The Glass Recycler
● By Enjoy Magazine
Store Front | Fire & Light, John and Natali McClurg
ENJOY: What products do you sell at Enjoy the Store?
John: Fire & Light handcrafts giftware and colored glass dinnerware. We have about 60 different designs — tabletop plates, bowls, goblets, that kind of thing. The other half is decorative accessories or gift items, like display bowls and paperweights.
ENJOY: How did you get started in this industry?
John: Up until a couple of years ago, Arcata Recycling Center was the largest in the nation. About 30 local people got together and started having potluck dinners and brainstorming about ways to use crushed, recycled glass.
ENJOY: How does the process work?
John: We buy clear bottles and jars from the recycling center. We have to manually remove the caps and cap rings. We crush the glass, then we wash it and weigh it out. For every 150 lbs. of crushed bottles and jars, we add different powdered minerals to create the color. We put it in the furnace and melt it overnight at 2,400 degrees. Then we reach into the furnace with a ladle, scoop up some molten glass, and either place in a mold or do a freeform piece. We pour it at about 2,200 degrees, and it starts to cool rapidly. Every piece is made one at a time and is hand-finished with a torch. Once it gets down to about 1,000 degrees, it goes into an annealing oven where it slowly cools. At the end of day, we program those ovens to slowly go from 900 degrees to room temperature the next morning.
ENJOY: What do people enjoy most about your products?
John: The beauty. The bright colors, the texture — it’s really pretty. It captures the light. Also, more and more people are appreciating that it’s handmade, and recently a lot of people are searching out American-made products. We create the only hand-pressed pint glass made in the United States.
ENJOY: Where are your products available, other than Enjoy the Store?
John: Our products are all over the country.
ENJOY: How much glass have you recycled?
John: We’ve used more than 7 million bottles and jars from Arcata.
ENJOY: Tell us about some of the special honors you’ve received recently.?
John: Last year, we were the small business of the year for California’s 2nd Assembly District. We also received an award for our sustainable business practices from our congressman in Washington, D.C.