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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, November 24, 2006

'Green solution' turns out glass art

By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Kaua'i Bureau

Glassworker Kathy Cowan pours molten glass into a sand mold created by artist Sally French, left. The glass was melted in a new furnace, which can burn propane and recycled vegetable oil.

Jan TenBruggencate

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What: Kaua'i Recycling for the Arts glassmaking demo and holiday fundraiser

When: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. tomorrow

Where: Kaua'i Resource Center, 3460 Ahukini Rd., Lihu'e

Information: 632-0555

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LIHU'E, Kaua'i Kaua'i Recycling for the Arts, a nonprofit created to make art out of recycled glass, has taken another step in recycling, giving up its electric furnace for one that can burn recycled vegetable oil as fuel.

With power costs rising, the electric bills to heat the furnace enough to keep a pool of glass molten were simply too high for the modest nonprofit, said director and glassworker Kathy Cowan.

The organization got Big Island artist and furnace builder Hugh Jenkins to make a furnace that could alternately use propane or recycled vegetable oil. The project had funding from the Atherton Foundation, Group 70 Foundation and the energy extension service of the county Office of Economic Development.

The furnace, fired up a week ago, is using propane now as the recycling group gets the necessary permits to collect, filter and process used oil, Cowan said.

"This is a good model and a green solution to Kaua'i Recycling for the Arts' mission of recycling, art and sustainability," she said.

At a recent session, Cowan worked with Kaua'i artist Sally French to make tiles out of recycled glass from old window louvers. French had created patterns on clay tablets, which were then impressed in sand, and the glass poured into the outlines.

Cowan and other island glassworkers provide regular tours and activities for schoolchildren, and make doll jewelry, ornaments and hot glass casts. Demonstrations of all these techniques are planned for a celebration of the new furnace tomorrow, which will include sales of recycled glass products for the holidays.

Kaua'i Recycling for the Arts operates out of a county facility, the Kaua'i Resource Center, that is next to the Lihu'e Refuse Transfer Station. The Kaua'i YMCA sponsors the Kaua'i Recycling for the Arts kids' program.

Reach Jan TenBruggencate at jant@honoluluadvertiser.com.