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Raise a (Recycled Wine Bottle) Glass to These Cool Finds

Posted Mar 09 2013 7:10am
So I'm cutting the darn bottles again, and not just for my own personal gifts-by-your-door vases this time. I've actually had a request for them, from a friend of mine who is serving on the board of directors of a very interesting non-profit (about which I'll write once I visit its operations) and is planning an artsy, recycled-materials fundraiser. 

My success rate of "clean cuts" depends on forces beyond my control, apparently, and can vary in range from 30% to 50%. I'm done having a broken heart when my favorite bottles get the dreaded last-second "stress fracture." It's just how it goes. They say success in life is trying 100 things and 99 of them fail. Sometimes that's what it feels like with the bottles.

When it works, however, it's a glorious thing. The joy of a clean break culminates in the gentle slipping apart of the top and bottom of the bottles, with the sweetest, slightest sound. Kind of a whoosh. It's hard to describe this little pleasure in life without you actually experiencing it yourself, but let's just say it's a moment of sheer satisfaction.

For anyone who is considering bottle-cutting, here is the story of my journey to learn how to do this , and to try to "make something" of it with the help of a whole slew of folks (including renowned artist Steve Penley and many other local artists). (We raised enough money for the food pantry garden for a year last year, which is why you haven't heard us begging for money again yet, and why we were able to purchase all that lovely fresh compost and organic fertilizer that just got spread--this photo of the garden is from this past Wednesday.)

Anyway, so I set this stage for you so you can understand why I almost fell over when I walked into a local vendor event in the Buckhead section of Atlanta yesterday and saw this. A table full of cut wine bottles from the Uncorked Glass Company

Now, I've seen things like this before, but they were painted as vases, like we did, or still had their labels on and were turned into candles, or, of course, they were those hydroponic grow bottles like we tried to make (which, frankly, never really worked but I'm not done with that yet--I have an idea . . .). These ones were plain. Plain as can be. They were being sold as drinking glasses, and sure enough, some magic had been performed that rounded and smoothed the tops of the cut bottles into lips from which it is suitable to drink without impaling yourself with glass shards.

I got to talking with Hannah Hart, whose husband, Daniel, does all the cutting, about the "lip secret." But she wouldn't budge--her lips were sealed. I did find out that Daniel cuts something like 150 of these a day, and he has an 80-90% success rate. I asked if he used the "wet saw method" to achieve that rate of success (this is how ridiculously into the bottle cutting I had gotten last year--extensive research and conversation about the "wet saw" method including where to rent one, cost justification, etc.) But no. He does the "water method," and way better than I do.

The glasses are gorgeous, and in all sizes. And as I am not a soda drinker, I had no idea how adorable little dimpled green Sprite bottles could be when cut (and darn, I meant to buy one of them, for just $8, but then ran into my friend, Melissa , and got busy talking).

Here's a cool idea that the Uncorked Glass Company can typically accommodate--have a set of drinking glasses made from empty wine bottles from any special event (such as a wedding). This makes a great everyday conversation starter and a very special gift. (Save more bottles than the number of glasses you ultimately want.)

As for me, I'm back in the bottle-cutting business--well, the volunteer business, that is. Still sticking with vases. Still tinkering with the wine-and-dine bottle garden idea. And still (as always) trying to improve my success rate. 

If you're in metro Atlanta, you can see the Uncorked Glass Company's products for yourself today from 10-5 at the Peachtree Road United Methodist Church. There are also something like 40 other local artisans and vendors, including two I specifically want to mention.

This young man is named Robbie Hart (I'm guessing no relation to the bottle-cutting Harts) and I am telling you right now, he is going places. I predict this is going to be one of the last times you will be able to meet him in this intimate a setting. I will write more about him in the future. Just trust me on this one. His product is called C4. Here is the website .

The other vendor is named Frannie's, and I don't think there is even a booth for this company. You get free samples when you pass through the entryway (and be sure to say a big hi to my friend Beth Bond of Southeast Green -fame! She is a major mover-shaker who is the very best tweeter I know.) Anyway, back to Frannie's--they make gluten-free muffins with mostly organic ingredients. My younger daughter and I took home samples of four different flavors and tried the chocolate chip ones right away. We give them two major thumb's up. And frankly, I'm getting sorghum flour as soon as I can and reworking some of my own recipes to include it. Bravo, Frannie's. These muffins work. Meet Frannie on her website here .

I wanted to talk about Re-Inspiration but there was no one at the booth when I was there, so that story will have to wait. I also was time-pressed and didn't make it to the Re:Loom booth, and I know they have a great story, plus is it possible that Marc Sommers of Parsley Catering was there and I missed him? My goodness, it has been years since I've seen Marc, and Parsley's is doing some major cool things (here's a little post I wrote about him in 2007). I won't have a chance to go back again today, so those stories will need to wait. But if you are local, you can go, and if you are elsewhere, you can check out some of these vendors' websites here .

Remember--you don't have to "buy local" just where you live to help boost local economies all over our FoodShed Planet. A rising tide lifts all boats--and gives us something positive to which to raise our recycled-wine-bottle glasses.  
eclectic food-for-thought for a changing world
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