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View Full Version : If you google "blow your own ornament"...


Doug Sheridan
12-22-2011, 04:55 PM
you'll find what must be over 100 shops that offer this service this year. Last year, google only had about ten. Desperate times? Maybe, but one can't ignore the easy money and the good will it creates in your neighborhood. This is our sixth year. In the past we only offered it on the last five Friday nights of the year. That got too crazy, so this year we've been doing BYO five days a week 1-5 pm. We just did our 800th ball since Nov. 1st, and we're booked solid the week after Christmas as well. We upped the price to $40 and $45 to try and slow things down, that didn't work. Folks are thrilled to look in the furnace and blow in that hose. It also causes them to come back the next day and do more shopping while they're here. The only down side is some guilt. But to quote local blower Dan Scogna, "if these people would just buy more of the work we're really proud of, we wouldn't have to resort to shooting fish in a barrel."
I'm pretty sure somebody could franchise this thing.

Travis Frink
12-22-2011, 05:09 PM
Do I smell a sequel to the Eben's pumpkin video!

On a serious note, lots of traditional artisan studios here offer the make your own experience and it seems quite popular. I don't think most have been as successful as you.

Dave Hilty
12-22-2011, 09:35 PM
I jumped on the bandwagon this year for the first time and couldn't believe that we sold out all the slots and continued to get calls I had to turn away. This from our email list only. We had pieces for sale under the ornament style/color tree and had a nice bunch of non-ornament sales.
One customer booked a day after the weekend event and brought his grandkids to make gifts for their family. PR is right and several want to be sure we would do it again next year.

We are cooking up plans for paperweight or similar workshops as a way to extend the concept.

Rahman Anderson
12-23-2011, 01:04 AM
As Pete has said "glass has become common in the worst sense of the word." Now you are going to convince people that anyone can do it. I am sorry but this seems to be the final coffin nail. Anyone remember the non compete thread a little while ago. Soon those people will open a shop in your town thinking they have learned to blow glass. Hope that $45 was worth it.

Jeff Thompson
12-23-2011, 01:12 AM
I've got to completely echo Rahman in this sense. You've just proved that glassblowing is easy and that anyone can do it. Rich people are always trying to figure our if you're going to be their bitch, or if they are going to admire you. The landscapers are their bitches.

Allan Gott
12-23-2011, 01:39 AM
Couldn't disagree more with you two.......common consensus is that sales are dropping......awareness and appreciation from the general public is lacking........here your colleagues are having success selling "made in America" to Americans and you're putting them down........both Doug and Dave state that other items are selling to return customers.....or did you miss that?...RETURN customers....geez............and that was 800X the $45.....do the math

I say guilt be damned......please exit through the gift shop......if you can sell the process and be successful, have at it and more power to you.....

Jeff Thompson
12-23-2011, 01:42 AM
if you can't make art... teach. If you can't teach, do blow-your-own.

If Chihuly raisied the water around our boats, this must surely lower it.

Furthermore, when a magician reveals the secret to his illusion, he's just a guy with a trick... the moment before he was a magician.

Allan Gott
12-23-2011, 02:03 AM
If you want to eat.....sell

Jon Myers
12-23-2011, 04:53 AM
Typical American false dichotomy... It isn't either or... you can make interesting things, personal, of the moment work, dare I say art, AND do some slight of hand with the byo's to pay some bills. If you are giving them the idea it's easy you aren't letting them mess up enough. And some people will find it to be easy first try. fortunately most of those people have jobs as TIG welders or programmers (the two professions that have the most people that do great first off). Letting people touch it increases their respect of and hunger for the medium. We've had several people come back 30+ times... Far be it from me to try to talk anyone into providing such a service... We work in an industrial field, no one is curing cancer or advancing the field of glassblowing or even contributing to the international art dialogue much and yet...

Doug Sheridan
12-23-2011, 07:51 AM
Okay this is not the first time I've heard the anti-success rhetoric. This goes on in all professions not just art glass. Schopenhauer was right that the will to live is so great that it creates malice towards others' successes.
Everyone has their own measure of success. I'm sorry but success for me is not to be a household name in the art glass genre. That ship sailed 25 years ago. But I was one of those people that came to town and opened a glass shop. How dare I!

And to address the fears that BYO exposes how easy this is it's my experience that it is doing the opposite. BYO is creating new and future glass enthusiasts that could have ignored us beforehand. They leave with a life story they'll tell for years. I know it's considered bottom feeding and that these folks didn't actually do anything other than blow in the hose but for a majority of these future "collectors" that is absolutely enough hands on for them. 99% of them come away more amazed and have more respect for the process than just watching. No magic tricks revealed just more magic.

John Riepma
12-23-2011, 08:03 AM
So there's a "secret to the illusion" of blowing in a hose and watching an ornament expand? Really? What about all those Portland Press videos showing one-of-a-kind masterpieces being made in a highly edited 8 minute clip? Do we think that anyone uses that information to start knocking out Lino replicas in their brand-new hot shop - other than that little bear in Eben's video? If anyone is inspired by one session in an ornament workshop to instantly go out a build a studio so that they can jump on the highly lucrative glassblowing bandwagon they'll be cured of that notion very quickly. What about Corning? They've been doing this for years. There is a reason that people will pay more than retail price to participate in the making of an ornament, and it's that it gives them a chance to be a very small part of the process and thus make the object more meaningful and valuable to them. I feel that respect for the process is increased, not diminished by this experience. It's not high art but it's not marketed as such either.

Rosanna Gusler
12-23-2011, 08:29 AM
like doug said. rosanna

Doug Chaussee
12-23-2011, 09:36 AM
Wow! I didn't think any topic would get me to start posting again but this one has. Our studio has been doing the "paperweight/ornament" experience class for over 6 years. In that time we have exposed over 7000 people to the art of making glass. Some have continued on at the studio and are now renters, some are devoted customers. All have talked to their friends and family about the class and that is why we are booked full about three weeks in advance year round. Our class is more hands on than just using the hose to say the least. It has been the best PR we could have.
To equate their experience at that level to being able to start their own studio is just silly. Kinda like saying that if you can post on this site, you can now write software, or if you pump your own gas you can build a car from scratch. Nobody is going to start their own studio based on this experience, period. No 32nd degree glassblowing secrets were revealed and nobody has been bitchified. Oh, and a Merry Christmas to all!

Dave Hilty
12-23-2011, 10:09 AM
if you can't make art... teach. If you can't teach, do blow-your-own.

If Chihuly raisied the water around our boats, this must surely lower it.

Furthermore, when a magician reveals the secret to his illusion, he's just a guy with a trick... the moment before he was a magician.

You sound like the guild dons looking to kill anyone who left the island before the "secret" got out.

I reject your "if you can't" premises. I do make art and sell it and I recognize when my stuff is ho hum or when I've done something that I can appreciate and buyers can as well. Not great art, mind you. Secondly, I teach. It's not my favorite time in the studio but as they say in the teaching biz, the teacher gets as much or more from teaching than the students, if you are really working at it. Thirdly, blow your own is as John has said, a chance to get close and intimate (probably as close as they ever will) with the process and the reality is that a deeper appreciation for the skills and work involved comes from getting that close to it. I teach 3 hour workshops and try to push folks as far as I can from a paperweight, to an ornament and on to a simple tumbler. Most folks need a lot of help with any of it. Most say "I never realized how hard this is", "you make it look so easy", when they try to put together doing a simple ornament themselves.

We aren't magicians and if that were so, no amount of practise and repeats to finally get a technique mastered would work without the "secret". Those that try their hands at a workshop quickly find that it's no small investment in time, money and dedication to make glass worth taking a second look at.

Richard Huntrods
12-23-2011, 11:16 AM
In other media it's lauded as "participatory art" and (when first done) "avant guard".

In glass it's called "bottom feeding" and the haters come out. Sheesh.

For those offering this event, I say "GOOD ON YOU!". The more people who get excited about glass and glassblowing, the better.

Maybe some of them will get inspired to take classes and rent shop time and...


-R

Doug Sheridan
12-23-2011, 11:30 AM
Guess that quells the conspiracy.
I have a plumber here today, he asked me to hold a pipe wrench, I'm now his competition. Poor sucker.

Rosanna Gusler
12-23-2011, 12:01 PM
Wow! I didn't think any topic would get me to start posting again but this one has. Our studio has been doing the "paperweight/ornament" experience class for over 6 years. In that time we have exposed over 7000 people to the art of making glass. Some have continued on at the studio and are now renters, some are devoted customers. All have talked to their friends and family about the class and that is why we are booked full about three weeks in advance year round. Our class is more hands on than just using the hose to say the least. It has been the best PR we could have.
To equate their experience at that level to being able to start their own studio is just silly. Kinda like saying that if you can post on this site, you can now write software, or if you pump your own gas you can build a car from scratch. Nobody is going to start their own studio based on this experience, period. No 32nd degree glassblowing secrets were revealed and nobody has been bitchified. Oh, and a Merry Christmas to all!

a friend/customer of mine made an ornament at your place this fall. she was sooo excited! it was a highlight of her year. she was taking it around and showing it off. most folks that saw it said they would love to do that as well. pretty ornament too. it is now a focal piece in her home. rosanna

Doug Chaussee
12-23-2011, 01:56 PM
Thanks Rosanna,
I remember her mentioning "her friend that blows glass" in OBX and how surprised she was when I knew your name! Small world, huh? I am glad she enjoyed it. Let me know when she starts her own studio........:)

Mark Rosenbaum
12-23-2011, 02:12 PM
Well there certainly are opinions on here that I didn't see coming....
We've been doing "Blow Your Own..." for 3 years now. It is the best promotion EVER for my studio. If it is "bottom-feeding", then I'll cast my line and fish until the creek is dry! We have added over 1000 people to our mailing list who have visited the studio and most likely made an additional purchase on top of the ornament. EVERYONE who has done it has a new appreciation as to what we do. We sold two of our most expensive pieces this year as a result of people coming in to the BYOB. One piece for $3500, and the other for $2500. I had a man in yesterday who bought an extra $300 worth of gifts when he picked up his ornament. He said that this is now his family tradition that he flies his parents in for. He is looking at having enough ornaments for his tree in 10 years. I have this customer for 10 more years!!!! He is not the only one who make it a tradition. I have people traveling 7 hours to do this!
If I am not secure enough in my business and glass blowing skills that I think the next person to try BYOB will be my competition, maybe I am in the wrong line of work. This is educating people and showing them the exact opposite---it is a highly skilled art that we do.

Mark Rosenbaum
12-23-2011, 02:18 PM
Doug:
I looked it up on Google, and out of the 100's of results in the search, 90% where yours!!!! Good use of the internet my friend! ;) :)

Rosanna Gusler
12-23-2011, 04:31 PM
doug it is a small world. she came over and asked me if i thought it would be a 'safe' thing to do. i told her as long as she did what she was told and did not put her hand in the furnace she would be fine. lol. i am trying to figure out some 'bake and take' type events/classes for the kdh co-op here .if i ever get my 111 yr old house right i can do stuff in my studio. rosanna

Pete VanderLaan
12-23-2011, 08:10 PM
well, next year I'll try "Make your own hash Pipe" and see how that goes.

Mark Rosenbaum
12-23-2011, 08:54 PM
well, next year I'll try "Make your own hash Pipe" and see how that goes.

Good idea! I'll do it on April 20th! ;)

Ray Laubs
12-24-2011, 10:10 AM
Guess that quells the conspiracy.
I have a plumber here today, he asked me to hold a pipe wrench, I'm now his competition. Poor sucker.

HA HA HA !!
I look at this way, IF, if everybody and his brother (even one time ornament blowers) were to all do the same thing, then that would cause those who have been around for a while to think about stepping it up a notch and develop something that is outside of the norm. Take your talents and arts and go in a different and deeper direction that not everyone else is doing, then a simple blown ornament wont seem as such a big stumbling block.
Cheers to you guys making big money off of your workshops !

Pete VanderLaan
12-24-2011, 10:31 AM
OK, now that I've patented both Bongs and family reunion's and I now license those concepts at a reasonable rate, I'm curious about process here since I actually really like the idea of the community doing this.

Please give me feedback on how you are all doing this. What level are the people involved at? Do they roll into frit? How is the handle applied? How do you keep track of whose is whose? How much time do you allot for each one?I am actually fascinated by the details here. 800 ornaments is a boatload to keep track of.
Descriptions Please!

Now I'm going to go prep for "make your own moly furnace or crucible for under the tree".

Doug Sheridan
12-24-2011, 11:04 AM
Assuming you are serious, which I'm not entirely sure of, I've got some franchises for sale, and it sounds like you need one. All your questions will be answered when you get your keys to prosperity. Okay, maybe a few trade secrets to get you hooked:
Patron chooses between ~10 color/design options. At the cash register, they buy their numbered ticket which has their name and color choice listed. When their number is called they give their ticket to a shameless blower. Patron gets clean mouthpiece and jabs in into the hose. Blower gathers clear and frit, blocks and starts bubble. Patron stands in awe. At the yoke again, blower sticks hose onto blowpipe and sits down. "Blow!" "Stop" "I said STOP!" "Dang, we'll have to start over" etc. "now watch as our hooker Laura applies the hook." "Next!"
We have a grid of marinite strips inside the annealer and the blower has a paper with the grid drawn out and the blower writes in the number and color in the paper grid to match the annealer grid. Next morning, we tape their ticket which we saved to the lid of an ornament box and drop in their ornament.

Doug Chaussee
12-24-2011, 11:06 AM
In our PW/Orn. class we do the gathering. They (all with our help) marver, block, blow, roll in frit, manipulate color and jack the final strokes on the weights. They fire polish the bottoms of the weights. We do the jacking on the ornaments while they bench blow and we do the hooks for the orns as well. They pick the colors from over 100 frits and designs from dozens of examples. We keep a written list of what each person makes by their name, colors and designs so when they come out of the box we can tell who made which one. It is much more hands on than some other similar classes I have seen around the country. It has given everyone that takes the class a new appreciation for the process and has built a great customer base. Nobody has started their own studio after taking the class that I know about.

Pete VanderLaan
12-24-2011, 11:08 AM
I appreciate the fact that you know me and therefore are appropriately suspicious of my attitude, but I am serious.

They are actually lined up at the register? This is quite amazing... You don't have to put them behind a chalk line and fire a little starter gun to have them run to try to be first in line?

Keep it coming people.

Pete VanderLaan
12-24-2011, 11:15 AM
Thanks Rosanna,
I remember her mentioning "her friend that blows glass" in OBX and how surprised she was when I knew your name! Small world, huh? I am glad she enjoyed it. Let me know when she starts her own studio........:)
**********
:eek:

Hi Doug!

How much time gets allotted to each project?

How about Liability?

Doug Sheridan
12-24-2011, 11:35 AM
Okay, more secrets: We are still learning as there is always someone unhappy with our methods. We've done advertising, so people know to call for a time slot. We fill six slots/hour/blower over the phone. When they come in, they buy their ticket. Then they sit in the hot shop until their number on their ticket is called by the blower. Six per hour allows time for walk-ins which can be as many as four more per hour. Trust me, we could have done many more if we just had the strength. Folks have lots of fun watching others blow while they wait. We bake cookies for them. Liability becomes a problem if you have several injuries, so far none.

Pete VanderLaan
12-24-2011, 11:52 AM
What I really like about this is getting people to come to the studio who have never been there. we used to do an open house over thanksgiving weekend and before we left Santa Fe, it was drawing 5000 people. I don't think we could do that in northern New Hampshire, nor do I think I would want to, but being on people's mental maps is a good thing.

How many "blowers do you accommodate at the same time?

Doug Chaussee
12-24-2011, 12:06 PM
Pete,
Each person takes about 20-30 minutes total per piece depending on if they can follow directions or not. We don't rush anyone through as we feel it is important that they feel like they have taken an active part in the process and not just a token gesture. We do a demo for the group prior to starting and have a "safety talk" prior to starting. Everyone wears safety glasses when in the work area. All read a safety policy (1 page) and sign a waiver before working. We do them from age 14 and up. So far 88 years young is the oldest to take the class. We have an evening class and two sessions on Saturday and Sundays. Like I said earlier, we are booked about 2-3 weeks in advance all year. We could do more of them but frankly the burnout factor leaps forward when we push the bookings.

Doug Sheridan
12-24-2011, 12:15 PM
Only two, but more often just one. It's typically a family and they want photos so it can get kinda tricky if you don't have the room. Now at 840, that's only 20/day, five days a week for two months. We turned down a lot of people so we could make other things. Silly us.

Doug Sheridan
12-24-2011, 01:01 PM
Doug, I love the look of your place and admire you for teaching and renting studio time. That takes a lot of effort. Our community is small and demand is not enough for us to offer classes regularly, and we need the production time. I like it that you give your BYO's the full intro and more hands on involvement. But somehow, I've tapped into a crowd that are sometimes scared to do all that and are quite happy that they aren't. I think next year I'll offer both versions. I bet it would be half and half.

Doug Chaussee
12-24-2011, 01:30 PM
Doug,
We draw from a radius of about 100 miles. Racine alone would not support the classes. We too, have people that are worried about doing it but once they are done they love it and want to do it again. Knowledge replaces fear in their case. Thanks for the compliments! I'm afraid that if we scaled down the participation at this point we would disappoint people expecting to do what we offer now. It is labor intensive for us but that is what we wanted to offer.

Travis Frink
12-24-2011, 05:23 PM
What I really like about this is getting people to come to the studio who have never been there.... but being on people's mental maps is a good

I think this is one of the things I like most about this process.

Charles Friedman
12-24-2011, 08:50 PM
Just finished doing my last blow your own ornament for the year.

This was my 18th year, it has made some great, long time customers and a more educated ones as well.

More they know about what it takes to do glass, the more they are willing to spend.

Good Holidays to you all !!!!!!

Ray Laubs
12-24-2011, 08:52 PM
OK, now that I've patented both Bongs and family reunion's and I now license those concepts at a reasonable rate, I'm curious about process here since I actually really like the idea of the community doing this.

Please give me feedback on how you are all doing this. What level are the people involved at? Do they roll into frit? How is the handle applied? How do you keep track of whose is whose? How much time do you allot for each one?I am actually fascinated by the details here. 800 ornaments is a boatload to keep track of.
Descriptions Please!

Now I'm going to go prep for "make your own moly furnace or crucible for under the tree".

oooh ooh sign me up !! Sign me up !!

Jon Myers
12-25-2011, 12:07 AM
We let people do everything but gather. We use metal die stamps to keep track of everything. It takes between 11 and 15 min to make a piece. We make bowls,vases, ornaments, starfish ,mugs, hearts , shells, pretty much anything someone is willing to pay for (retail + 50% for the experience) (oh, you want a whale shark mounted on a wave /coral base?...)we may have 2 people a year that weren't thrilled....

Lawrence Ruskin
12-25-2011, 09:52 AM
This is such a good idea, I can't wait to do this in the next studio I build.

I can't really have the public in my present studio "cause it's way too steep getting down the hill.

Next studio, flat, good,

Building on the side of a mountain,bad.

Merry Christmas all you guys,

You make my life a little more fun.

Stephen Bishop
12-26-2011, 08:41 PM
I have been doing this for years. Makes great quick cash. However, the experience of someone building a shop down the street actually happened! Should have had a non competion clause! Opps... I love teaching people glass. But just because you can make an ornament doesn't make you an artist! Or skilled! Hahah

David Patchen
12-26-2011, 09:04 PM
I say kudos for finding a killer niche that brings people to the shop again and again!

Unless you can't make anything more than an ornament, I don't see how someone who blows into a hose or pipe can be seen as potential competition.

I think if someone got a wild hair to build a shop on their own you'd just end up by buying their equipment on the cheap after they realized that this glass thing is kinda tricky. :)

Ben David
12-27-2011, 05:52 AM
I'm flabbergasted at the resistance to this idea.

Glass artists' 2 main complaints are:
-foreign, factory competition
-glass is no longer "hot" and has lost its cachet

So here's a promotion that provides:
- an in-depth, memorable glass experience
- a product with strong emotional resonance for the buyer
- that no factory can duplicate, favoring the small studio
- while driving traffic into the studio at prime shopping season.

What's not to like?
Every time BYOO comes up on this list - I wrack my brains trying to find a similar angle on a Jewish holiday, or the "Holy Land" tourism angle here in Israel... If I were back in the States, I'd certainly be doing this.

Hope you all had a great Christmas/Chanuka!
Ben David

Pete VanderLaan
12-27-2011, 10:49 AM
Ladle Cast your own Manora?

Lawrence Ruskin
12-27-2011, 11:40 AM
Make your own beads in Hebron.

Do they still do that?

Jon Myers
12-27-2011, 09:33 PM
Make your own balm in Gilead...

Lawrence Duckworth
12-28-2011, 09:03 AM
There are five photos of my little homemade studio posted on the furnace thread. I was thinking of mass producing it for allthe retirement community centers across the country sozz all the retiring babyboomers could feel the love and instant gratification of blowing glass.


.....:) EZ Button

Scott Novota
12-28-2011, 09:06 AM
I think some of you might be missing the point that a couple of people at the start of this I think where trying to make.

It is not about that some of the people posting here are worried about those that see or do a BYO will open a shop or take a class. No one that actaully does it is going to think it is a cake walk. I think we all agree on that. It is all the ones that see it and walk away without ever trying it.

They have formed a new view and trust me when I say it is a much lower one than the one they had before.

Which one wins? There are many many fine points in why it should be done. I personally feel that it is a great idea to do BYO wigget, just don't do them at large events where you have a ton of people walking away after seeing it and not actaully doing it. That is like the kiss of death because you are putting that false view that it is easy on parade in front of all your customers. They quickly stop being customers if they think it is easy. They extrapolate out how many could be made and hour. They think about what they make and hour. Poof....gone forever. Does not even matter if that is what your primary work is.

Been there, had them actaully tell me as much.

Doug Sheridan
12-28-2011, 10:29 AM
With that logic, my glass sales should be crashing. Our sales for all other glass is up 20% from last year. And, I think there is a correlation. More respect.
I also extrapolate costs for just about everything hand made, just a habit. Does that make their craft look easy? Nope. If it's of good value, their profit doesn't matter. Funnel cakes look easy to me, but I'll still eat one.

Which one wins? In my situation it's about 100 to 1 in favor of more appreciation. That 1% is not my customer.

Scott Novota
12-28-2011, 10:44 AM
Completely understand. I am glad it is working out for you my experience is more toward the other end but I am not playing in the same league as you guys.

It is always nice to have a larger perspective on how things work for others.


Out of curiosity what do you sell the BYO compared to the sale prices of your own work. Same wigget. I think part of the problem here for our local effort at the non-profit was the pricing of the "byo" compared to the pricing of artist made.

It was almost the same.

Also, I am talking about doing BYO in front of 100 people. Not have a event that is BYO. I think that might be a difference in approach as well. In our case 100s of people where walking away after seeing someone that had never made glass make a wigget. That wigget looked as good to them as an artist made widget. 100s of people walked away with the perspection that it was easy.

If it is a specific BYO I think it a wonderful idea and it is awesome that is has created more business.

Pete VanderLaan
12-28-2011, 12:28 PM
I have experienced the "calculator tourist" Scott refers to and Eben actually ridicules in his video multiplying 6 lino pieces a day at $5K each time 52 weeks.

They have never been my client. They have approached me but it is always from a bargaining stance assuming that it actually cost me nothing to produce the piece.

Doug and I spent some time earlier this year upgrading his image at his request. I dragged out my "glassblowers I actually respect" list. A good number of them were willing to try it. It seems to have worked out well.

David Patchen
12-28-2011, 12:28 PM
What you're getting at would only result in a competitor of ornaments, which is probably the easiest blown object to make. But I'd be pretty surprised that someone is going to get deep into owning a shop and all it entails just to make ornaments.

This reminds me of the inevitable question I always get: "how long does it take to make one of these?" Just to disabuse people of thinking that anyone can knock out glass in X hours, I generally answer that it's similar to a surgeon--it only takes him 40 min to remove an appendix, but a decade to learn how to do it right.

Pete VanderLaan
12-28-2011, 12:30 PM
You always want to ask about that first appendectomy though...

Lawrence Duckworth
12-28-2011, 12:53 PM
And those you don't respect moved up a notch about a week ago!

Ben David
12-28-2011, 02:20 PM
Make your own beads in Hebron.

Do they still do that?

Hebron is now a sad, divided city but I think some of the glass houses are still going... there is plenty of typical Arab green/blue enameled glass (including the "evil eye" beads) in all the tourist stalls in Jerusalem and elsewhere - and given the political situation, nothing is crossing from Damascus, the other historical glass center. Either Hebron is still producing them, or... Kaifeng?

Ben David

George Tessman
12-30-2011, 01:16 PM
Keep on giving those classes. I have had numbers of people who have purchased my work, who then said they took a class/ paperweight/ornament class from...fill in the blank...now they admire and respect more what goes into glassblowing. So thank you to all who teach..My new studio is not designed for the public.
At some time someone has inspired each and everyone of us to try our hands at glass. Usually with nothing more than a little trinket. Did they do it with fear of us being their competitor, or did they do it to share the fire that burns inside them. I could never disrespect my mentors with denying someone else the thrill that is glass

Rahman Anderson
12-30-2011, 06:40 PM
I am glad for the discourse. I have no real problem with it. Some of my best friends have been doing it for years and have helped me stay working and putting food in my belly with those dollars. Yes I have even helped a few people blow there own and even once here in my shop for a friend who had family in town. Philosophically it seems dangerous I guess. A friend going to the wholesale show explained once that if he wanted to retail cane vessels for between $250-3500 he could not see having a $20 paper weight on display in the booth. He thought the client who wanted to buy 4 figure and up work wants it to be exclusive, prestigious, and unrelated to cheap crap. They want to think the guy who made there art costs more to own. That his time costs more. It kinda makes sense although I am proven wrong often. Business is new to me. It does seem most people championing the blow your own experience are paying "blowers" to work with the customers. An assisting job that, you guessed it, makes anyone think they can assist. I spent the first 15 years thinking learning to make stuff was the important part. Now that I own the shop I can see more clearly the bottom line. Still I have tried making some floats and ornaments as they are supposed to be bread and butter. They just sit around collecting dust compared to the things people are not used to seeing. I may go out of business sitting here thinking byo is low brow. I won't stop making glass art. Who knows by next summer maybe that is what I do here, from my new sailboat by cell phone.

Doug Sheridan
01-01-2012, 08:49 AM
I agree in theory with Rahman. But... some would contend that if a person is selling wholesale, they have crossed over the line from artist to capitalist. Repeating designs to fill orders could be compared to making ornaments for the masses. Does the price point alone determine whether it's art or not? Where is that line between the two? Who among us never repeats anything and will never think about the selling of their work? Some do exist and there still remains a vast amount of work that fits that criteria on the internet, and I hope they never stop creating their fantastic work, but not everyone working in glass takes that road. Becoming an "artist" in glass is more rare because of the extremely high cost to create anything with hot glass. This is not watercolor. The hot shop is a hungry giant that eats everyday of the year. Some, like me, use their hot shop to create local jobs, as well as keeping the "buy local" theme alive. I have 12 employees that help create and sell things we've made in this building, and they are a major part of any decisions we make here.
Also, I have trained people to solo ornaments in about ten days. It really is quite easy to become an assistant if all you are making is ornaments, so yes I've hired them to do just that. My byo customers walk past $10k sculptures to enter the hot shop and maybe that is confusing to some of them. But, we are not telling them that those two things are the same, nor would they believe it to be so.

Pete VanderLaan
01-01-2012, 10:49 AM
Even so, there is a glass ceiling between what is perceived of as high end art and production. Simply put: If you do Rosen, you are never going to be in habitat Gallery- ever. Your work has to be perceived of as art worthy of collection by self proclaimed sophisticates. That in turn is determined by art gallery owners who choose who the sophisticates get to see.

Harvey used to put it simply. If you made a really good piece there would be a bunch of galleries that would want to handle your work. If you couldn't supply them the galleries, which are distinctly capitalistic would dump you and go find someone else. You would have to take on assistants to make the volume the galleries require and at that point you would be roundly criticized for not making your own work.

Some actually escape that particular bit of gravity, but not many. Dale has amazingly. Billy really stayed with the original ethic of not reproducing work much at all but lapsed into some pretty curious stuff when he began making Kenyan tribesmen.

The other paradigm is the guy asking a woman to sleep with him for one million dollars and she says yes. Then the man says "How about ten dollars" and the woman, offended say's "do you think I'm a common whore?". The man of course say's "we've already established that, now we're just taking price."

Which in my view is pretty much where the galleries are if you strip everything away. They like the high end. I just like to see people try really hard and make things to the best of their ability.

Doug Sheridan
01-01-2012, 12:54 PM
So, in the cesspool that is left to me and others, the joy really comes from trying hard to improve what you are creating, even for us. Worrying about making ends meet is no joy. In fact, it makes the whole thing suck and I want no part of that. I am vigilant about running a business for most of my day. We try to make things that people want to buy, and design new things constantly. I can low-brow with the best of 'em too. I wish we could achieve success by making high end, but my location is not suited for that market. Best of all, we have a lot of fun here, and that is priceless. I love my job, byo and all. (final total 930)

Mark Rosenbaum
01-01-2012, 01:34 PM
Well said Doug!
I may be a whore, but this whore has been able to live off of, and raise a family including two kids in college, from the fruits of my labors. I have been living from my income as a glass artist for over 25 years, and I would not want it any other way. Maybe I wont get in to Habitat, but I'm living a pretty good life without them.

Lawrence Duckworth
01-01-2012, 03:01 PM
I have trained people to solo ornaments in about ten days. o.

I'm on my third pot of glass (200lber) and just now turned the annealer on for the first time, thinking maybe I'll actually make something worth keeping.

Yes...be very afraid of us byo :)

Pete VanderLaan
01-01-2012, 04:05 PM
the joy really comes from trying hard to improve what you are creating, even for us.
**************
And I totally approve of that approach. i agree with Mark as well. I've been on both sides of the fence and interestingly, it was rare for me to like the people who were buying seriously expensive pieces of my work. They always seemed to be doing it for the wrong reasons.

Even now, I really like making bottles.

Ben David
01-02-2012, 12:57 PM
Worrying about making ends meet is

Reality.
Faced by every great artist and craftsperson.
Sorry - I have little patience for the idea that Aaaaht should exist in some never-never land where the regular rules don't apply.

"Making ends meet" is part of creating something real in this world - instead of fantasizing and doodling. As a friend of mine repeated to his 1st-year art-school students: the Artist is the one who makes Art, not the one who sits in a cafe talking about Aaaaahrt.

"Appealing to buyers" is the other side of the coin whose shinier side is that folderol about artists being more perceptive, and having real, eye-opening, life-enriching observations to share with The Rest of Us.

So: do you have something to say - and the talent to say it tellingly?

Folks - it's almost 100 years since the Dadaists presented a urinal as sculpture, and the Bauhaus opened... 100 years of industrial design, mass production... 50 years of post-war ironic high-concept quoting of popular culture... sure the galleries still make money by pretending nothing's changed - and when it comes to human vanity, nothing will - but artists are wasting their time asking "but is it Art?" is the era of the Phillipe Starck juicer and the Zaha Hadid toilet brush (available at Target...)

We should emulate the Japanese - who have declared master dyers, potters, and other craftsmen "national treasures"... but until we do, at least know that the gallery Aaahrt game is a game, and don't invest your ego.

Lawrence Ruskin
01-02-2012, 01:04 PM
The states do proclaim national treasures.

Dale is one....

And rightfully so.

Tom Fuhrman
01-02-2012, 05:01 PM
the original guys in the Bauhaus were not hung up on mass production, reference the works of Kandinsky,Paul Klee, Josef Albers, Lionel Feininger, Johannes Itten, Gropius, Mies Van der Rohe, Oscar Shlemmer+. These guys were not into making things just for industrialization. Look at their work. They were the real founders of the movement. They just trying to understand form, color, line , etc. The basic sourse was divided up into study of construction, space and color study, study of materials, nature study, study of equipment and tools and for many different materials, i.e. glass, clay, stone, wood, metal, textiles. Little of the things they designed were ever really mass produced. Commercial considerations was stated as being the last consideration. it was more about creativity and imagination. Read Itten's book Design and Form, the Basic course at the Bauhaus and you'll see it was not so much about designing for mass production as we have been lead to believe. It was about understanding form, color and good design which if you're making one or 10,000 is still important today.
I knew several of the original guys that were there and they were not just into making multiples, but Kandinsky did believe that all forms were made up of circles, triangles and rectilinear forms or portions of them which I still believe is basicly true. I believe that much of the bent towards industrialization was done to try and secure funding from the government at the time which was a very difficult task with the economic state being what it was after WWI.
sorry for the rant!

Franklin Sankar
01-02-2012, 05:32 PM
I believe we are moving nearer to the answer (what is art)and when we get the answer the question will change.
I look forward to the day when fine art is king again and then the cycle starts all over.
Franklin

Pete VanderLaan
01-02-2012, 10:14 PM
Making fun of art is every bit as bad as making fun of craft.

Franklin Sankar
01-03-2012, 07:14 PM
opps. Teach caught me. Lucky it was not Henry.:eek:
Franklin

Rahman Anderson
01-04-2012, 09:35 PM
It would make me have fun to sell byo's and then not help at all. $45 bucks and I'll give you another shot... In glass one the teacher had us make avolio stacks as a drill. Of course we all sucked and made ugly things that fell to the floor. I probably wouldn't be here blowing if the challenge wasn't so great. That memory is more valuable to me then an ornament I might have kept if I had help. I am being emotional and philosophic. I have also been challenged by the creativity and fun I took for granted since I opened my shop. I also may need to move anytime due to assholes for landlords. I could fight them and win but not for much less then I stand to make in the 18 months left in my lease and if I sue they won't renew. If only I had done byo's I might be able to afford to take them on. I'd rather spend time and money on a new place and try to have fun. Hats off to all glass makers who make a living they can live with and have fun, what ever you make.