The makers market event in Chennai aka Madras, dedicated to handmade & design by independent talent, artisanal & homegrown labels.
Today on the blog, we feature fused glass artist Ekta Doctor of WonkyWorks, Vadodara. She shares in detail about her venture, workspace, projects and Wonky Works showcase at our event in Chennai – By Hand From The Heart Makers Market.
Tell us a bit about yourself. What inspired you to start your business?
Hello! I am Ekta. I head WonkyWorks, a small, independent, Glass Art and Upcycling Studio that has an eclectic collection of upcycled glass products. Each handmade piece is created with the utmost care and artistic discretion tapping into years of Glass Art experience. All our pieces are made using techniques, colors and materials that are permanently fired, etched or fused into the glass at high temperatures, making them peel-free, fade proof, food-safe, and lasting, using best known techniques from across the globe.
Hmmm, let’s see how this started. I had a furnace. I knew how to melt glass in it. All I needed was glass. And then I melted my first used bottle! And then I melted more, and more, and hundreds more! Have you ever thought of what happens to the used glass bottle you chucked out – be it one that earlier had sauce, beer, or oil in it? The answer is nothing. It will not compost, rot, erode or rust. It will most probably lie in landfills, breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces of glass. Not breaking down into its main ingredients – silica (sand), one of the hardest minerals on Earth for a long long time. May be a few millions years. Maybe forever. Think about that.
The thought got me worked up, and I must admit, a bit excited as well. I looked into glass recycling and upcycling. I researched glass waste and disposal methods. I collected all the possible waste glass from my home – broken, discarded, unused – and started experimenting to make things out of melted glass. The heat needed to melt our upcycled glass pieces is very high. However, that is still about 40-50 percent less than what would be needed to make fresh glass. Not to mention the reduction in consumption of more raw material. Thus, less energy usage, less air pollution and water pollution, less water usage, and even less Greenhouse Gas emissions. Apart from this, it eliminates an entire tier or two of the recycling process that includes, collecting, sorting, processing and breaking down, converting, and finally, new manufacture.
Apart from that I feel it’s important to work with a material that’s extremely stable and sustainable in the long run as long as there is an organised waste collection system behind it. Glass waste collection especially broken glass is not something being done on a large scale and is something I would be interested to tackle in the future.
One of my earliest challenges was to create products that would have the finesse and design to appeal to mainstream customers, rather than just to people who were aware and conscious of Green Design and thus specifically searched for sustainable products. The growing awareness in India of the Green Culture helped to a certain degree, as did the innate sense Indians have to turn waste into something useful. It also helps that I make many versions of the products and test their user-friendliness on myself and with a closed group before placing the objects on display. This sometimes takes months and even years, but seeing knowing that the usability, design and functionality of each product is appreciated the satisfaction on a buyer’s face is worth all the time. Another challenge is pricing. Most people find it absurd that they are asked to pay Rs 600 for example, for a piece of glass art, when come to think about it, a three rupee, almost worthless bottle was melted to make it. Also, as most of my pieces are created at an independent studio level, my prices can never compete with factory manufactured products that use labour-intensive, techniques and are known to pay low wages. The price margins between my product and factory-made are high as a result.
But I am hooked to upcycling glass into well-designed products that please the eye and are different-wonky as some label these. This has actually led me to lead a greener lifestyle. I am ethically vegan since a year now and have been trying to ben zero-waste as well.
Tell us about your creative venture.
WonkyWorks is an independent Upcycling and Design Studio, one of the first in India, creating Upcycled Glassware, Sustainable Interior Design, Vintage + Upcycled Furniture, Art, Architectural Elements and Speciality Tutoring.
We work mainly with Glass (Kiln-formed, Blown and Etched), Found Objects, Junk and Waste to make an eclectic collection of Awesomely Handmade GlassArt, Functional Art, Tableware, Objet d’art, Holders/Stands, Planters, Lights and inexhaustible quantities of Bric-à-brac…
We also take on Architectural and Interior projects where clients are willing to use 90% waste as raw material.
We strictly follow the principles of sustainability, being green and ethical making. We believe that sustainable living choices can lead to long-term environmental benefits for future generations.
Our products not only help keep glass and other reusable materials out of landfills, but are also minimal, well-designed pieces made to last. In the age of mass produced uniformity, we celebrate the glitzy, the fuddled, the skewed, the piece that is absolutely unique.
Tell us about your work space.
My studio started of as a few shed-like rooms 8 years ago. Thankfully a leaking roof and lack of space resulted in the current Wonky Studio.
It’s a two floor studio in Vadodara Gujarat, in which apart from the said leaking roof, the entire first floor is upcycled. We had ourselves some good fabricators, engineers and a lot of steel scrap, along old windows and doors and voila we got our very own very upcycled very wonky workspace.
We also only employ women, with flexible working hours and 2 Saturday’s off.
What are your displaying at the By Hand, From The Heart.
Well, I ran into some trouble enroute from Gujarat and had to leave a few thing behind. Though I’ve got the best-seller, the SuperBatli, the Appetizer Plates, the flat Vodkas, the Mini Wonky Vases which are just awesome and some Upcycled Tealight Holders. Also loads of ‘Message in a bottle’s.
I’m also going to be introducing the range of Wonky Lockets, made from Watch Glass, Spectacle Lenses, and Medicine Vials. All discarded or found objects of course.
Meet the Maker @
By Hand From The Heart Makers Market 23rd Edition
Friday – Saturday
16th & 17th February, 2018
10:00 a.m to 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park, (old Adyar Gate Hotel)
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, India.