Gabrielle of DesignMom.com posted a blog on how you can drill a hole into a glass jar specifically for projects such as this. I couldn't wait to make a trip to Lowe's so I could get the necessary drill bit.
Our next step is to start drilling. I picked up a glass and tile bit that she recommended for about $11.00 at Lowe's. The bits come in various sizes - Gabrielle had used a 3/8" bit and said it was a tight squeeze trying to get the lights through the hole. I went up one size to the 1/4". It may not seem like much, but it made getting the lights through much easier.
A couple of things you need to know about using this bit. First, you need to keep the drill at a low speed. Going too fast will cause the glass to shatter. Slow and steady is key with this project. It will take you at least 20-30 minutes under the best conditions (a fully-charged drill) to get the hole done. Second, keep a small cup of water handy. The bit's packaging recommended keeping the area we're drilling moist.
The first couple of minutes is the trickiest. The bit will try to move around on the bottle until it forms a groove to grasp on to. Keep an old blanket or towel underneath the bottle for extra support and to catch the shavings as the hole forms.
If you look carefully, you can see where the drill got away from me and scratched the glass a little.
As you go, you'll want to clean the area with a towel and add more water. You will see a lot of powder appear as you get further into the glass. You may also see what appears to be smoke... it's okay. The bottle isn't going to catch fire.
The moment when you can actually see a workable size hole is so relieving. There's something about that fear of the bottle breaking that can make this craft very stressful. :)
Once done, the hole should be big enough for you to slip the mini lights through one bulb at a time. Be careful - the bit does not smooth the edges so it would't be difficult to cut yourself.
Now, this is actually the second bottle I've made. I had a "Duh!" moment with the first one when I went to stick the lights in and realized that buying a 2-ended strand of lights was foolish. For a wine bottle, a 35-count strand with only 1-end (the plug) is my recommendation. I went ahead and used the 2-ended with the first bottle, leaving just the ends hanging out. It was tight trying to get the lights through (it was also a 50-strand and very cramped inside the bottle).
Now, it's as simple as feeding the bulbs through the hole one at a time. This may seem like tedious work, but it actually goes fairly quickly.
Here's a tip, if you have a crochet hook handy, use it to go through the top of the bottle to help pull some of the lights toward the neck. It makes the lights look more spread out and glow throughout rather than just in the body of the bottle.
When you're done, you'll have a beautiful lamp for an end table, the top of a bookshelf, or wherever else you want to put it. You can decorate the outside of the bottle with a beautiful ribbon or whatever else you please, or just leave it plain.
I think I'm going to do the apple cider jar and paint the outside with a pretty Christmas-themed design.