Visiting the studios is a fascinating opportunity to catch a glimpse of works before they’re gallery-ready, and to see how our artists turn sparks of inspiration into the art you see displayed. Today, Marika is giving us a behind-the-scenes insight into her current upcycling project.
This unusual project started a few months ago, when a friend came into the studio with a specific request. He had some empty wine bottles in a beautiful thick blue glass, and he wanted to turn them into drinking glasses. Could we help?
Of course we could! We just needed to find the right tools and get started.
I hadn’t used this particular tool before, so it took some experimenting for me to figure out the most effective way to use it. The bottle cutter has a little blade held in a frame that allows you to rotate the bottle over that blade, scoring a nice straight line which then becomes the breaking point. To snap the top of the glass off, the scored line needs to be heated and then shocked with cold.
I experimented with a lighter, a candle, and even a small handheld blowtorch. I found that the torch heated the glass too much, causing it to crack up and down the sides when dunked in cold water. In the end, the approach which worked best was to use the candle, rotating the bottle over the flame, and then taking a single ice cube and running it around the edge. The top of the bottle comes right off!
I was left with a beautiful set of glasses, but of course they all had very sharp edges. The next stage was to use a special attachment for our drill press to grind the sharp edges off. Finally, I sanded the edges by hand using a fine grit, making the edges rounded and safe for putting your mouth to.
Our friend was super happy with the glasses I’d made, and I was inspired! This is a fun and relatively simple project to do in the studio; plus it upcycles discarded bottles into beautiful, functional glassware, which is an added bonus. Ever since, I’ve been on the lookout for interesting bottles that I could adapt in this way!
I started thinking about ways to improve the process and add interest. I realized I can customize the glasses by creating stencils and using the sandblaster to etch designs on the glass. It’s a beautiful way to create unique, customized designs. I’ve made designs with all kinds of influences – art deco, sacred geometry, Chinese folk art, there’s so many ideas to play with!
I currently have 10 or 12 finished pieces and a whole bunch in process, from bottles I’ve soaked the labels off in preparation for cutting, to ones just waiting to be sanded and finished. I think the finished glasses are going to be really fun additions to our gallery and a great way to encourage people to recycle!
Our artists love being asked to use their creativity to create something specific. Whether it’s a gift for someone dear to you or a bespoke addition to your home and office, we’d love to talk to you about creating a piece that’s personal to you. Click here for all the details you need to plan your visit.
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