How did you get the idea?
My car was broken into within a week of moving to Cleveland, but I moved here to focus on my art, in a live/work warehouse loft downtown. I have many interests to explore, and after seeing this glass often in the street, I saw the beauty in it and started collecting and working with it. I landed on jewelry, and I’m glad many other people have been able to see the beauty in it, as well.
Why is the glass green?
Most glass contains some degree of green tint- if you’ve ever had a table with a raw glass edge, you’ll notice the edges are green. This is because you’re looking through the thick part of the glass so the green is compounded and much more noticeable. Similarly, the cracks in my jewelry scatter the light more so this green tint is more noticeable.
I don’t create the glass, of course, so I don’t fully understand the process. But from my research I’ve discovered that the reason for this green tint is iron, which is an ingredient of glass which acts as a lubricant and makes the glass smooth.
Will my jewelry break?
Cleveland Street Glass jewelry is made from glass that is already broken, and in the case of most of the pieces, this is what makes them most beautiful- the cracks. It is tempered glass which has already been compromised, so treat it with care, like a cell phone. Try not to drop it on a hard surface and avoid exposure to rough surfaces where it could scratch. Larger pieces like the one shown here are coated with a layer of resin epoxy which helps with the integrity of the glass, but is also subject to scratches. It’s recommended you store in its original padded packaging when not in use, or perhaps hang it in front of a window to enjoy the way the light shines through.
Do you ever get cut?
No, actually! This is all tempered auto glass, which is also called safety glass. It’s designed to not cut you, as the breaks are perpendicular to the thickness of the glass, so there are seldom any very sharp edges like in conventional glass. However there are at times small slivers which I need to watch out for, or if I kneel on a piece it could cut my knee (which I quickly learned when first foraging for glass).
Do you fuse the glass?
No, the large pieces of shattered glass are found like that on the street, and I try my best to keep them together during the process of creating jewelry. Auto glass is tempered, so it requires a much hotter melting point than regular glass, and we would lose the crack effect if it was fused back together.
Can you make shapes (a heart, etc.)?
Part of what I love about working with this found broken glass is all the random shapes that it comes in. If I try to break a piece of tempered glass to make a specific shape, it will often crumble. In some designs I will combine pieces of glass, however puzzling together specific shapes to create something recognizable is not my aim. I love the organic nature of the breaks, as I never know what I’ll be creating tomorrow!
Where do you get your glass?
I simply drive around Cleveland and look for piles of glass on the curb! Most of my glass is from my own neighborhood near Asiatown, where there are more homeless people due to the shelters in the area. Generally the homeless are not the issue, but one of the shelters is where ex-prisoners with no home or money are dropped off. Some of these individuals will break into a car just for the possibility of finding some spare change. But car break-ins also are prevalent in nicer areas and parks, as criminals take advantage of people who have and leave valuables in their car. I’ll usually do my rounds on a Sunday morning when the city is the most quiet/empty, and the car which has been broken into is gone by the time I get there. If the car with a broken window is still there, I won’t collect the glass, as it’s a scene of a crime and I’d look pretty suspect.
Is the glass clean?
Yes. Although the glass is found on the streets so it’s often initially dirty, I can’t start working with it until it’s cleaned, which is a tricky process where nice pieces of broken glass often crumble. Then in the process of working with it to apply metal, it’s cleaned several times over again.
Are you safe while collecting glass?
Thank you for your concern! There is little chance of me getting hurt. After a car is broken into (when parked on a street or in a parking lot) there is often a tidy pile of glass left on the sidewalk and curb. The criminals are long gone by that point. I merely sweep up and collect this glass. Usually as I’m sweeping up glass people perceive me as a victim and ask if I’m okay or if they can help! People usually don’t want to park over broken glass for fear of a flat tire, so they don’t try to park in the spot while I’m cleaning up. Please don’t picture me on the side of a freeway collecting glass from an accident- I don’t use glass from accidents, only car break-ins.
Do you have a police scanner or chase ambulances?
It’s not as glamorous as all that! I collect glass that’s left in the streets from car break-ins, only. So I never use glass from car accidents (I couldn’t bear the thought of someone being hurt!). Also, in my experience, police seldom show up for a simple car break-in. Often it’s difficult to tell when the break-in has occurred, as it’s discovered hours later. They generally won’t go through the trouble of fingerprinting, and it’s rare to catch the criminals or retrieve stolen items. Many people never even file a report. However, I encourage everyone to file if their car was broken into (you can do it online!) as it gives the police a record of how prevalent a problem it is in the area, and they can send out more patrols.
How do we prevent car break-ins?
I encourage everyone to call their insurance company and specifically request a $0 deductible on glass. It doesn’t usually come standard with your comprehensive coverage, and you can add it on for about an extra $6 a month, which is worth it for peace of mind. Usually a standard deductible is higher than the cost of replacing a window, so without a $0 deductible you’re out $150 or so after a break-in. It can be easily avoided with a simple call to your insurance provider. Of course there are further precautions you can take, such as leaving nothing in your car. Thieves take things you might think are worthless, and will not hesitate to smash your window even if you have nothing but a takeout coffee in your cupholder. That one happened to me, they opened the lid, perhaps thinking I had coins in the cup.
Where did you study?
I did not do any extra schooling. My parents were artists and entrepreneurs, and having grown up in that environment, I’ve always been hungry for learning and doing things in my own way. I have been working as a graphic and website designer since graduating high school, establishing brands, and that’s translated into my own brand, business, and art. I enjoy taking a variety of classes with local artists exploring my many interests, which impacts my work in unexpected ways.