Ruth Allen

Since studying at the Canberra School of Art, ANU, Allen’s glass practice has taken on many forms, including running a hot-glass studio in Auckland and undertaking a Masters degree at Monash University. Within her artistic practice she is known for creating large-scale glass installations, which often incorporate light, sound and movement. After finishing her Masters, Allen and her partner purchased a warehouse that they transformed into a glass studio. Here, Allen sought to find a commercially viable product that could help support her artistic practice and be a profitable outlet for her craft skills. From this she developed Sustainable Stubbies, a project that upcycles used glass bottles, combining her skills as a maker with her desire to create a sustainable practice.

Sustainable stubbies, 2014
Reclaimed and hot-worked glass

Working with recycled glass means that Allen works with a fairly limited range of equipment in the studio. Using a kiln to bring the glass bottles up to a working temperature, she has no need for a furnace. She has developed custom equipment for the upcycling process, including an old bathtub with burners underneath where bottles are simmered and scrubbed to remove the label and adhesives. Allen works with a small team, which grows and shrinks depending on demand and the time of year. It is a laborious process, but Allen says she enjoys the challenge that each bottle brings.