Tyler Chevier (Student):
Our tour of Vitro slowly began with more security than I’d ever encountered in my small-town upbringings, but quickly progressed to an entrance into a retired kiln. As we entered, wet and cold, we learned of the 100-plus year old processes to making glass. Surrounded by old massive industrial equipment we made our way into a retired furnace, now a conference room, and tried to draw pictures of fire spewing from the walls as the tour guide further explained the process. Through the use of some “educational” videos and PowerPoints a lovely Vitro rep strongly pushed Vitro’s values of social and environmental etiquette.
After enjoying a fresh Coke out of an on-site made Vitro bottle, the production tour finally began. We walked passed large fires and hard workers witnessing the melting of glass and maintenance of equipment. Workers quickly dodged plunging molten glass to lubricate and maintain the glass molds before another glowing plunger rammed down and formed another bottle. Thousands of bottles were then tempered, sanitized, and then printed. Catching bits of the guide’s explanation of the printing process through the earplugs, I gathered that there were two types of printing. One type was an actual print where ink was layered on in different colors, and the other was more of a physical label. More differences and characteristics definitely existed, but their explanation was lost in the noise of production.
The tour ended with a visit to a small glass museum which contained hundreds of pieces of, you guessed it, glass! Glass, glass and more glass. We learned about some history and watched a detailed video of artisan hand blown and formed glass. The upstairs was full of art, some easily recognizable and some, like a fully human breasted bird sculpture, not so easily recognized.
Closing with goodbyes and straight departure to another factory, the Vitro crew was overly generous by welcoming us into their factory and taking the time to teach us about their craft. I felt highly fortunate for the knowledge we gained, yet more fortunate that I don’t have to make glass bottles for the rest of my life.