I've been saving bulbs with this sort of project in mind. I went with little winter scenes. The bottom is made of cork and wrapped with pipe cleaners. They work nicely on top of candle sticks or as bottle toppers.
To answer the question about getting the bottoms off, I do these steps:
- I wrap the bulb in fabric while I work to keep it safe. I also work over a trash can and work slowly.
- Use a pair of sharp scissors to pry the metal strip off the bottom. Pry the edge up and then it sort of rolls off.
- Use wire cutters to snip at the black glass that line the tip. It's really crumbly so do it over a trash can and go SLOW. I kinda snip at it going around a clock. At some point the pieces just fall off. Dump them out.
- I use an ice pick type tool to gently jab and the filament. When you break through you will hear a pop. (This is the step that's the hardest to do right and if it's going to break, it will be now.)
- Stir the ice pick around and the pieces will separate from the sides. Dump these out, too.
Then you have a clean bulb!