Garden designer Scott Cohen doesn’t like to do the same thing twice. So when avid wine connoisseurs asked him to mimic the wine bottle-designed barbecue he made for their Simi Valley, Calif., neighbors, Cohen opted to steer the couple in another direction.
Working with 450 wine bottles provided by PRP Wine International Inc., an in-home, wine-tasting distributor, Cohen created a spirited waterfeature. Back-lit with more than 500 fiberoptic cables, it features three cascading sheets of water that resemble liquid glass flowing into the spa below.
But before executing his design, Cohen wanted to make sure the structural integrity of the bottles supported the 51/2-foot-tall project. “We met with our structural engineer to make sure that the bottles could handle their own weight,” says Cohen, president of The Green Scene Inc. in Canoga Park, Calif. “We found they are just as strong as glass blocks that you use in construction, so it worked out great.”
To support the weight of the glass, Cohen constructed the wall nearly 4 feet to the depth of the spa, with an L-shaped bottom for proper footing. The bottles were then mortared and stacked. “We used the same-sized bottles in a variety of colors,” he says, “and we tried to place them as randomly as possible.”
Different-colored bottles meant different lighting requirements. One or two cables of twinkling lights were sufficient for the clear bottles, while the darker glass required three or more cables. “It’s spectacular to watch the bottles dance,” he says. “It’s like looking at a Christmas tree.”
Securing the cables over a heated spa presented a challenge. “We originally dipped the corks in oil to make it easier to push back into the bottle,” Cohen says. “But when temperatures got warmer, the fluid caused the pressure in the bottle to heat and push the cork out.” Silicone sealer eventually solved that problem.
Cohen, who is a ceramic artist, fashioned 18-by-24-inch porcelain tiles on the left and right pilasters. “I made concrete castings of wine bottles and glasses, and created 3-D tiles,” he says. “Then I cast a frame, and handmade the leaves and grapes.”
For a project that was decidedly drunk with inspiration, Cohen says, “Nobody had any wine during the construction of this job. However, we toasted the end of the project with the homeowners with a wonderful bottle of chardonnay.”