Artist builds Christmas tree out of glass; needs help collecting materials

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — A local artist is building the world’s largest glass Christmas tree and he needs your help to make it happen.

Artist Jason Mack will build the tree at 502 North Neil Street in Champaign. He said he will work every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. until December 20. The public is invited to watch him build the tree.

Clear and green bottles, jars and vases will be collected between December 5-20. You can bring your donations to 502 N. Neil St. There will be a collection bin on-site. You are asked to not bring any window glass.

“We’ll take the glass bottles and jars that are donated to us, break them up and shovel them into the furnace. The labels, caps, spaghetti sauce, baby food or whatever remains of the contents gets burned away and out comes a crystal-like substance. The community helps build the work and becomes part of the work. That’s what makes the tree event so exciting; it’s about building something together.”

Mack will have a mobile glass furnace so he can melt the glass. He will then ladle it on a metal frame and spin it to make the branches and needles.

Mack’s goal is to make the tree 31 feet tall with a 52-feet circumference at the bottom. It would weight around four tons. Officials said the current world record for the tallest glass tree is 27.5 feet in Italy.

There will be a gift shop open at the site from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Hand-blown glass ornaments and mini-tree sculptures will be sold. “This is your opportunity to support a local business as well as the environment. Items made and sold in the gift shop and studio are created from post-consumer glass. Mack is raising money to build the world’s first glass forest using all recycled glass.”

Officials said Mack built community glass Christmas trees in Bloomington from 2008-2010, He now lives in Champaign and teaches classes through Parkland Community College.

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