Danielle Ruttenberg wants to make one thing clear: She is not an alcoholic.
“I get asked that all the time,” said Ruttenberg, the 34-year-old cofounder of Remark Glass, an artisan studio in the Bok Building that turns used beer, wine and liquor bottles into functional household items like glasses, light fixtures, vases and serving bowls.
“It’s my favorite question: ‘Where do you get all those bottles?’” she said, explaining that no, they don’t come from crazy parties she throws at her Point Breeze home.
The used containers Remark gives new life are donated by a combination of friends, neighbors and local breweries, wineries and bars, a handful of which have formed a special relationship with the glassblowing outfit.
One is Tria, which operates two wine and beer cafes that go through hundreds of bottles a week. “They do really big deliveries to us,” Ruttenberg said. “Apparently it’s just as easy for them to hold the bottles for me as put them through the standard recycling process.”
During the summer, the Bok Bar is another. Since Remark has a good relationship with Bok landlords Scout Ltd., who also run the seasonal rooftop beer garden, Ruttenberg and business partner Rebecca Davies have even made special requests of them, like suggesting they order a certain riesling because the bottle is unique or cool.
The family that runs Dock Street Brewing has also donated used bottles and growlers, and on Wednesday, Oct. 25, they’re hosting Remark for a glassblowing pop-up at the Dock Street Cannery in West Philly.
Using a mobile kiln rented from a friend, Ruttenberg, Davies and several of the other artists that work with Remark will melt, blow, twist, sculpt and tweak used Dock Street bottles into new vessels. The demo is free to watch, but tickets are available ($35 and up) that include a beer to drink during the session plus a selection of one-of-a-kind tumblers or tasting glasses to take home.
What you’ll see if you go will be the crafters thrusting bottles into the 2,000°F heating chamber, breaking off the necks, then shaping the base of the bottle (also called “the volume”) into usable drinking classes. The necks themselves will be used as decorative elements.
Although the City of Philadelphia does accept glass for recycling, Ruttenberg said she’s heard from several people that a lot of it ends up discarded.
“We’re pretty much a no-waste studio,” she explained. “Glass is an infinitely recyclable product, why not give it a forever home?”
Remark is currently working with Art in the Age on the relaunch of its Old City tasting room, turning leftover liquor containers into cocktail stirring pitchers, decanters and rocks glasses. Ruttenberg said she’d love to continue to grow the studio so it can take in used bottles from even more operations around the city.
Could Ruttenberg keep up if lots of other Philly breweries and bars and wineries and distilleries wanted to work with her? For sure, she said. “I would welcome the challenge.”
Remark glassblowing demo, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 25 at Dock Street Cannery & Lounge, 705 S. 50th St., 215-726-2338.