Like a jeweler appraising gems, Maria Ruano sizes up every kind of glass, from broken art pieces to beer bottles. "For blue glass," she says, "it's hard to do better than Skyy Vodka bottles. For green, Mickey's malt-liquor bottles. And broken window glass―now that stuff is like diamonds."
Welcome to Bedrock Industries, Seattle's only homegrown, for-profit glass recycler, and a fascinating place to visit. Step into the Interbay showroom under the Magnolia Bridge and you'll pass through a stone yard stocked with landscaping rocks and bulk-recycled glass.
Inside you see icicles for your Christmas tree, Stars of David for the window, wind chimes and sun catchers for the front porch, nut-colored tumbled glass for the garden path, cobalt-blue glass sand for your aquarium―all with the same kind of charming natural variations found in the crust of baked bread.
Overseeing production of these works is Ruano, company president and connoisseur-in-chief of shattered glass. Ruano has long been an advocate of using recycled materials; in her former career as a mosaic artist, she learned to tumble recycled marble, which she called "rubble." Eventually a small-business consultant suggested that she recycle glass instead of rocks, since so much recyclable glass was being unnecessarily dumped into landfills.