Ammy and Erika of Glasbolaget are Leading the Way to a Greener Glass Future
Our infatuation with the new generation female glass artists has led us to the discovery of eco-friendly glass studio Glasbolaget, run by Ammy Olofsson and Erika Kristofersson Bredberg. Here’s how they make the business of glass blowing a greener one.
Glass artists Ammy Olofsson and Erika Kristofersson Bredberg met at the Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design when studying for their bachelor’s degree. Sharing a vision for a sustainable glass future, they later started eco-friendly hot glass studio Glasbolaget together just outside of Stockholm. Besides doing their own commission work and holding courses within that space, they’re also providing a place for other artists to work and exhibit their pieces – even offering some job opportunities.
Although we’ve been thinking that the Swedish glass scene is booming, we’re learning that it’s actually coming out of a few hard years. A lack of jobs within the industry has forced glass artists to find new ways to practise their craft, causing a natural shift of perspectives. As an effect, a new generation of glass artist is stepping forward, making us believe the hype.
The definition of what a glass artist is has also changed, Erika tells us: “Before, the glass designer came to the glass blower with an idea, but today, the designer is often the one who works the glass too. This gives the artist a bigger freedom of expression and the possibility of realizing ideas in a more direct and hands-on way.” The beautiful work coming out of Glasbolaget really proves this a fact.
As in any production, the process of making glass generates waste, and only a small part of the leftover material is generally remelted and reused due to the occurrence of bubbles and other variations in the glass. At Glasbolaget, however, they don’t see this as a hindrance, and only work with recycled lead-free crystal – a rest product from other Swedish glass factories. This method gives a very natural result, and though there may be slight variations in color and finish, it has the benefit of being much more sustainable. “Most people think it’s beautiful when we explain why, and appreciate that our method of recycling is visible in the glass,” sais Erika, and Ammy adds: “Another benefit of recycling glass is that glass that has been melted before requires much less energy when being remelted, and melts on a lower temperature.”
Making glass does require a lot of heat, and power – the inside temperature of Glasbolaget’s oven measures 1120°C round-the-clock – which is one more aspect Ammy and Erika have considered and found a way to improve. “In a regular glass studio, the furnace is usually run on gas or electricity,”explains Ammy. “To melt glass you need a lot of energy, and what source you choose does matter. This is why we run our furnace on a special biogas that is a rest product from organic waste.” Proving that there are definitely better options and more sustainable ways to practise the craft, Glasbolaget hopes to inspire others to take the same, greener path; and in the new generation we trust.
Glasbolaget’s 5 Best Tips for Conscious Glass Consumption
1. Buy lead-free glass and crystal as it’s much better for the environment as well as the health of the artisans. Almost all Swedish-made glass is lead-free today.
2. If you live in Sweden, buy Swedish-made glass. Not just because it’s locally produced; we also have very strict regulations for the use of lead and cadmium in glass.
3. Buy glass that you want to keep for a long time.
4. The second hand market is great for sourcing cheap glassware, but you should know that old red and yellow glass can contain cadmium, and uranium is often found in light green glass. These colors probably shouldn’t be used as everyday tableware.
5. Be ready to pay more for handmade glass. If the price is too low, it probably means it’s not made under fair working conditions. Shopping on a budget? Get machine-made glass instead.
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