Philly artists are doing for our tableware what local farmers have done for our crisper drawers
In a glass-strewn studio in the basement of the Bok Building, a wiry man stood before a 2,000-degree furnace, spinning a long rod attached to the bottom half of a wine bottle.
Underneath the blue elastic sweatband tied around his forehead, his shades reflected the orange glow of the glass as he swiftly pulled it from the heat and took a seat on the bench behind him. Still spinning the rod, he placed a metal cone into the quarter-sized hole and blew into an attached pipe. The molten form inflated to the familiar shape of a stemless wine glass.
Remark Glass—one of the first businesses to set up shop last April in the newly restored Bok Building (formerly Edward W. Bok Technical High School)—salvages used glass bottles and “handcycles” them into striking new dinnerware. Cast-off bottles are given fresh life: what previously held a liter and a half of Woodridge Cabernet becomes an emerald serving bowl; a blue Riesling bottle becomes a delicate drinking glass; a Carlo Rossi jug becomes a clear, wide dinner plate.
“Glass is infinitely recyclable,” Remark co-owner Danielle Ruttenberg says. The artists clean each bottle after it comes in, usually from a local bar like Bok Bar (just a few floors above Remark’s studio) or Tria. The used glass also arrives via friends who bring their own empty bottles. It’s an act of recycling that’s more satisfying than tossing it in the big blue bin. You can even bring in a meaningful bottle—like the champagne bottle from your wedding—and Remark will turn it into a custom piece that you can use every day.
Remark’s pieces are designed for function and beauty; their distinctive character sparks a new level of engagement with a commonplace object.
“It sounds silly talking about something you eat off of every day,” Ruttenberg says. “But you spend so much time with these things you have in your home, you might as well enjoy them more thoroughly.”