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Solution 16:30 31 Jan 2022

From waste to art: how Zhytomyr region solves the problem of glass waste

With the help of unique techniques, the folk master creates paintings, decor items, and even furniture from glass scraps. Rubryka explains how and why it is important.

What is the problem?

You've heard about this many times. This problem affects each of us and each of us (or rather our habits) is a part of it.

Garbage. Every year it grows more and more. Leftover food, plastic construction debris after repairs, unnecessary furniture, other household items, production and service waste… And glass. Americans alone produce 10 million tons of glass waste a year. And only a third of this amount goes to recycling.

What is the solution?

Currently, the global concept of reducing the amount of waste is mainly to sort waste, separate them from recyclables, which will then be sent for recycling. We are talking mostly about plastic, glass, paper, and metal.

Recently, the ideas of conscious consumption and upcycling are gaining momentum. And while this solution is gaining popularity in the field of fashion and clothing, the rest of the types of waste, including glass, remains less noticeable.

However, secondary waste is increasingly becoming an art object to draw attention to pollution. For example, this year in the French city of Bordeaux installed an 11-meter Christmas tree made of recycled steel and glass, and in Riga, they made it from the garbage.

Works of art with objects that no one needs are being created in Ukraine as well. Oleh Khromchenko, an artist from the Zhytomyr region, told Rubryka about how ordinary glass scraps turn into unique decors.

Як це працюєHow does it work?

The idea to use remnants of glass for stained glass art came to Oleh Khromchenko in the late '90s. Since then, the man has been working as a specialist in cutting glass for windows and doors, after the installation of which there are always a lot of scraps. The master didn't throw even small pieces of good material.

"When I got a certain amount of scraps, I started thinking about them. And one night or in the morning I had a thought that I should try to do something with them. I tried and it worked!" recalls Oleh Khromchenko.

So the artist began to use blacksmithing techniques, and from the waste of glass were born unique artistic compositions, metallic stained glass art.

Від сміття до мистецтва: як на Житомирщині вирішують проблему скляних відходів

Oleh Khromchenko

Metallic stained glass is the author's technology of Oleh Khromchenko. Unlike classic stained glass, in which colored glass is soldered together with a copper or brass profile into one solid array, Mr. Oleh's stained glass is a set of individual glass elements fastened with a metal frame. All ideas of metal-glass mosaics are also the author's one.

Від сміття до мистецтва: як на Житомирщині вирішують проблему скляних відходів

"First, I draw a sketch on a small piece of paper, then enlarge it, finish it on the format, cook a metal skeleton, and then insert glass. Stained glass can be broken, but here you can knock out only a small piece. The metal frame turns out like a lattice, so I call these works metallic stained glass," said the artist.

Від сміття до мистецтва: як на Житомирщині вирішують проблему скляних відходів

This door in the summer kitchen is Mr. Oleh's first work. It is more than two decades old. A little later, a fantastic window with a legendary Argonaut ship was added to the fantastic door with floral ornaments. And in the yard, the man built a building, which he calls the Cossack tower with stained glass. The master's grandchildren like to climb it, imagining themselves as Ukrainian Cossacks.

Від сміття до мистецтва: як на Житомирщині вирішують проблему скляних відходів

In this technique, the master makes gates, doors, decor items, and even furniture. He uses not only door glass scraps for stained glass: he collects colored glass all over the city; he uses glass from old verandas and lanterns, and even bottles from small mosaic elements. That is, what most people would throw in the trash is useful to him.

The work of creating each metallic stained glass artwork is time-consuming and requires patience. For example, Oleh Khromchenko spent about a year creating a chair in the photo.

Від сміття до мистецтва: як на Житомирщині вирішують проблему скляних відходів

Did he succeed?

Self-taught blacksmith Oleh Khromchenko never learned the craft of stained glass. He says he has this gift from nature. However, people are willing to enroll in a masterclass. More than 300 finished metal products adorn the homes of fellow craftsmen. Mr. Oleh's works are willingly ordered by both Ukrainians and foreigners.

A few years ago, Oleh Khromchenko restored stained glass windows in an old church in the nearby village of Ivankov.

Від сміття до мистецтва: як на Житомирщині вирішують проблему скляних відходів

The man speaks of himself as a creative person. He is a folk master, participant of regional exhibitions and regional festival of decorative and applied arts, Master June, in Zhytomyr, as well as blacksmith, glassmaker, artist, and poet (has his collection of poems dedicated to the defenders of Ukraine).

Even more useful solutions!

Oleh Khromchenko's love for stained glass art was also useful to the Andrushivka community. An improvised gallery of classic stained glass artworks has been operating in Andrushivka for 20 years. Earlier, these stained glass artworks were installed at the Zhytomyr Kolorit plant, their manufacture dates back to 1960-70 years.

In 2000, the plant was disbanded. It was then that the mayor Halyna Biletska came up with the idea to take the glassware to Andrushivka and set it up around the local house of culture.

Від сміття до мистецтва: як на Житомирщині вирішують проблему скляних відходів

Oleh Khromchenko says that all these years he takes care of the stained glass and sometimes, after the raids of vandals, restores them. It also provides additional protection so that glass products are less damaged.

And the works of Mr. Oleh himself decorate the city for the holidays:

Від сміття до мистецтва: як на Житомирщині вирішують проблему скляних відходів

The man says that over the years his hobby has become his daily routine. He doesn't feel burnout and fatigue. "This is my life, I'm inspired by it," says the master.

What else to do with glass?

If you're not ready to upcycle the glass yourself, the main thing is not to let it replenish the already huge landfills. Be sure to give the glass for recycling! Many yards already have separate containers for glass, and in our communities, you can find a variety of recycling initiatives from local activists and artists.

Detailed video instructions for sorting glass are here.

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