Zandglas: glass objects made from local sand

The glass industry only uses pure white sands, which can only be found in a small number of sand quarries worldwide. In order to challenge the conventions of the contemporary and conservative glass industry, Atelier NL, consisting of designers Nadine Sterk and Lonny Ryswyck, has been collecting wild sands from dunes, beaches and sandpits in various places all over Europe. In a collection of glass objects called ZandGlas (‘Sand Glass’), they used local sand from the Zandmotor (‘Sand Motor’) in the Netherlands.

The Zandmotor is an artificial peninsula near The Hague, where every five years, sand is deposited to make up for the loss of land elsewhere. Nature takes the sand to the right place.

Each piece of Atelier NL’s collection is made from fused sand, forming a set composed of a carafe and three drinking glasses of varying sizes. At high temperatures, the sand from the Zandmotor melts and eventually transforms into characteristic, pale green glass. Because of the components of the sand, the glass objects made from it have imperfections that made each piece unique.

In a previous project called SandBank, Atelier NL researched the potential of local, wild sands. The designers followed the path of ancient Roman glass traders, took samples of eighty kinds of sand, mapped and classified them, and carried out many tests. Sands from different locations provided varied results because of their wide mix of minerals and other components that adhere to the grains, yielding various colours and textures.

Zandglas are the first glass products from a series Atelier NL created out of sand from the dunes, beaches, rivers, deserts, mountains and sandpits.

Photos: Wouter Kooken / Teun van Beers