TuxedoKat is an abstract artist working with resin and broken glass creating mosaics since 2008. Besides befriending local bartenders to save empty bottles, dumpster diving was the main source of her glass medium. In 2019, TuxedoKat discovered a flat, heavier glass with an awe-inspiring indigo tint through a commissioned project for soon-to-open brewery, Southern Strain. These broken pieces of indigo glass had come from the windows of the industrial mill Southern Strain was operating from and the brewery was interested in incorporating the glass into the atmosphere of the taproom. Thus the creation of Southern Strain’s taproom backsplash became the beginning of new mosaic sculptures TuxedoKat would create from this historic blue glass.
Before we discuss the glass, we need to understand the history of its origin. Southern Strain Brewery is the fourth brewery in Concord, NC and began its operation in 2019 within an old textile mill just outside of Historic Downtown Concord. This mill, recorded as Cannon Mill No. 17, was part of an empire of textile mills that created towns and strengthened economies in Cabarrus County of North Carolina. This empire, the notorious Cannon Mills Company, was established in 1887 and by 1914 was the largest towel and sheets manufacturer in the world.
Mill No. 17, like many older buildings around Concord, has floor-to-ceiling window frames filled with thick stamped opaque indigo-colored glass that casts a cool light into the building, perhaps to promote cooler conditions within the mill during summer months.
“The blue daylight cast in these mills from the glass was like nothing I have ever seen before. The glass upclose is remarkable. The glass panels are stamped on one side, flat on the other and cast a deep indigo when viewing into the width. It reminded me of peering into the green glass of a cabinet in my father’s baseball card store as a child.”
Mining for “Blue Gold”, as TuxedoKat refers to the glass, has replaced dumpster diving for empty liquor bottles as she tallies up the remaining mills with this historic feature. It will become the main ingredient to larger projects in her evolving glass mosaic process. From flat mosaic frames to three dimensional sculptures, the future of TuxedoKat’s glass-art process of repurposing broken glass now plays a role in preserving this by-product of history into works of blue beauties that citizens and historians can admire.