The raw materials for all my vases are glass bottles I've collected from one place or another. I don't always know the stories behind them, but part of what makes upcycling fun is being sure that I'm adding to something that's already unique.
After I gather bottles, I take off their labels. If I'm lucky, those just float loose in warm water. If I'm not, removing the label involves a paint scraper, frustration, and something that smells like oranges would if they grew on a Turpentine tree. I like to pretend this doesn't take very long.
Step two for vases is cracking the tops off using a fracture tool and a small torch. I'm very good at this part, so I only have one scar from it!
Once the bottles are split, I start polishing the very, very, sharp rim of the part I want. I don't consider that done until the glass is shiny and smooth enough to drink from. The exact processes for doing that are hard to describe, but a list of the equipment required includes sanding belts, cones with diamond dust embedded in them, and a giant metal wheel that spins while a stream of grit runs down on it from a trough. These glass crafting methods are called 'cold working'. That's partly because the best way to grind glass without cracking it is to keep it coated with cold water the whole time.
The part of my work that takes the longest is 'decoration'. As for how I create my patterns? All I'll say is that it involves cutting out and placing shapes by hand. The number can range from three to over two hundred. Setting them up the right way is tricky - being off by a sixteenth of an inch can mess up a whole pattern!
Once I'm done laying out my designs, I want to make sure they'll never, ever, disappear. Fortunately, I'm able to rent the best sandblaster in New York City for the final step in creating my vases. A few minutes of shooting hurricane-force jets of sand at a piece of glass is usually enough to give it a permanent frosting.
When all that is over, I'll clean off the vase and decide that the work I put into it was totally worth while. I sign each and every one of them with pride.