Giving Glass A Stylish Second Life
One of my favorite sustainable materials lately has been recycled glass. According to the Glass Packaging Institute glass can be recycled endlessly. It can be collected, melted and reshaped without loosing quality or purity. Today I even took an introductory glass blowing class since I’m fascinated with its design qualities. It’s incredibly flexible and can be used for tableware, furniture, jewelry, and of course packaging materials such as everyday household items like bottles or jars. The glass making process requires a lot of energy with or without the use of recycled glass. Both processes use furnaces and other plant or studio equipment. That’s why I like designers like Kathleen Plate from Smart Glass who reuses glass rings cut from existing bottles by repurposing them into modern looking chandeliers, glass wall installations or jewelry. Not only do they keep waste out of landfills but also replace traditional lighting or jewelry materials that might not be as eco-friendly. Her creations are made directly from recycled bottles like a striking chandelier made with cascading glass rings. It was one of my favorite designs at NYIGF last month since I really liked how the hues of blue created a beautiful color gradation that reminded me of a waterfall.
Every design from Smart Glass is one-of-a-kind and handmade at Kathleen’s studio in Atlanta. Other items made out of recycled bottles such as beer, wine, vodka, sake and even Coca-Cola include earrings, small pendant necklaces, bangles and cocktail rings. It’s great to see how the signature glass rings cut from empty bottles come to life as jewelry with a simple and sophisticated elegance. Sometimes they are used as small pendants and other times grouped together like in the chandelier necklace made from sake bottles or as an asymmetrical necklace in amber, sage, and clear colors. Each glass ring looks completely unique by itself but then also blends in perfectly as a building block in the designer’s bigger art pieces and installations. All of them show how a small ecofriendly design idea can make a big statement.