Green, green glass


With a background in replicating Victorian stained glass and repairing the white glass panels of Big Ben, local resident Tony McCarty was well placed to launch a lockdown enterprise repurposing used wine bottles

So, as a bit of a lockdown project, I decided to see if I could create drinking glasses using our waste wine bottles, drawing on 30 years’ experience of crafting stained glass. After three months of research and practice – and many broken bottles – I began to make progress.

It wasn’t quite as easy to make something useful and beautiful from an unwanted wine bottle as YouTube suggested, but I persisted, and thanks to my patient and understanding wife, I finally perfected a reliable method and created a set of six amazing drinking glasses with super smooth edges. The transformation from a resource doomed for the recycling bin to a uniquely beautiful drinking glass really hit home.

Our friends and family loved them and were only too willing to collect and donate their empties, which I then repurposed into more drinking glasses. Before long, I made my first sale. Amazing! New ideas for other products, such as table votives to self-watering planters, and glass dining table accessories followed, and I was ready to explore new ideas and test the market further.

Next stop was a visit to Bombetta, an excellent Snaresbrook-based Italian restaurant. Armed with a selection of samples, I met with Ben and Jo. They really liked the samples and particularly appreciated the sustainability concept. I agreed to take the restaurant’s waste bottles and created 100 wine glasses for their tables as well as designing table tea light holders, vases and olive bowls, all reflecting the restaurant’s style. The idea also proved to be a big hit with the diners. Five months later, they ordered 300 more products for their stunning, new industrial-style art gallery restaurant in Walthamstow, Arte e Pasta.

I am also pleased to have teamed up with Cera London, a small Wanstead-based chandler. Working together, we have tested and developed a new range of vessels made from salvaged Prosecco bottles for their scented candle range (available to buy online or from Daisy Florist on Wanstead High Street). When the candle is exhausted, you can take your jars back to Daisy’s for refilling. How’s that for sustainability?

In the meantime, if you would like me to repurpose your waste bottles into beautiful tableware or as a thoughtful, sustainable unique gift for a friend or loved one, do let me know what you are interested in.

It’s a great creative way for you to get involved in reducing your carbon footprint. But I warn you, you will never look at an empty wine bottle in the same way again!

To view and order Tony’s products, visit wnstd.com/tonysglass, or follow him on Instagram @tonys_glassworks