Sustainable, Functional and Emblematic
Large-scale project epitomizes a resourceful senior class
by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
July 2, 2012
Elaine Herbig '12, Charlie Alcorn '12 and Kim Starfield '12 (not pictured) are the brains behind the class of 2012's successful pint-glass project.
The class of 2012 is an enterprising crew that has made its mark in many ways. But none of its ventures better epitomizes the class’s sustainable and community-minded spirit than the 2012 pint-glass project. That’s when three student organizers and approximately two dozen volunteers hand-crafted 350 pint glasses, emblazoned with the college seal, that they fashioned from empty bottles donated by members of the campus community.
Sustainable and ingenious
The project began with Charlie Alcorn ’12, who had discovered similar glasses while dining at downtown Carlisle’s The Green Room restaurant. “My original plan was to make a few of the glasses—enough for special events on campus, or maybe a few to give as thank-you gifts,” he says. He shared that plan with friend Anthony Silverman ’12, an Idea Fund board chair, and the scope of the project widened. The Idea Fund presented a proposal to create the glasses as a class project, and class officers decided to sell the glasses as a class fundraiser at the 2012 Pints With Profs event.
According to class of 2012 vice president Kim Starfield, a recipient of the Hufstadter Senior Prize for Leadership, the project’s environmental friendliness was a major selling point. “Sustainability is a big part of our class identity, because the idea really gained momentum [at Dickinson] while our class was on campus,” she says, explaining that the Center for Sustainability Education opened its doors in 2008, just as the class of 2012 arrived. “We thought this was a great, sustainable way to make Pints with Profs our own.”
Rallying the troops
Starfield, Alcorn and the Idea Fund’s Elaine Herbig ’12 enlisted the aid of many people, on and off campus, to get the job done. Faculty and staff members donated hundreds of empty wine bottles to the cause. The student organizers also consulted with glassmaking professionals, including Deb Fuller, owner of nearby LeTort Glass, and Assistant Professor of Studio ArtAnthony Cervino, who helped them map out the production process. Professor of Geology Rob Dean granted use of the geology lab, and the art & art history department allowed use of its sandblasting machine.
They also recruited volunteers from all four class years—including a sizable crew from the class of 2015—who logged several hours a week of decidedly unglamorous physical labor to get the job done. “We were constantly harping to get people to help, but it was for a good cause,” says Herbig with a laugh, adding that Steven Finley ’15 and Emily Blau ’15 were instrumental in rounding up the volunteers.
Unglamorous, but productive
The volunteers first submerged wine bottles in water—using bathtubs, sinks and trash cans in residence halls across campus—and scrubbed until labels and glue residue were gone. Then it was time to score, cut and smooth the glass. After experimenting with fire-polishing techniques, they decided to use a grinding/sanding method, but they needed a special tool to score and cut the glass smoothly.
Alcorn supplied the tool. A physics major who will teach physics at Carlisle Area High School this fall, he had become machine-certified after taking Physics Technician Richard Lindsey’s machine-shop instruction course. In the shop he created an aluminum cylinder with a shank, which he machined on the lathe and placed on a drill press.
This device in hand, the volunteers scored and cut the bottles in weekly two-to-three-hour sessions at LeTort Glass Shop. Then, they ground the rims at the geology lab, careful to remove all glass chips. At the Goodyear Gallery, they cleaned the glasses and sand-blasted the image onto each one, using a stencil and a sandblasting cabinet. Finally, with Director of Dining Services Keith Martin’s blessing, they sent the glasses to the Dining Hall for an industrial-strength cleaning cycle.
It was a weeks-long process with plenty of late nights, says Starfield, who recalls becoming overwhelmed on the last day of production because the seal still needed to be etched onto the glass. “But all of a sudden, eight or nine people showed up to help, and we developed an assembly line and finished in just a few hours,” she says. “This project really showed me how we can come together to use our resources and learn from each other.”
A spectacular premiere
The glasses were unveiled during the April 5 Pints With Profs event, which drew 120 faculty and staff members and 300 students. “The line to buy the glasses was so long, it went out the door,” says Starfield, who now works in the protocol office for the secretary at the Department of Homeland Security. “We sold out quickly.”
Seeing faculty and students use the glasses was a bit of a thrill, says Herbig, who uses hers regularly. But the process of creating them was itself rewarding, precisely because of the challenge it represents.
“This project is exactly what I’ll remember about senior year—we wanted to create something that was our own, and we did it,” says Herbig, who is gearing up to earn nursing-assistant certification before heading to osteopathy school. “I never had any doubts that we’d get it done, although none of us knew how hard it would be at the beginning. The payoff is that you can feel really proud at the end of it all.”