students use invasive species of mussels to create beautiful blue glass

Designboom_a group of color and material design students from the college for creative studies in detroit, michigan, has taken two invasive species of mussels and transformed them into a useful resource. the design team – emily marquette, mahsa banadaki and wei huang – proposes using zebra and quagga mussels, which are invasive to the USA’s great lakes ecosystem, as a source of calcium carbonate and colorant in the creation of region specific soda lime glass. the project seeks to transform these species from an ecological threat to an over-abundant regional resource that can be harvested and used for artisanal and industrial glass and ceramic applications.

zebra mussels to zebra glass

originating from russia and ukraine respectively, zebra and quagga mussels were first introduced in the USA’s great lakes in the late 1980s, causing great damage to their newly found ecostsyems. rather than view these aquatic intruders as an ecological problem, the students decided to view them simply as an over-abundant material.

zebra glass

by heating the mussels and breaking them down in a process that you can see in the video below, the team has been able to create vibrant ‘copper blue’ glass due to the high copper content of lake michigan. the ‘zebra glass’ project effectively shows how what was once a stigmatized invader, can become an abundant source of material, purpose, and beauty.

zebra glass crucibles

recipe 1

recipe 1 opened crucible

recipe 2

zebra glass opacity

zebra glaze

glass color and chemistry

geological color map

processing materials

molar calculations