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.