Hi, we are Ian Hankey, Richard Glass and Andy Bradford and we are launching a new community interest start up company called Upcycled Glass, based in South Devon. We aren't trading yet, and need your help to set up a unique small sustainable glass workshop.
Ian is an expert in glass and new technologies, Richard is an award winning designer and expert glassmaker, and Andy runs Brimpts farm in Dartmeet, Dartmoor.
It's a really exciting project, and we need you to pledge whatever you can afford to help us. If you can't don't worry, you can still help us by sharing what we are doing to your family and friends.
Earlier this year, glassblowing was added to the 'critically endangered' category of the Heritage Crafts Association, mainly because the costs of running a workshop have become simply too expensive for new start ups. Along with extremely high fuel costs, UK glassblowers now pay up to £2,500 a ton to import ‘art’ glass material from the EU - that's the raw materials that we put in the furnace to melt before we can even start making!
Wouldn't it be great if we could reduce those costs? Well, we can!
In the UK and EU, we currently recycle about 71% of container glass, but end-of-life building waste glass is almost never recycled into new glass products, and mostly ends up in landfill.
As there are no UK manufacturers of glass suitable for hand made art and design products, we intend to make our own, using a mix of waste glass and local sustainably sourced materials, harvested on Brimpts farm. The way we do this is through a mix of new technologies, modern farming methods and historical glass mixing processes that go back to the 17th century!
Our unique approach will reduce costs for glassblowing studios, and emissions for melting glass, as the glass is already 'formed' as waste. We will also reduce emissions for road transport and shipping across the world, and demonstrate a way to reduce the landfill waste glass mountains, which are recognised globally as a major environmental problem.
Before we can do anything, we need to build a new small workshop in an unused building on Andy's farm, with bespoke glass mixing and furnace equipment that we can use to refine and upcycle the waste glass and harvested plants. It will need a concrete floor and a water and electric supply, before we can begin to convert it into a working hot glass studio.
As well as the concrete floor, water and electrical supply, we need you to pledge money to help pay for the materials and equipment we need to melt and work hot glass, including a furnace, kiln, torches and an assortment of worktables, racking and benches.
We want to purchase consumables and ingredients that we will need to refine and upcycle the waste glass and locally sourced materials. We'll also need to buy health and safety equipment, face masks, safety glasses and fire extinguishers.
Once the equipment is in place, we need engineers to test, commission and certify that the workshop is safe and ready to go!
As an added bonus, when we sustainably harvest plants that are abundant on Dartmoor, a nuisance to farmers but not financially worth harvesting before now, what will automatically grow in its place will be new wildflower meadows!
We will be careful not to create ecological problems with the removal of some of the bracken on Dartmoor. We will establish a sustainable method of ensuring enough crop for each year. However, we believe that removing lots of bracken rather than burning it will have significant advantages.
Bracken is ideal habitat for ticks which spread many diseases in sheep, grouse and wild birds. Parts of the bracken plant are toxic – causing organ failure if eaten by farm animals.
However, this plant was used as an additive in very early glass production.
Having started his career as a gas engineer at Pilkington Glass, Ian has built and maintained many furnaces over the years, ranging from larger one ton capacity models, down to small units of 25kg capacity. He developed and demonstrated a new type of furnace in 2012 which reduced fuel costs and emissions by as much as 70% compared to standard furnace designs. The furnace was tested over a 12 month period at the Shops at Dartington, on the Dartington estate in order to assess costs and conduct glass melting experiments using recycled glass. http://ianhankey.blogspot.com/
When we add the huge savings from making our own upcycled glass, we will create a brand new business model for glassblowing studios, sustainable both ecologically and financially, that will in turn pave the way for lots of new start up businesses.
- Our local community, reducing waste glass going to landfill, and doing something wonderful with it.
- The local community environment, with the creation of new wildflower meadows on Dartmoor.
- Our local community, offering glassmaking experiences and workshops for beginners.
- The local community, offering history and heritage experiences relating to a 17th century glassworks site recently discovered on Dartmoor.
- The wider community, reducing transport and shipping emissions.
- The UK glass community, providing a new business model and training for glassmakers wishing to start their own low cost, sustainable workshops (Our taster sessions and workshops will be taught by master glassmakers, and our courses conceived and run by a highly qualified teacher and lecturer in Art, Design and Communication, with many years of experience teaching adults and children).
- Glassmakers wishing to hire a small, low cost workshop to make their products.
- Artists wishing to collaborate with expert glassmakers on funded projects.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read about our project. We hope you will agree that this is a very exciting opportunity to do something amazing for the environment, for our community and to regenerate an endangered skill sector.
If you would like to help us build our first Upcycled Glass workshop, please donate what you can. Or, if you would like to choose a reward, take a look through the list you can choose from on the right of this page. Scroll through and see if there's something that you want that relates to what you can give. Make a pledge and help make this exciting idea a reality.