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Ali Dufault, the lead teacher at the Children’s House at Swannanoa Valley Montessori School, designs and makes chandeliers from empty wine bottles, turning them into lighted works of art.

One of her latest has been installed at a new business in Black Mountain, unWIND’d, inside Mellie Mac’s Garden Shop on West State Street in Black Mountain.

Dufault moved to the Valley in 2002 and began a hobby of creating unusual lights for homes.

“I had always created lights for myself,” she said. “My husband watched a video on how to make a chandelier from empty wine bottles and thought I might be interested. Learning to cut the wine bottles was tedious to learn. I might get one out of 20 to cut right, and now I get about 11 out of 20, which isn’t bad.”

She has sold more than 400 wine bottle chandeliers in Canada, the United States and internationally. Seventy-five percent are sold to homeowners, while the rest go to restaurants and clubs.

“Hopefully one day Glow 828, my company, will grow to have numerous employees. Right now it is just me and my husband Cory,” she said.

The chandelier for UnWINE’d is the first wine bottle chandelier that Dufault has personally installed. She believes it is the only one of its kind in Black Mountain.

She think’s Mellie Bryant’s idea of putting a wine bar with Bryant’s plant shop is great.

“People who go there will have time to sit and enjoy a glass of wine in pleasant surroundings,” Dufault said. “They will be able to see the chandelier from the street, and it should be a calling card for unWINE’d.”

Bryant and Dufault have known each other for several years, but weren’t close friends until the chandelier brought them together on the project. Bryant stopped by Dufault’s house one day and saw one of her chandeliers in progress. That’s what she wanted for her new shop, but she didn’t have anyone to make it for her.

“We talked, and I told her I would custom-make one for her,” Dufault said.

At the time, Bryant was at a crossroad with her plant shop. It was either close it or expand. A single mother with four children, she needed more cash flow. Friends who own a second home in Black Mountain and by plants from Bryant suggested combining a wine bar with the plant shop.

“I managed to land a big landscape job last summer, and that financed the remodeling of the area where the wine bar is located,” Bryant said. “By spring, customers will be able to sit and have a glass of wine and something to eat among the plants as well as inside unWINE’d. People can come and relax in an atmosphere unlike most bars.”

For more about Dufault’s chandeliers, call her at 815-218-4246 or visit etsy.com/shop/glow828.. For more about unWINE’d, contact Bryant at 669-5727.

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