Jewelry Inspired by Vanilla Java Porter

Wow! What an incredible design week I’ve had with the inspiration of Atwater Brewery’s Vanilla Java Porter.  From the smooth coffee flavor of the porter to the interesting things I learned about the Atwater brand, my mind was full of ideas.  I think the element that stuck with me most as a point of inspiration was the blend of the 200 year old brewing process from Germany with the edge of urban Detroit.  I decided I wanted an “Urban Chic” feel for the piece I created.

Learning New Things

I also decided early on that I would like to try to use the glass from the actual Atwater bottles.  I use a lot of recycled glass in my designs, but they are all purchased beads.  So, I headed off to the local hardware store to find a drill bit that would work on glass and start experimenting.  Here are a few photos as the bottle was transformed….

Drilling holes in glass is not as easy as I thought it would be.  When I bought the drill bit, they told me to “go slowly and let the drill do the work”.  I don’t think I fully understood that until my 5th or 6th try when I finally drilled a hole without breaking the glass.  This is definitely not an activity for the impatient!  I found myself taking deep breaths, trying to relax, and “connect” with the glass.  In the end, I was really proud that I had several usable pieces with holes in them.

As I was smoothing the edges of the glass, I discovered another technique that I loved for this urban design – roughing up the glass.  It’s funny, I always pick up glass from the street when I’m in downtown Detroit and I tell others that “I don’t collect beach glass (no beach around here), but I do collect urban glass”.  Now, I know how to add an urban edge to those treasures I find in the streets!

Design Direction

So, after all the experiments with the glass and painstakingly removing the labels from the bottles, I ended up with an eclectic mix of artifacts to be the baseline of the design.  As I looked at the group, I initially thought I would create a bracelet.  However, as I looked a little longer, I kept seeing pendants….lots of pendants!

The Designs

So, I started creating, one after another and ended up with nine in total.  The sizes ranged from about 1/2″ for the smallest glass piece to a little over 2″ in length for the two largest pieces.  One thing that I hadn’t considered when initially deciding to use the beer bottle is that the diameter is relatively small.  Translated into the jewelry pieces, that means that the larger glass pieces have an interesting amount of curvature to them.

The Details

To provide a little more info on the materials used in each of the pieces, I’ve included a quick description below:

  1. Original Atwater Bottle Cap – The bottle cap edges have been pounded smooth and the cap is paired with a red recycled magazine bead.
  2. Wrapped Glass – A piece of the Atwater bottle is roughed up and wrapped with wire.
  3. New Label Vanilla Java – Pieces from the new Vanilla Java label have been attached to the inside of a piece of the bottle.  The overall shape of the piece is very irregular and has that urban feel
  4. Ren Cen – I think this may be my favorite piece.  A roughed up piece of glass combined with the iconic skyline of Detroit from the Vanilla Java label wrapped in black wire.  This one perfectly fits the urban chic look I was hoping for.
  5. Java – Two cool design elements from the label combined with a uniquely shaped piece of glass.
  6. Original Label – Using some of the cool icons from the original label.  For those not “in the know”, they might think this is a coffee house design instead of one inspired from a beer!
  7. Atwater Logo – I love the simplicity of this design.  The original Atwater Brewery logo has been wrapped around a brown recycled glass bead, paired with a simple red recycled glass bead and is ready to go.
  8. New Atwater Bottle Cap – The new cap, flattened down and combined with a red recycled glass bead.
  9. Urban Glass – The simplest of all the designs, this pendant features a small piece of the Atwater bottle.
So, those are the designs.  Lots of pendants with lots of different character.  You can also find them for sale in my Etsy shop I would love to know which one(s) are your favorites.  Just note the number and let me know your rationale.




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My name is Lori Sullivan. By day I'm a Marketing Strategist and by night I'm a Jewelry Designer. I also enjoy relaxing with family and friends with a great wine or beer. This blog is the place where my passions for drinks, design, memories and marketing mix.