Old Town Glassworks Wins International Competition

| 9/26/2012 12:30:17 PM

FrankenblasterA small 'underdog' artisan recycling company in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories has just won an international competition that culminated in Long Beach California. It was an out-of-the-ordinary competition and it has landed the Yellowknifers a brand new piece of pretty high-tech equipment.

Old TownGlassworks produces beautiful artisan glassware from recycled bottles and jars on the shores of Great Slave Lake in Yellowknife's Old Town - surrounded by the buzz of float planes, the vibrant energy of the midnight sun and the shimmer of northern lights. Each piece features original northern designs and is individually polished, stenciled - and sand blasted by hand.

The work is done in a small log cabin workshop (the former Hudson’s Bay female staff house built in 1938) nestled into a rock outcropping of the Canadian shield.

At the heart of their operation - huffing, puffing and blasting away - has been a somewhat trusty, ancient, metallic green "Up-cycling Franken-blaster" (a sandblaster used to hand stencil designs onto the glass) purchased second-hand in 1994 from an elderly Uruguayan auto mechanic, who had previously bought it from a farmer down in Alberta. The farmer built the machine himself with schematics from the pages of Popular Mechanics.

The resident mad-scientist mechanic at Old Town Glassworks held this machine together and functioning using an old Rainbow vacuum cleaner as the vacuum source, a 4-liter pickle jar to collect the aluminum-oxide, hundred-mile-an-hour-tape patch work and often-replaced saran wrap windshield protector. It is primarily this TLC that helped the relic survive.

However, the years took their toll on this machine - and that's where the international competition comes in.

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