How to shape independent artisans into a business network

Ruttenberg — along with classmate Mark Ellis and his wife, Rebecca Davies — started to experiment with reshaping individual recycled bottles into hand-made glass products, such as bowls, barware, and light fixtures. They were driven by their collective concerns about the environmental impact of glass’s energy cycle — from mining silica to make it, to the energy used to transport it, to the heat required to recycle it.

Mark Ellis works at a furnace at Remark Glass in the basement of the Bok Building in South Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

“How can we whittle this down a little, and locally source material that’s literally at our feet?” she said. “Troubleshooting the intricacies of working with a commercial-quality glass, versus glass that is manufactured for artistic reasons to have that smoother quality, just took some trial and error. Look what we have now.”

What Ruttenberg has now is a business with 10 employees…

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