Hugo Bernal

Hugo is recycling glass bottles in a very creative way!
A few years ago, a friend of Hugo and his partner Gilberto stopped by in Bonaire. He brought them a present from South Africa: a vodka bottle candleholder. His gift inspired Hugo so much that he immediately spend all his free time figuring out how to cut glass bottles and how to make a candleholder out of them.
Searching on the Internet he found several methods; varying from cheap options like a string with nail polish remover but also very expensive options; like a machine using a diamond cut wheel. Hugo tried the less expensive methods and some options demonstrated to be more successful than others, however to cut a large amount of bottles the alternatives he had were not good enough. Based on Hugo’s experiments he did figure out the necessary conditions and tools for an efficient glasscutter. He contacted his brother in Colombia, who is a technician, and asked him to build him a glasscutter based on Hugo’s findings. Though the material necessary was a first big financial investment, the end result has been successful. Hugo’s invented glasscutter lasted the first time for six months. After that Hugo asked his brother to adjust some small components to make the cutter more resilient, and as of today Hugo is still using the remodeled glasscutter.To make sure the bottles edges were soft he first used glass sandpaper, however as it took a lot of time to polish all the bottles by hand, Hugo then decided to look for other faster options to soften the sharp edges, and figured he could use a drill with polishing paper.
Persistence and creativity seems to be key in Hugo’s efforts to move forward reaching for his goal. For getting the word out regarding his artwork Hugo showcased some of his bottles at work and gave them away as presents. Word of mouth caused an increase of demand for Hugo’s art. Next logical step was to personalize the bottles. So Hugo started to design logos and texts to be displayed on the bottle. Printing out these designs locally however, proved to be very expensive, which forced Hugo to explore his options on the other islands. This search demonstrated to be worthwhile as he found a printing company in Aruba charging cheaper price compared to Bonaire. Distance was however a challenge in case large orders had a tight timeframe, so Hugo negotiated with a local company and they settled on a reasonable offer. However to be more independent Hugo searched for his own printer, also known as a plotter. The price for a plotter varies from 300 USD up to 3000 USD, so Hugo decided to go for a more affordable plotter and ordered one from the USA.
The costs for transportation, insurance and import tax were more than half the price of the costs of the plotter. But no regrets so far as Hugo has been making and designing many bottles. He sells his art at the Taste of Bonaire, Divi Flamingo Diveshop, and local events but also on request by local companies and individuals. If you would like to see more of Hugo’s artwork you can check out the group page Made in Bonaire, Hugo has advertised his work there, which is illustrated by the album Recycling Bottles.
Hugo Bernal originally from Colombia, has been living on Bonaire since 12 years with his partner. Before he moved to Bonaire he lived on St. Maarten and in Curacao. At the moment Hugo is Food and Beverage cost controller and Storeroom administrator at Divi Flamingo Hotel. When Hugo is not working or making art he enjoys going out and taking photos and working in his kunuku.

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