Recycled glass was one of the first things we bought for our home when we moved to Yangon in 2015. We actually bought them from an old glass factory which was smashed to pieces by a cyclone in 2009. You can pick through the debris and find pieces still in tact (....remarkable! Perhaps too remarkable 🤭). There are a few issues with them though: they're a bit rough and ready, each salvaged tumbler comes with 99 mosquito bites, and in theory (!), once they're gone, they're gone. So we needed something more sustainable.
We wanted them to be heavy and cold and smooth. To be comfortable to hold. A treat to drink from.
But we didn't want them to be identical to each other. We wanted each to have their own character and flair. Like people. No two the same.
So each set of 4 is a little motley crew. They're slightly different heights and widths, and each has swirls, ripples and bubbles making it different from the next.
Their main job is making teeny tiny glass jars for homeopathic pills (big business over here). These are made semi-automatically using moulds and presses. But our glasses are made entirely by hand, as are the fluted vases which are their second most popular item, bought for flowers at buddhist pagodas.
Until three years ago the demand for hand-blowing was dwindling: they went down from 5 to 2 hand-blowing furnaces. But since people like us have been ordering from them, this has reversed, and they've gone up to 8 hand-blowing furnaces, matching the semi-automatic ones for the first time in 15 years. They also now have a training programme in place to keep the craft alive. Hurrah!