in doses) but it’s a bit unreasonable to throw solid glass beer bottles at your cast (especially if said cast are only working for expenses and the offer of a free showreel). The answer of course was sugar glass; that’s the fancy shit they use in westerns, drama’s about drunken men in the North of England and on those game shows (Distraction) channel 4 broadcasts every so often that do everything they can to be ‘zainy’
Only Problem is, that shit’s expensive, especially if like us you don’t really know what you’re doing and usually end up with a fair few takes, so………………………………. In the true film DIY spirit we decided to make our own, helpfully a bunch of more talented guys have already come up with methods, unhelpfully they all tend to be American, making it hard to get a lot of the stuff you need over here.
So, here is an account of our experience making sugar glass bottles by adapting an American recipe, hopefully this’ll be helpful to others trying the same thing (feel free to email with any questions.
Also, the recipe/check-list will be at the bottom of this blog, that way it’s easier to navigate to
The Opening Recipe
Despite what every employer in the history of existence will tell you, safety is important, so goggles are a must (enthusiasm clearly optional), and when the boiling begins (see later) the temperature is 150 Celsius (300 Fahrenheit) so heat proof gloves for all! Some of the chemicals are less than friendly to skin as well, so if like us you have a friend who’s into all that stuff, vinyl or polythene gloves are pretty advisable too
First Step: Get a 2 litre plastic bottle
First thing you need to make is the mould, and the first step in making the mould is finding something to house your mould in. We used a 2 litre plastic bottle because that’s what Indy Mogul told us to do, we chose apple tango cause on a budget as tight as ours everything counts and only a dick would waste the sweet nectar that is apple tango.
Step 2: Prepare the 2 litre bottle and a beer bottle
Right, cut the top off your big plastic bottle but make sure you keep the top. We cut at the curl of the bottle, be careful not to go too far down, the beer bottle you’re going to cast your mould around needs to be suspended without touching the bottom.
IMPORTANT Clean both bottles out thoroughly, any impurities or residue left in or around the bottles WILL mess up the mould.
When your two bottles look like the beautifully taken photograph above, you’re ready for the next step
Step 3 Gluing the cut off top of the 2 litre bottle
Take the cut off top of the 2 litre bottle, flip reverse the damn thing, (this’ll make more sense and be A LOT easier to explain after step 4) and, after matching the tip (which is now facing towards the floor) with the top the 300 millilitre beer bottle, superglue the two together so it looks like the picture above
Next, (and this is even more confusing) take the cap of the two litre bottle, and glue that to the top of the cut off top of a two litre bottle/330 millilitre beer bottle hybrid. Try and get the top as even as possible to set you in good stead for step 4
Step 4 Drill a hole in the cap
Ok, step 3 out the way (but not explained), for step 4 you need to lay something long and solid you can drill through over the top of ‘the hybrid of step 3’ and insert a bracket to keep everything in place. (Happily size of the hole isn’t important). We used a fence bracket because it was the right shape and more importantly, laying around for free, Indy mogul used a block of wood, both are good but Indy Mogul are probably the group to trust out of the two of us.
Step 5 Shit gets explained and brought together in harmony
Ok, so the first pictures show the finished article. Basically step 3 and 4 are so you can suspend the 330 millilitre beer bottle in the 2 litre plastic bottle, without the 330 millilitre beer bottle touching the bottom. This is important for when you pour the mould. We also used a ton of gaffer tape to keep everything in place and sturdy.
Step 6 Moulding Agent
Indy Mogul used Oomoo but good luck finding that in the U.K, we looked everywhere0 (meaning at more than just the first page of search results in a google) and couldn’t find it anywhere. There was the option of importing, but it was cheaper to buy pre-made bottles than do that, which sort of defeated the purpose.
Instead we took a punt on a moulding agent called Max Mould 30, because it was cheap on ebay (around £30 a kilo) and there’re a ton of youtube videos where people used it and didn’t fail miserably or die.
IMPORTANT: The moulding agent comes in two parts you need to mix together, whatever container you’re using to mix the mould ensure A) it’s clean as hell (We’ve always assumed hell would be clean and have Terminator 3 Rise of the Machines showing on repeat) and B) It’s not an expensive container, because whatever you use, you will have some moulding agent left in it, and it will very likely never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever come off, ever.
What’s also nice about Max Mold 30 is it’s as easy as stealing candy from a baby trapped in a barrel with shot fish. It comes in parts, you add the big part, stir in the small part and watch the colours change. You know when it’s ready because it becomes the same pink as the cars of those middle aged ladies who seduce teenagers.
IMPORTANT: make sure everything’s prepared before you mix the mould, Max Mold has a shelf life of about 45 minutes, after that if it aint in position it aint useable
Step 7 Put it all together
Pour the moulding agent into the hybrid bottle and then leave to set, Indy Mogul’s Oomoo took a few hours to set. Max Mold 30 takes a day to set. We weighted down the top to keep the bottle in place. Also, we cannot recommend strongly enough you use a funnel, we didn’t and we lost a fair bit of our moulding mixture as a result, also at one point the bottle fell off the bracket, so Indy Mogul may have been onto something with their block of wood offensive
Step 8: After the mould has set
Once the mould’s set, the hard part is getting the bottle out, cut neatly down two sides, but be careful not to cut too far, ideally you want to cut down to about two thirds of the thick part of the 330 millilitre bottle. It’ll take time and some teasing but eventually it’ll pop out.
CONFESSION: Our mould was decent but with a couple of air bubbles, a funnel would have definitely helped us, now for the sugar glass.
The Sugar Glass
Step 1: The Recipe
The recipe is as follows, Sugar, cream of tartar and glucose syrup (which is the equivalent of the corn syrup the American recipes all use). You also want food dye of whatever colour you want your bottle to be. There is also an option to use golden syrup, but that’ll result in a pretty brown colour.
Also notice the obscene amount of gaffer tape on the mould, this is to keep it closed during the pouring.
Step 2 Mixing
The ratio is 3 and a ½ parts sugar, 2 parts water, 1 part glucose and a quarter to half a teaspoon of cream of tartar. We originally opted to call 100 millilitres a part, but ended up with way too much and dropped it to 50, so assuming you can’t be arsed with the math, one part equals 50 millilitres
Step 3 Heat this bitch up
Apologies for the repetition, heat the mixture up to 150 degrees Celsius, 300 degrees Fahrenheit. A slow boil tended to make for a better, less sticky end bottle and heating the mixture up to fast can cause a slight browning/caramelisation
We added the food dye right at the end as it seemed to help with the colour of the finished bottles, no idea if that’s actually the case as we can’t find anyone else who specifically does it that way, but it seemed to help
Step 4: The Pouring
Tease the mixture in the mould being careful. You can probably do this on your own, but we used one to pour and one to hold the mould, which worked well. Once the mould is poured, rotate the mould whilst slowly pouring the mixture out creating a thick even coating, don’t be afraid to pour excess mixture out but make sure it is excess. A good guideline is that it will become thicker and pour slower as you turn it, once it becomes almost impossible to pour place it immediately in the fridge.
IMPORTANT: If you have any mixture left in your saucepan, simply add cold water and reheat till the mix (which will become solid really quickly once it’s off the heat) has melted. Then pour into a container you can throw away (empty food can will do) and chuck, do not pour down the sink, this will destroy the sink
DOUBLY IMPORTANT: Before you pour the mix into the mould, spray the mould with grease (we used spray cooking oil) to stop the bottle sticking, we didn’t with the first one, and it, well it end badly…………………… with tears
BONUS: if you pour the excess mixture onto a baking tray with foil or grease proof paper you receive free candy (sugar glass is edible)
The End Product
Leave the mix to set in the fridge (we found about 90 minutes to be optimum). When you take the bottle out the mould, tease it and be very, very careful. You need to keep the bottles in the fridge as they’ll pretty much become unusable sticky messes after about half an hour, (we found this happened anyway after about two weeks)
It takes a bit of trial and error refining the technique but it works
TIP: Once you smash the bottle, cleanup the broken bits of sugar glass as soon as you can, they become sticky quickly, are a bitch to get off the floor, and it’ll take about ten mops with different floor cleaners before you have a floor that doesn’t sound and feel like it’s made of sellotape.
Heat proof gloves
For the Mould
Bucket for mixing (large and clean, large and clean)
Regular drill (We actually couldn’t find one and used violence with a screwdriver instead)
Empty 2 litre plastic bottle,
Empty 330 millilitre beer bottle (Colour not important)
Max Mould 30
Solid long thing object (Bracket or block of wood)
Sugar Glass recipe
Cream of tartar
Glucose syrup (sold in most supermarkets)
Food dye (colour optional)
Written By Sam ‘Pimp’n apple tango is easy’ McKinstrie and Tom ‘guy who made the sugar glass’ Hinksman
See HFP’s videos at www.youtube.com/MrHFProductions
Why not be kind and drop HFP a like on facebook