Creating Art & Jewelry from Recycled Glass

The shelves in Diana Branscome’s studio are filled with an array of neatly arranged, empty bottles of different colors and qualities – all awaiting transformation. They come from various sources, including restaurants, friends, and people who appreciate Bombay Sapphire gin almost as much as the artist appreciates its container. There’s a workbench, tools, buckets of glass pieces lying in wait, and a gleaming stainless steel kiln in her studio, located in the Beck-Cohen building in Downtown Charlottesville. Oh, and there’s a hula-hoop, which comes in handy for working out the spinal kinks after sitting at the be14541166186_b9890d5e45_nnch for a while!

Diana Branscome came to Charlottesville from Northern Virginia to attend UVA, and like many graduates, decided to stick around. After earning her law degree, she worked as a legal analyst for nearly a decade, but found that she needed an outlet for her creative energy. Branscome started making jewelry using semi-precious stones, and became interested in working with glass 14558761871_bbd8b29010_nas a medium after a visit to The Glass Palette almost a decade ago – and was hooked. When her employer downsized and phased out her department, Branscome decided the time was right to become a full-time jewelry artist. Her jewelry displays started to include more of her glass work, and eventually the gemstones gave way to glass pieces.  

 Branscome frequently creates commissioned pieces, sometimes using a bottle with special significance — a pendant made f14560872821_1b6ec6d80f_nrom a wine bottle saved from a romantic weekend in Napa, or a centerpiece bowl made from the glass tile remnants from the custom backsplash in a gourmet kitchen.

     14558791881_e22fc751be_nThe process starts by breaking up the bottles into pieces, which is much more labor intensive than you might think. How hard can it be to break a bottle, after all? In order to work with the glass, it needs to be cut, not broken. Branscome uses a tool called a wheeled glass nipper – a hand tool that will cut glass into tiny fragments – which can then be arranged and fused together. To make her signature ‘Ice Bowls’, thousands of these glass fragments are cut by hand, laid out and fired in the kiln to form a disc, and then fired a second time on a mold that will give the finished piece its desired 14375553928_f8f7dc9ef6_nshape.  The finished pieces are beautiful, functional, and unique.

 Branscome Glass can be found at the Charlottesville City Market most Saturday mornings, and many pieces are available for sale at C’ville Arts, an artists’ cooperative on the downtown mall, where Branscome is a working member. Her work can also be found at numerous galleries in Virginia, and at various locations across the US and in Canada, and on her website: branscomeglass.com.


July 19th. Peach tasting and Pie sampling

On July 19th Market Central is sampling a few different varieties of peaches from Cason’s, Sunset View Farm, Saunders Brothers and Vintage Apples as well as peach pie from Family Ties and Pies.  Stop by our tent on 1st street for what we think/hope will be some of the best peaches/pie of the season.  Recipe ideas and general fun included. 

Woodard Properties

Letter to City Council: City Market Design Endorsement

June 7, 2014

To Charlottesville City Council:

 Market Central has reason to believe that the privately owned 1-block surface parking lot due east of today’s City Market location will soon change hands for the first time since 1964 and become available for development, enabling a long-envisioned two-block development with a public plaza that would be a permanent home for the City Market.

 For more than a decade, Market Central and many others have advocated that the optimal permanent home for the City Market is a public plaza, designed from the start to house the City Market, within a mixed-use (commercial and residential) development of the two full city blocks between Water St. and South St., on either side of South First Street. This was the top preference of the 2011 City-appointed public task force, a 2005 blue-ribbon citizens committee, two national-expert consultants (Ted Spitzer/Market Ventures, 2013; David O’Neil, 2012), the Charlottesville Market District Alliance, and the City’s 2007 Market Value design competition. The community has a long and distinct record of consensus support for this vision.

 The longstanding impediment has always been the unavailability of the private 1-block parking lot, but in just a few months that obstacle is set to be overcome. In fact, two of the four new City Market design proposals anticipate this happening – the proposals from WVS and Woodard Properties. Both proposals envision the outdoor plaza space (and perhaps some indoor space) owned or managed by the city as a permanent home for the City Market.

City ownership or control of the market’s home is absolutely critical for the long-term viability and vitality of the market. Holding the market in a privately-owned parking lot displaces parking revenue, creating an inherent user conflict that is likely to gradually erode the market’s allotment of hours, space and, ultimately, its viability. In contrast, a public plaza accommodates phased growth that can build on the success of the current City Market. For this fundamental reason, Market Central does not support the two proposals that end public control of the market’s allotted space: those from Shank & Grey and from Equitable Real Estate Partners. The City Market has been relegated to a parking lot for more than 20 years, and it deserves better than just a new parking lot.

A two-block solution would be far superior to a one-block (or partial block) solution. With a two-block solution, the central plaza would be an exciting and memorable place that is a true public asset, serving as both a home for the market and, when the market is not being held, a public square that can be used for anything from outdoor dining to festivals and other events. Such a plaza would extend the Downtown pedestrian core southward, connecting the Mall with much recent — and future — redevelopment just south of the railroad tracks.

An integrated two-block project enables construction to be done in phases minimizing disruption to the City Market. For instance, one of the two blocks could be home to the market while the other block is under construction. A two-block project allows far more space-efficient underground parking, with fewer unsightly entrances required.

At minimum, City Council should do nothing that could derail a two-block development. As explicitly envisioned in the City’s RFP, Market Central and the undersigned urge Council on June 16 to narrow the field to the two proposals from WVS and Woodard, and further investigate both projects for financial and construction viability, including securing development rights within the next 6 months to the two private lots required for a two-block development. There should also be ample opportunity to revise and refine the proposals based on public input.

This is a once-a-generation opportunity to shape the fabric of downtown Charlottesville with what could be the most important project since the creation of the Mall. Knowing the stakes, we urge City Council to be bold and visionary.


Market Central Board of Directors & Staff
Cecile Gorham, Chair
Brevy Cannon, Vice Chair
Mark Watson, Treasurer
Kathy Kildea, Programs Coordinator
Chiara Canzi, Secretary
Eric Betthauser
Lynda Fanning
Nan Janney, Program Director

Lynette Meynig, Family Ties and Pies
Kent Brown, Crossing Brook Farm
Gail Hobbs-Page, Caromont Farm
Ben Thompson, Rock Barn
William Jones, Babes in the Woods
Lindsay Swan, Cygnet Hollow Farm
Patricia Anderson, Cricket’s Baked Goods
James Lum, J.M. Stock Provisions & Supply butcher
Toan Nguyen, C’ville Coffee
Kathy and Lena Zentgraf, Greenie’s
Joe Hollick, Pair-A-Dice Farm
Laura Dollard, Broomfield Farm
Robert Wade, Capital City Candle
Dawn Story, Farmstead Ferments
Chuck Geyer, Agriberry Farm
Debbie Donley, NAMEinals
Amanda Welch, Grubby Girl
Elena Day, Elena Day Pies and Produce
Lynn Eheart, “The Lemonade Lady”

Gary Okerlund
Gail South
Dave Metcalf
Jim Hingely
Katy Wingfield
Brian Sewell
Gene Corrigan
Lena Corrigan
Megan Murphy

Why this particular public space is important

Exciting News! On June 2nd City Council is requesting the public to comment upon City Market/Mixed-Use development plans. This is a big deal for an institution that represents an important space in the mind frame of most Charlottesville residents.

The City Market represents a once a week town square, where people from all over the community congregate and form one of the largest gatherings in Charlottesville, supporting local farmers, artisans, musicians and nonprofits. It’s where the dynamic of the city is almost surely best represented, hosting approximately 4,000  – 5,000 shoppers each week.

The Market isn’t exactly a moneymaker for the city nor is the metered parking lot where once a week vendors get to change the landscape of downtown to sell local goods. The City receives 6% sales tax from City Market vendors on average annual revenue of approximately 1.7 million dollars (2013 estimates), plus, whatever the metered parking brings. It cannot be providing substantial tax revenue, given the escalating value of the land. The space has great value for other intangible reasons, which would be lost forever if a Wegmans were allowed the development rights.

 I grew up in Los Angeles and have watched sprawl become uncontrollable in terms of traffic, pollution and quality of life. Charlottesville seems to have a responsible growth ethic, keeping an emphasis on local merchants, in contrast to the county of Albemarle that supports an older economic growth model of mini-malls, big box stores and fast-food. Let us make sure that this most important public space is best utilized for the benefit of the community and not just in terms of the financial gains it may accrue. Please join the discussion on Monday, June 2nd at 7PM in Charlottesville City Council Chambers.