Millions of used bottles are discarded every year, but one Melbourne-based designer has found a way to make use of them. Sourcing bottles from local bars, restaurants, cafes and house parties, multi-media artist Ruth Allen washes, cuts and heats the reclaimed glass and morphs them into everything from drinking tumblers to vases to jugs. Her works make up a beautiful new glassware collection she calls Sustainable Stubbies.

Continue reading below
Our Featured Videos
Image © Zosia Fabijanska

Ruth Allen has been a glassblower for more than twenty years. Over recent years she became increasingly worried about the impact of her profession on the environment. This concern inspired her to look at existing manufactured bottles as a base material for her works.

To ensure her products have as little impact on the environment as possible, Allen also wraps the glassware in old newspaper and transports them in boxes collected from local stores.

Her most recent addition, In the Spirit, is inspired by the elegant form of the Sambuca bottle, and consists of a vase, a jug and six drinking tumblers. The tall, narrow Sambuca bottle lends itself well to being a jug, with its narrow neck providing an easy grip for even the smallest of hands. The shape is also ideal as a vase that can hold a small elegant bouquet. The complementing drinking glasses in the series remain true to their origins, perfectly maintaining the faceted sides of the original bottle’s base.

Rather than trying to make all the items in the collection the same, Allen celebrates the individual characteristics that make each bottle unique.

In the Spirit is shortlisted for the Sydney Design Awards, Melbourne Design Awards and is also a finalist in the Launch Pad InDesign award. Ruth Allen’s Sustainable Stubbies are available at her webstore.

+ Ruth Allen