Page last updated at 13:36 GMT, Saturday, 22 November 2008

Milk-bottle artist exhibit opens

Milk bottle engraving of a cow
The artist wanted to raise the profile of re-using household objects

A Birmingham artist who secretly decorated her neighbours' milk bottles has opened her own exhibition after being "outed" by friends and the media.

Charlotte Hughes-Martin, 30, originally from Crewe, engraved animal designs on the bottles and left them on doorsteps.

She said she started it as a prank when she was living in Staffordshire to see whether her milkman Frank would notice.

Her identity was leaked to the press in the summer and her exhibition opened at a Sutton Coldfield gallery on Saturday.

'Incredible moustache'

Mrs Hughes-Martin, a professional glass maker, said she was drawn to the milk bottles by fond memories of milk being delivered by horse and cart, growing up in a rural village in Daventry, Northamptonshire.

She has been secretly leaving etched bottles on people's doorsteps for about two years, but said she never expected there to be so much interest in her work.

The milk bottle project was featured in nine national papers, on international news programmes and in magazines, she said. The bottles now sell for about 125 each.

She added: "I had this great milkman Frank when I was living in Gnosall [in Staffordshire], who had the most incredible moustache.

"I just did it to see if he would notice. Then I wanted to see if any of the milk bottles would make it back to the dairy and see if I could trace where they ended up."

'Recyling fan'

Mrs Hughes-Martin put her website details on the bottom of the bottles, but no-one contacted her about it until she moved to Birmingham six months ago to be closer to her studio in Stourbridge.

She said: "I was working in my Red House Glass Cone studio when my manager dropped by unannounced to say hi and noticed a few bottles sitting on the side.

"She went straight out and told her friend who works in the council press office and without me knowing a press release was sent out."

After her identity was made public Mrs Hughes-Martin, who is a fan of recycling, said she would use the designs as a fun way to make people think about re-using and recycling everyday household objects.

Her exhibition opened at the Artifex Gallery in Sutton Coldfield on Saturday.

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