How Recycled Glass Awards are Made

How recycled glass is made

Glassmaking is an ancient art, and has changed little over the centuries.  A time-travelling Roman or Egyptian could arrive at a glass foundry this morning and likely be working at capacity by lunchtime (if not distracted by a smartphone or food truck).

Here's the process:

  • Window pane glass (from residential donation or construction demolition) is crushed into small pieces.

  • The crushed glass is mixed with metals or metal oxides.

  • The mixture is fed into a glass furnace at a slow, controlled rate. 

  • The furnace reaches temperatures between 1,427 and 1,538 degrees Celsius (2,600 and 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit). The melting point of the glass depends on its composition.  

  • Once heated, the metal ions absorb certain wavelengths of light (varying depending on the metal) which lead to the appearance of color. 

  • Once it reaches casting temperature, the molten glass is cast (poured by hand) into a graphite mould.

  • Since glass solidifies quickly, it is easily removed from the mold by sliding a cherry wood spatula under it and lifting off the mold.

  • Glass will crack if it cools too quickly, so the piece is moved to an annealing oven to eliminate stress and slowly bring it back to room temperature.

  • Once cool, the glass is ready for sandblasting.

A recycled glass award is the perfect planet-friendly alternative to an engraved crystal or acrylic trophy.

Many thanks to the non-profit Aurora Glass Foundry for teaching us about the process and creating our beautiful recycled glass awards.