COPAVIC was started in 1976 as a means to create jobs in the small, rural town of Cantel, Guatemala. This worker-owned cooperative pays their employees a living wage and provides health insurance, so that the employees, in turn, can take care of their families. COPAVIC’s artisans transform recycled glass into gorgeous glassware while maintaining their original vision of a livelihood free of exploitation and protecting the environment around them.
People drop off glass at the factory year round, which gets cleaned up, the label removed, and broken in to smaller pieces that can be melted down. After the glass has been prepped and is melted down, the artisans begin to form it in to their unique products.
The group provides all of the training on-site, and they are excited to say that they are once again drawing interest from young people who want to learn the art of glass blowing. The artisans move around each other in what appears to be a well-choreographed dance, moving between the ovens and their work stations to blow, mold, and form the glass product. Once the item has been formed, the artisans fire it under a modified blow torch and place it in a large brick oven to be fired at the end of production. The products get fired for 24 hours before they are finished. Once they are done, they are left with a one-of-a-kind glass, cup, or pitcher.