Keuka College staff create wine bottle lamps to raise funds

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express
Keuka’s Office of Communications staff, with two of the decorative wine lamps sold on campus to raise funds for a memorial scholarship honoring the late Fred Hoyle, a Keuka colleague. From left, Gretchen Parsells, Sharon Ker, Rachel Dewey and Doug Lippincott.

Keuka College is located in the heart of Finger Lakes wine country, so it should come as no surprise that an enterprising member of the College staff came up with a novel way to extend the lives of empty wine bottles.

And when she involved her co-workers in the project, a newly established scholarship received a boost.

Communications Specialist Rachel Dewey turns the bottles, which once contained red or white wine, into decorative holiday lamps that contain white or multi-colored lights.

“When I first made some samples about a year ago, and displayed them in our front office, we got a lot of compliments on them, so I’ve been trying to think of how we could leverage that interest,” said Dewey.

Executive Director of Communications Doug Lippincott suggested the lamps be sold, with proceeds benefitting the Fred L. Hoyle Endowed Scholarship. Hoyle, associate vice president for admissions, died in October.

“We all miss Fred; he was not just a colleague but a friend,” said Lippincott. “I am certain that he would be delighted to learn that we turned Rachel’s creativity into a project that will help future students realize their dreams of earning a Keuka degree.”

“Fred was into wines and gourmet foods and all the culinary arts,” said Dewey, “so I believe a wine bottle lamp is quite fitting.”

The Office of Communications got word to the College community about the wine lamp sale in early December, and recently turned over $565 to the development office for the Hoyle Scholarship.

“We were heartened by the response of the College community to this fund-raiser,” said Lippincott. “It’s a tribute to Fred and the many lives he touched at the College.”

All of the supplies needed to turn the bottles into lamps were donated or purchased by members of the campus community. Some bottles were donated by Lippincott and Webmaster Pete Bekisz; Dewey also purchased a case of empty amber bottles from a winery about a year ago and donated others given to her from another winery tasting room.

After removing the labels from each bottle, Dewey - with help from senior Ryan Nichols -  affixed a “Keuka College” or “KC” decal—purchased at the College bookstore—to the bottles.

“(Communications Manager) Gretchen (Parcells) and Doug purchased the majority of the stickers and I chipped in for a handful of others,” said Dewey.

According to Dewey, a manual drill press, equipped with a diamond-tipped drill bit, is used to cut a hole in the back of each bottle.

“We were not able to do this on campus, so I took the bottles off campus to a craftsman I know who has a drill press and he drilled the holes,” said Dewey.

Dewey provided the light strands and carefully threaded them into the holes to finish each lamp.

“When plugged in, the lamps give off a warm glow,” explained Dewey, “and our hope is they will serve as a reminder of the many contributions Fred made that helped the College shine.”