Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Monday, September 23, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Cloudy 55° Cloudy
News >  Home and garden

Upcycled Life: Plastic bottle vase

By Katie Patterson Larson For The Spokesman-Review

There are endless functional ways to upcycle a plastic bottle. Here’s one that’s also pretty to have around. Take any PET or PETE (Polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottle and melt it with a heat gun and then add texture with a soldering iron. The results are reminiscent of blown glass and certainly a lot of fun to make.

1. Find plastic bottles marked with a PET or PETE recycling symbol from your bathroom or kitchen products. Clean and remove any labels.

2. Cut the bottle in half with a scissor or blade and fully clean out the inside of the bottle.

3. Before getting started, read through all of the instructions and practice on the top half of the bottle. Get a feel for the tools and how the heat alters the plastic.

4. When you are ready, set the bottom half of the bottle on a work surface and use a heat gun (I used a craft heat tool intended for embossing) to apply heat to the bottle. Let the plastic take shape as it melts and creates new contours. Use caution here as the plastic can become very hot.

5. Next use a soldering iron to add texture and design. Gently apply the tip of the iron to create a dimple or a little more pressure to pierce the plastic. Play around with design here. Try organic and geometric patterns, vary how close the dots are and create texture by piercing the plastic from both the inside and outside.

Each bottle will melt a little differently so have fun experimenting and trying different colors and sizes of bottles.

Safety note: Always use caution with heat tools and use in a well ventilated work space. Even if the bottle was originally food safe I wouldn’t recommend consuming anything that has contact with altered plastics.

On the web: Find step-by-step photos with this story at

Katie Patterson Larson is the director and founder of Art Salvage, Spokane’s creative reuse center. Art Salvage keeps usable materials out of the waste stream and makes them accessible and affordable to everyone. Visit the Art Salvage store for more upcycled inspiration and to find gently used and new creative materials. For more information, visit Contact Patterson Larson at

Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter

Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.

You have been successfully subscribed!
There was a problem subscribing you to the newsletter. Double check your email and try again, or email