The Last Straw: Interview with StrawsByCarli

 {all images: strawsbycarli}

I was really intrigued by the glass straws I found while cruising the interwebs, so I got in touch with Carli (of StrawsByCarli on Etsy) to learn a bit more about the process. Being such a good sport, Carli was down for a little Q&A interview with me for OMW! Cool, right? Not only are her glass straws beautiful and ecologically-responsible, Carli offers a lifetime guarantee on her work and also offers super-freaking-cute little carry cases so you can take your straw on the road. (And you know how much I love cute accessories, people. It's ALL about the accessories!.)

Why glass straws, you ask?

· Glass straws don't leach chemicals into your beverages like plastics do.

· For every use of a glass straw, one less plastic straw ends up in a landfill.

· One glass straw will reduce thousands of straws (think about how many times in your life you've used a straw and how many more times you will in your lifetime!)

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Q: Please share with us a little bit about your background. 

A: I have been a lot of things. A dotcom web monkey, an assistant naturalist, a tour manager for a Grammy Nominated musician, a coffee slinger, and now, a Mom as well. I majored in environmental science in college...I guess, in a way, it came into play in my work!

Q: Why did you choose glass as your medium?
A: I have been fascinated with it since my parents took me to the Corning Museum when I was seven. It is one of the few materials made by man and mother nature. It looks like a solid, but it is really a liquid; a VERY slow moving one. It fascinates me.

Q: What is your current favorite eco-friendly product, aside from your glass straws?
A: I have a set of bamboo utensils for eating on the go instead of using plastic ones. They come in a nice roll up fabric holder. I love them.

Q: Walk us through a typical day at the studio & what goes into making glass straws?
A: I made (and still do) flameworked art glass beads for several years before trying glass straws. So my studio is set up for working with glass, with the rods of colors, the tubing for the straws, and two kilns for annealing the glass after it has been worked in the flame. For straws, I sometimes make a huge batch to have for orders, and sometimes I fill orders as they come in, depending how much time I have, and if I am feeling like making beads or not when I enter the studio. I rarely do both at the same time. The straws are measured, cut, and polished in the torch so that the ends are smooth to the touch. If the straws I am making are bent, then I heat up the middle and bend them to the angle I desire. It is a lot like playing with glass tubing over a burner in high school science lab. Then I put them in my kiln where they anneal for over ten hours, slowly bringing them to room temperature so that they are sturdy and durable. The glass I use is borosilicate, which is basically Pyrex, so it is a very good glass to use to make straws. Drop one, and there's a good chance it won't break, like a Pyrex dish.

Q: How has Etsy helped grow your business?
A: I started selling my beads and jewelry first (juiceglass.etsy.com), but Etsy just rules for finding people who love handmade. I'm thrilled to have an arena where custom work is appreciated and desired over mass produced items. I not only sell but buy from so many great sellers who make quality work, and it is a fabulous place to sit with a cup of water (with a glass straw) and browse.

Eve: What big plans do you have for 2010?
Carli: I'm starting to work to get my straws in wholesale accounts, I have a couple and more stores are interested. The more straws I sell, the less plastic ones are headed for the landfill, and that makes me very happy. Other than that, my goals are pretty simple. My most ambitious, I guess, is to build my own beehive and try having some bees. But I have to build the hive first!

{Special thanks to Carli for the interview & good luck with the bees!}


Dan Reeve said...

nice read. very interesting.

MSM said...

Awesome! I want glass straws now too! CArli is kewl.

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