This is not my normal kind of post. I have not just finished a big commission, though I have plenty of them to be getting on with. It’s also very early in the morning, so my family know there is something up today! Indeed there is. I have got up early to day to (slight panic) bulk buy essential materials of my trade! Why? Well…..
Spectrum Glass Company announced the sad news that after 40 years of art glass production they are set to close. I use a lot of Spectrum glass, that clever texture that makes the glass look like ripples on water- that is their glass. Glass with a perfect flat finish to print onto – that’s their glass. Affordable, reliable, easy to cut and constantly pushing forward the science of glass for enhanced compatibility and new effects in warm glass techniques; I have come to take their products for granted. For example I start a major public commission in September and I was planning to use their glass for its fabrication. The main reason for their demise seems to be a dramatic drop in sales since ‘the c
rash’ they say around 40%. Now Spectrum are not a small, artisan company they are one of a handful of international glass manufacturers who specialise in art glass and this is a major disruption in the force for us glass artists. Even glass artists who do not use their products will feel the effects as it is bound to have a knock on effect to the pricing of other companies glass (especially warm glass supplies), as glass becomes a rarer commodity – that’s just supply and demand.
But how can this be happening? My studio is not in decline! I am busy, too busy, I cannot keep up with demand for my work from galleries, I have a 3 month lead time with commissions. At gallery openings and Private Views people always enquire if I am busy, I can always honestly say, ‘Yes, I am so busy I struggle to keep up with it. Stained glass is a declining industry and their are fewer people with my skills with working studios every year – I get busier all the time.’
But I guess Spectrum’s closure is the reality of my slightly flippant words, this is the first time I am faced with the flip side of this supply and demand situation, as our skills become scarce so do the materials we work with and the people who make them for us. RIP Spectrum Glass, I will miss you very much.