champagne bottle

Try This: Sandcarving Personalized Champagne Bottles

With over 35 years in the glass business, Ruth Dobbins offers experience in fused and cast glass, as well as in glass-etching techniques. Ruth holds a Master's Degree in Printmaking and Art History and has been a partner in a stained and fused glass wholesale supply company in Europe, which also placed great emphasis on a training program. For the past 20 years, she collaborated with her husband Norm Dobbins in commission work, writing books and creating videotapes on how-to techniques for glass etching. Ruth taught these techniques for 30 years in the U.S. and other countries. Ruth continues these venues by offering a complete training program at Aliento School in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and by teaching at various trade shows, including The Awards & Engraving Show. One-on-one training and consulting services are also offered. You can reach Ruth by email at, by phone at 505-473-9203 and by fax at 505-473-9218. Check out the website at

Ringing in the new year simply isn’t the same without a bottle of champagne. Customizing a bottle of bubbly, on the other hand, can take the special moment to the next level and make it one to remember.

Materials Needed

  • Champagne bottle
  • Sand drying rack
  • Masking tape
  • Stencils
  • Razor blade
  • Painting tools (varies depending on method, please see Step Three)
  • Glass cleaner
  • Scrub pads

Important to note: Because glass bottles are filled with a liquid, and in the case of champagne bottles, a liquid that requires careful handling, it is important to avoid the champagne getting too warm or shaken up while working on it, to avoid “blowing its stack.”

Other points to observe along legal lines: You should ask your client to purchase the alcoholic beverage and bring it to you for processing, since it’s likely that you do not have a liquor license. Also, leave the back label on the bottle since it informs of the exact contents, and who bottled the beverage and where. (This means that you cannot simply take the bottle and totally submerge it in water to soak the front label off. To help us with this task, we use a plastic dish drying rack, which cradles the bottle face down and won’t let it roll around in the water.)

Step One: stencil application

Depending on the examination of the image and text detail, and also on the depth to which you will blast, that will determine which photoresist you are going to use to make your stencils. You already know this process, as well as the application of the stencils. You need to decide if you need to mark the position of the stencil with a marker before stencil application or not. I myself am more the “eye balling” type.

After the stencils are applied, you must protect the remaining labels and seals on the bottles. We use cling wrap to cover the whole bottle, except the front stencil area. Then we tape around the stencil area, making sure that there are no gaps between the tape and the stencil. 

Step Two: blasting

We blast using 220 grit silicon carbide until we are satisfied with the depth of the blasting. Depth is necessary for the painting process.

Step Three: painting

After the bottles are blasted, you need to decide which painting method to employ—this decision is going to determine how you proceed…

  • Option one: spraying paint on with stencil on. Leaving the stencil on will contain the spread of the paint but will require the removal of the stencil relatively soon after painting. The time frame for this is determined by the drying time of the paint you use. You do not want to let the paint cure before stencil removal as it will form a bond with the stencil and will tear upon removal, serrating the edges. This will not give you a clean edge around your shapes.
  • Option two: spraying paint on with stencil off. When you remove the stencil prior to painting, you need to re-tape around the areas to be painted to somewhat confine the spray. Then, after the painting is completed, you need to wait until the paint is dry to the touch before using a razor blade to remove the paint from the un-blasted portions of the bottles.

For either option, you can use spray paints, such as Krylon, Rustoleum or Valspar, or, if you want to use an airbrush to achieve gradations, you would use a regular airbrush with water-based airbrush paints. This requires that you know how to use an airbrush, which takes a little time to master. The drawback to bottles of spray paint is that the nozzles often clog up before you have a chance to use all the paint. Both of these methods require air ventilation and/or exhaust systems for painting indoors.

  • Option three: using paint pens to apply the color. For this process, I removed all the stencil material as well as the cling wrap. I cleaned the blasted surface well then applied the paint in select areas, trying to keep the area level for drying before going to the next area. I found it helpful to depress the tip on another piece of glass to get the paint flowing before moving back onto the bottle area.

Paint pens can be bought with wide or small tips. Some are water-based paints while others are oil based. The difference lies in the drying time. Both types say they are permanent after drying and can also be used on food-containing objects.

Step Four: cleaning

After all the painting and cleaning was done, I scrubbed the bottles with glass cleaner and scrub pads.