Creating Art & Jewelry from Recycled Glass

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.

Lynette Meynig of Family Ties and Pies

Lynette Meynig of Family Ties and Pies

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Lynette Meynig has worn many different hats throughout her life, but has loved baking since she was a little girl. The idea of transforming her then creative outlet into a successful business, however, came much later in life – after a husband and two kids.

Her first passion was dance. A New Yorker by birth, Lynette graduated from Butler with a dance degree and performed at the prestigious Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Dance is also how she met her husband Scott — in a Ballet Company in Kassel, Germany. Sounds3 like a fairytale? Hold on, it gets better.

After Lynette and Scott moved back to the United States, they established The Dancing Silk Company, a hand-painted silk business that led them to travel to trade shows scattered around the East Coast. Lynette credits contacts made during those grueling journeys to the reason they now call Charlottesville their home.

When her daughter was born, Lynette and Scott settled in Charlottesville, continued to operate their silk business, opened a store on The Corner, and threw pie making in the mix.

2Today, baking supports her “creative juices,” and has, through time, become a valuable educational tool for her children.

“I always look at the creative aspect of things,” she says.

A tireless and smart entrepreneur, Lynette knew her gourmet pies were delectable. Created from family recipes and “from cookbook recipes that I have tweaked,”  — and chock full of local ingredients — Lynette’s bestseller strawberry and rhubarb pie has become a staple of the Saturday city market.

Baked with no refined sugar, but with honey and maple syrup, the pies are not only delicious, but also healthy.

“I really want the fruit to speak for itself,” she says. “It is very gratifying, but it’s very labor intensive. I feel very successful doing this. I feel like I make really good pies and I really love to do this.”

The exposure and success of the city market has opened the door for many additional opportunities, one of which is the wedding circuit. Lynette has been working with local couples who have decided to forgo the traditional wedding cake and opted for a delicious Family Ties and Pies creation.

It’s the year of the pie,” she proclaims.4

When asked what the future holds for her business, Lynette doesn’t hesitate. “Expansion.” Will we see a Family Ties and Pies storefront around town? Stay tuned to find out.

Perhaps most gratifying is the fact that selling at the farmers market has engaged Lynette’s family in ways she never thought possible. “It really has brought the family together,” she says.

On her almost-nonexistent free time, Lynette enjoys playing tennis and teaching zero balancing – in which she is also certified – a healing practice.

“I am enjoying my life more now then I have ever enjoyed before,” she says.

Lynette is a positive force of nature, or as her husband put it, a soul “full of truth, courage and knowledge.”

Artisan Demo Day!

Artisan Demo Day!

Artisan-Demo-Day

We’re lucky to have such a talented group of artisans at the City Market each week. From potters to jewelers, photographers to painters – we have a talented and diverse collection of local artisans.   Whether you’re looking for a unique piece for yourself or for a very special gift, you’ll find it at the City Market.

While these amazing vendors are at City Market each and every week, we are excited to announce a special day for our artisans.  The City Market managers and Market Central are teaming up to bring “Artisan Demo Day” to City Market on Saturday, September 21, when all of our artisan vendors are invited to show customers how their creations come to life. Look for demos throughout the morning, including pottery throwing, painting, jewelry making, iron work, and much, much more. Come see what these talented folks do to bring such beautiful, diverse color and products to our market! 

Once again, that’s Saturday, September 21 at Charlottesville City Market!

Check out some of the beautiful arts from recent markets:

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Partner Spotlight: The Vinegar Hill Canning Cooperative

Written by Cile Gorham

3Within the array of educational programming, and farmers market advocacy, Market Central is proud to put the spotlight on another very worthwhile project at City Market:  the Vinegar Hill Canning Cooperative, the brainchild of the Healthy Food Coalition’s Executive Director Joanie Freeman.

Several years ago, Joanie and her partner Dave Redding arrived in town.  Their arrival was very noticeable.  Whether it was at a UVA Food Collaborative event, or at the City Market, wherever sustainable living skills or local food was the subject, one was bound to meet Joanie.  Through Dave’s activities in the gleaning project at City Market, and Joanie’s concerns that lower income citizens have access to healthy food, an idea percolated.   Although gleaning at the market is a noble endeavor to prevent waste and feed those in need, Joanie saw an opportunity to put “scratch and dent” produce to another use.  Market Central donated funding for supplies from the Ball Canning grant, JABA donated kitchen space, and Joanie, armed with her vision, recruited some interested ladies to turn “seconds” produce into canned goods to be sold as added value products to the community at the market.    The Vinegar Hill Canning Co-op was born.

 2The project has merit on multiple levels.  It gives local unemployed or underemployed citizens a chance to learn marketable skills and a place to develop a business; and it is a sustainable business model.   On another level, the canning co-op has opened up a market for previously unsalable produce to benefit farmers.  On a third level, the project expands the farmers market both in vendor and consumer opportunities to an underrepresented segment of the community.

In 2012, early in the market season, Market Central had an opportunity to write a USDA Farmers Market Promotion Project Grant.  The grant allowed funding to go to Sub-grantees.  On the strength of the Vinegar Hill Canning Project outcomes, including job creation, increased vendor sales, and increasing market outreach, the project won funding for its core mission and extra initiatives such as soft-skills training, business training, and promotional activities.

So this year, Vinegar Hill Canning Co-op is putting plans to action.  Denise Arnold, one of the original canners, is now the general manager.  In addition, Denise researches and develops recipe’s at home.      She has two new co-op interns, the grandmother- granddaughter team of Joyce and Taikia Walker, originally from Virginia Beach.  Together, they have attended training sessions in industrial canning at Virginia Food Works in Farmville, where they typically go with very large batches.  They can smaller batches at the JABA kitchen in the new City Center.  The canners have also taken food safety instruction on low acid production with Virginia Tech Serve Safe.

What motivates them to chop fruits or vegetables for house on end and stand all day around vats of boiling water?  Taikia, who goes by1 Kia and also works at the Vinegar Hill Café, wants to help the African-American community by bringing jobs to the area.  She likes cooking, so canning is a natural but new experience for her.  She says support and love is the foundation of the enterprise.  Denise really believes in conservation:  not letting food go to waste, but putting it to a new use by canning.  Her goal is to create sustainable jobs with a steady income and stability.  There are challenges ahead with balancing production, marketing and sales. It is hard to invest in production without the corresponding support in sales.   She would love to see the business grow enough to justify hiring more canners but knows she can’t expect to hire more workers without reasonable pay.

Joyce is a steady force supporting the Vinegar Hill Cannery goals.  She is also the steady presence at the market table.

Their canned products have been made from produce from Virginia Vintage Apples, Cider Works and Horse and Buggy.    New this year is the Vinegar Hill Peach Butter.  As the produce rolls in at the market, and with on-going training, there are plans for pickles and tomato based- products.   The Vinegar Hill canners also have plans to to get involved in canning education.

Vinegar Hill Canning Co-op sets up in the non-profit section of the market on First Street.  Please stroll over to their booth and meet these new entrepreneurs and taste their products.    There is so much more than applesauce or jam in each jar.  There is hard work, dreams, support for local farmers, and the generosity and vision of Joanie Freeman.  With our support, we hope to see the Vinegar Hill Cannery make the switch to the for -profit side of the aisle!

For more information about the Vinegar Hill Canning Cooperative or to learn how to get involved, contact Market Central Chairwoman Cile Gorham at cecile@marketcentralonline.org or at the Market Central table at the Saturday City Market.

Cooking with a Whole Chicken

A cooking class wrap-up by Becky Calvert

DSCN3078Market Central’s expansion of our cooking class offerings continued on a recent Saturday afternoon thanks to Erica Hellen of Free Union Grass Farm showing participants how to break down a whole chicken.  Using chickens Erica & her partner Joel raised, the class began with Erica demonstrating the process.  Making quick work of the process with a sturdy pair of kitchen scissors, her curved scimitar knife and her fingers to loosen & pull, in almost no time Erica had turned a whole chicken into legs, wings, thighs, breast, neck & tenders, and a carcass left to use for stock, narrating as she went along.   Holding the chicken by a leg, she advises using gravity to your advantage, making small exploratory cuts first – gently slicing through the skin before applying your blade to the meat of the chicken.  She also advises you consider your own anatomy when breaking down a bird – the ball and socket of our armpits are similar to the ball & socket of how a chicken leg is attached to its torso.  (For a video of Erica in action, you can check out this video on Beyond The Flavor’s website under their Kitchen Skills Section.)

DSCN3080Upon Erica’s wrap up, it was the students turn to try their hand in breaking down a chicken.  With a helping hand and pointers from her as they went along, everyone was able to break down a chicken to take home, discovering along the way that it is a relatively easy task. 

Following the breakdown of chickens, Erica showed us several of her favorite ways to cook and serve the bird, starting with her version of the classic fried chicken.  As she prepped the pot and the chicken, she told us about a recipe she picked up on a trip to Puerto Rico and with some urging from the crowd, she whipped it up while the chicken fried on the stove top.

DSCN3086Erica relayed the story of how they had seen and smelled these chickens while vacationing in Puerto Rico.  While admitting her Spanish is passable, but not entirely fluent, she was able to piece together enough bits of the recipe as told to her by the merchant offering the chicken she & Joel found so enticing.  While claiming she is a farmer first and a cook second, Erica assembled this marinade guestimating her portions with the skills of a true cook.  Advising students that sitting in a marinade too long could make the chicken too mushy, she suggested that soaking in the sauce 4-5 hours before grilling, baking or frying the chicken was optimal.

Erica’s Puerto Rican Chicken

While the spices are to taste, Erica says the ticket to the recipe is garlic and lots of it.

Pour into a food processor equal parts (about ½ cup):
Olive Oil & Fresh Orange Juice

Add:
A generous amount of cayenne pepper (about 1 tablespoon)
A nice amount of good curry powder (about 1 teaspoon)
A healthy splash of apple cider vinegar (about 1 ½ tablespoons)
5 crushed bulbs of garlic
Salt & Pepper to taste

Combine until smooth.  Combine in a bowl with chicken and let rest for 4-5 hours. 

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