ANTIDOTES TO ELITISM | Bullseye Glass Co. | Bullseye Glass Co

ANTIDOTES TO ELITISM

Number Two in my little List of Irritations is the crabapples who accuse Bullseye of being a hotbed of elitist snobbery with no interest in the beginner or hobby user.

1.KanekoWaveWall.jpg
An obvious diss to anyone working out of a QuickFire, Bullseye has clearly lost sight of the noble masses who wouldn’t dream of making whole walls out of glass threads.

I had planned to challenge that slur by talking about our basic company philosophy – a belief that accomplished and talented artists in glass having success on the national and international level adds to the richness of the field for everyone, including beginners.

I was going to argue that public awareness of kiln-glass as a medium deserving of museum and high-end gallery attention brings value to the craft on all levels.

I thought I’d point out that most of the artists that Bullseye exhibits and promotes at its gallery have active teaching careers along with their studio work.

And stress that many of those artists share their knowledge with newcomers to the field through short-courses, lectures, and technical support of all forms from Internet bulletin boards to their participation in educational conferences.

2.-Klaus-2.jpg
After over forty years in the field and arguably the most distinguished career of any artist working with our glass, Klaus Moje still shows up at the most obscure ends of the earth to share what he knows with all levels of kilnformers. North Lands Creative Glass, 2005

I’d point out that Bullseye regularly captures the technical information gained from working with major artists and publishes it for the benefit of beginners and advanced makers alike. How many coming into the field today realize that Bullseye’s work with Moje in the early 1980’s led to the development of the world’s first line of Tested Compatible glass?

I’d explain that many of the methods taken for granted in this field resulted directly from Bullseye’s work with major artists.

3.Vitrigraph.jpg
Let your reach exceed your grasp… I’m guessing that a lot of newbies have no idea that the Vitrigraph kiln came out of a project at Bullseye in 1993 with Narcissus Quagliata and Rudi Gritsch?

Finally, I’d argue our belief that the profits made from hobby sales need to be poured back into the field at the gallery and research level in order to support the growth and longevity of the medium for everyone.

That’s how I THOUGHT I’d address this attitude of hostility that festers just below the surface of our community and periodically boils up onto an Internet bulletin board or percolates at a corner table of whispering malcontents during an otherwise pleasant glass conference.

I figured that I’d pull out my weathered little soap box and launch into the most important rant of all: the need for all of us to push ourselves out of our comfort zones; to accept the virtue of one’s reach exceeding one’s grasp…until I realized that a quotation from Robert Browning would likely just put another nail in my hoity-toity coffin.

See, I believe pretty ferociously that the problem isn’t with the so-called “elite” – whom I’ve never heard describe themselves as such – but with the insecurities that grip all of us in the face of others’ success.

Well, folks, embrace it. There will always be people who are more talented, more admired, more popular, better connected, richer, smarter, thinner … than we are.

And we just hate it, don’t we?

If not, why are we all so gleefully gaping at pictures of celebrities with bad – or no – hair trudging back into rehab clinics?

Then somewhere along this mental muddling it suddenly occurred to me that I could be missing a major commercial opportunity. There is clearly money to be made off this simple but disturbing realization.

Forget about questioning yourself. Why reflect on the psychology of your resentment when you can BUY a remedy from Bullseye’s newest product line: ELITE-AWAY. I haven’t tested this stuff out with our Research and Education department yet, but I’m guessing that our marketing manager can whip up the extra catalog pages pretty quickly when she sees the vast commercial potential of my product offering:

ThickSkin: Does the success of others leave an unsightly residue on your ego? A single sheet of ThickSkin will leave your bottomside unchapped when you get that tenth rejection letter from the New Glass Review.

GlassTact: a dose once a day and you’ll be able to say things like “You’ve got a solo at Heller? I’m thrilled for you” without gagging.

EZ-Lose: Embrace your ignorance. A software program that takes the sting out of being a fusing ignoramus. Just punch in the “Gargantuan Bubble” cycle and relax. You’ll soon be giddy with delight at having blown up an $80 sheet of dichroic. An upgrade to the program includes a set of tail-wagging schedules guaranteed to tickle your inner Beagle.

Quik-Ire: Plug in to any 110 outlet and enjoy the surge of Instant Outrage at the thought of people buying glass sheets that cost more than a 6-pack of Safeway soda.

System86: the WMD of glass class warfare. One shot and everyone making work of greater aesthetic value than a refrigerator magnet will become radioactive dust. Propels you instantly to the top of (what’s left of) the field.

But I’d better stop here. I’m clearly at risk of exposing the cutting edge of our research efforts. Yikes! We could get co-opted again by the ever-vigilant competition.

And worse yet, I’m treading dangerously close to the edge of my next bitch: Fusing for Dummies.

As always, I encourage your comments, death-threats, confessional soul-searches, admissions of elite-o-phobia (c’mon someone’s got to admit to this), and financial donations (buy some Bullseye, support a blogger)

28 Responses to ANTIDOTES TO ELITISM

  1. Steve says:

    Are there really charges of Bullseye elitism? Wow! It’s good to be on the other side of the pond sometimes I guess. I’ve not heard this in the UK.

    Anyway I enjoyed the jokes.

    Steve

  2. Lani says:

    Steve,
    You’re right. I’ve never heard it in the UK either.
    It may be an American thing – like our complaining that the rest of the world doesn’t use the proper paper sizes. ;-) L

  3. bertglass says:

    Anybody in the glass world who has ever shown their work at a public venue, knows that the American public has awareness of one glass artist.

    We need a public TV program that showcases a great kiln worker!

  4. Dave J says:

    Lani, I’m certainly one of those “beginners” as I’ve only been fusing glass for about 4 years, in the hinterland of Edmonton, Alberta. I had the incredible opportunity of 2 weeks of courses at Bullseye in January this year, and took advantage of my time in Portland to include a visit to the Bullseye Connection Gallery. I will be honest – the experience was almost overwhelming! I had seen photos of most of the artwork there and the actual pieces far exceeded my ideas of the work. This was an opportunity to see work at incredible levels of proficiency and skill, to see something of what is possible with glass, to see another’s vision. I have found that the more I learn about glass the more there is to learn, and my experiences with Bullseye (as a wholesale customer) and at Bullseye (as a student) have been most rewarding. I have found your company and staff to be incredibly open and free with advice, direction and information. If this is what elitism is all about then bring it on!! Our journey through life is what is important and, for me, to see the quality of work produced by the artists at Bullseye and displayed by Bullseye is fuel for the creative fire. I’m certainly nowhere near that level of proficiency or design sense, but that doesn’t diminish me – it only encourages me to strive for growth. Thanks.

    Dave

  5. Morganica says:

    Now, now, Lani…actually, I’ve never thought there was anything wrong with being elite–it’s a degree of excellence I strive to attain. I have trouble understanding why people use “elite” as an epithet because, as one of my favorite movies suggests, saying that everyone’s special is “another way of saying that no one is.”

    I think there are a lot of technical challenges that go with being a glass artist (although not necessarily more than other media). As long as kilnformed glass remains a novelty in some parts of the world people will be able to slap a few pieces of glass into a kiln, nuke it according to a pre-programmed schedule and come out with something they can sell. I don’t have any beef with that.

    But I also don’t see anyone charging great modern painters with being elitist because they refuse to compete with paint-by-numbers kits. There are people who do craft with a medium, people who do decorative stuff, people who do art. Usually the distinctions are pretty clear, but maybe because glass is so new we’re still getting confused on which should be which.

    There’s a lot more to what the masters do than just slapping glass into a kiln, a much deeper understanding of the medium, usually a lot more attention paid to the finish and–here’s the big one: They’re doing it on purpose, not by happy accident.

    Now, I *do* become irritated when someone pronounces that so-and-so is an ahhhhtist and that this guy over there isn’t. But that’s the whole point of the art world and cafe society, and I don’t see how we get around it. Promoting kilnformed glass as a serious medium for art, however, doesn’t automatically put someone in the snob category. Elitist, maybe. ;-)

  6. I’ve been in business for over twenty-five years and fusing for about four.

    My graphic design business name is Full Spectrum Design. I was using that when I created my web site for my fused glass. Didn’t have any problems with it until I was at a show describing the glass process and mentioned Bullseye glass.

    “Oh,” my customer said, “I figured you use Spectrum glass. I was wondering about all the beautiful colors you have.”

    New business cards, new web site, new name: Valerie Adams | Modern Fused Glass.

    Now, I guess I’ll have to do something about my email address!

  7. Lani says:

    Valerie, That’s hysterical.

    I saw your work under its former identity some time ago. I knew how twisted I’d let myself become when my admiration for it curdled on reading the studio name.

    Thanks for saving me a couple of Xanax.

    - Lani

    PS. The philodendron is awesome.

  8. Mike says:

    I’ve been using kiln-formed glass in my stuff for about 20 years, and have always gotten a big laugh out of the notion that the material or process should somehow add or detract, by itself alone, from the value of the end result. It’s not what you use, it’s what you do with it, at least in my view. And BE has been nothing but helpful to me; in fact, living as I do in the boonies, I couldn’t get much of the glass I like to use if it wasn’t for the Bullseye Connection. In this regard, i.e. being willing to supply anyone with quality materials, Bullseye is indeed “elite” and I hope it stays this way, too. But I do want want of those Quik-Ires: are these available in a 400 volt, three-phase industrial version?

  9. sparky says:

    i have been a professional artist for many years and have been working in glass for about 4. perhaps i have been lucky to have been around a community that has been supportive and hasn’t been exclusionary (is that a word?), but i have always felt that there is room for everyone. why can’t we all just get along? why must we separate ourselves by creating the elites and the others? we are all on our own journey, and some of us are beginning, some are working along, and some of us have gotten to a place of some recognition for all the years of work and experience. isn’t that great? aren’t we all just grand (well, maybe most of us)? i say let’s give each other mutual pats on the backs instead of stabs in the back.

  10. Tony S. says:

    Lani,

    While my opinion of Bullseye has matured over the years, the one thing that continues to make me uncomfortable is your willingness to take jabs at Spectrum. Does it make you feel better to wrestle in the mud with a stupid hand puppet that says inane things about themselves and their competition (you)? Defend yourself when you have to, but some of your comments here and elsewhere DO make it sound as though you’re looking down your elitist nose at the other glass in the marketplace.

    In every other way, Bullseye is a class act. Why lower yourself by making what come across as personal attacks on the competition?

    Tony

  11. Lani says:

    Tony,

    It’s fine to say “don’t wrestle in the mud with a stupid hand puppet”, but there is more at issue here than marketing silliness or blatantly ridiculous product claims. There is technical misinformation that confuses the basic issues of kilnforming.

    Those “inane” things you refer to may sound laughable to you. To many beginners, they represent the first misstep in an effort to understand how glass behaves in a kiln.

    Do I feel “personal” about that? Hell yes. We’ve invested decades in researching and developing valid methods and materials for this field. Would I rather not have to wrestle with a puppet? Of course. But until a real human being steps out from behind the absurd claims and debates these issues publicly, I guess it’s me and the little green guy.

    In the next few entries to this blog I’m going to try to discuss some of the technical misinformation that’s become imbedded in our field recently. Much of this misinformation is a result of some pretty aggressive commercial agendas. I’ll try not to slag the puppet too badly in doing it. – Lani

  12. davidknox says:

    Hi Lani

    I agree with Tony about Bullseye’s willingness to wrestle in the mud with Spectrum. I think it is not a very professional posture- even if they did throw the first stone. I find the technical discussions regarding shrinkage and uneven thickness of Spectrum sheet glass ludicrist. To try to tell us on any two layer design of a given area that it really doesn’t cost that much more because of shrinkage and uneven thickness in Spectrum is insulting. I have never had any customer complain that something was .5mm thinner than they expected. I have never been forced to go buy more glass because my piece came out too thin or shrunk too much- except when my design was fundamentally wrong. We all make technical adjustments for glass flow, meniscus, stack-up- depending on the materials we are using in the construction and design. Only a complete beginner without experience in the materials would buy your argument which makes me also wonder why you posed it.

    I also think that “technical” argument attempts to justify your mercenary practice of selling your sheet glass by the lb versus the area (except through your store- Why is that?). I believe Spectrum hit a sore point- an unspoken truth- that is completely unrelated to the art or the material. Selling sheets by the lb guarantees your raw material yield without any benefit to the client and if anyone should know that, it would be Bullseye, the creator of fusing. The weight of a 20 x 35 x 3mm sheet of glass is generally immaterial to me. I see no benefit that it weighed 8.28 lbs this time versus 7.95 lb the last time- I don’t micro-adjust the size of my cuts to adjust for the added weight. The benefit is your own and makes even the simple task of figuring out the cost of a case, difficult.

    The truth of the matter is that Spectrum makes a high quality product, is a very good manufacturer with a strong distribution network and their glass costs a lot less. They have fewer colors, less overall product selection and it behaves differently- not better or worse- just differently. So, we learn to work with it and create within those parameters. I wish your glass was the same price- No, I wish it was cheaper, who wouldn’t? I understand that it cannot be and so I use it when it is economically feasible for me to do so or if it is the best choice for what I am trying to artistically or technically accomplish. I like that I have more than one choice in stock glass and that one behaves very differently than the other- it gives me flexibility of design.

    I think as an advocate of the art form Bullseye should applaud anything that makes it easier for people to start fusing- cheaper glass, preprogrammed kilns, starter kits- anything. If someone tries it out and is drawn to it, they’ll end up using Bullseye, programming kilns, checking out all sorts of weird stuff and creating mountains of scrap glass. There is no right or wrong way to do anything in this field (within material limits which we all discover for ourselves) and I have not found all the “technical” information I have received from Bullseye to be accurate or work for me. But who did it hurt and who cares? I did it a different way because it worked for me in my particular combination of circumstances. Bullseye is sounding like a company that is very afraid of a competitor and that is perhaps why the “elitest” issue keeps arising: You can’t say there is a right way- You can only say you are. And you are really good at what you do and what you make. And, you cost more- cool.

  13. pdx-ogg says:

    Incredible. I haven’t heard of anything in the business world quite as odd and unique as this Spectrum Uroboros/BE war. I haven’t thought about it in a while, and coming back to it with fresh perspective, it really strikes one how utterly… What. Words fail. It’s just, CRAZY. Its crazy to spend time and resources in this way. Bizarre. Someday this whole story, with the graphs and charts and melt schedules and sock puppets, will be in Harpers as told by David Sedaris.

  14. Lani says:

    I agree that it’s kinda creepy, David. Charts and graphs are a time-consuming and expensive way to defend against a handpuppet, but our Butterscotch Pony refused to lower herself. – Lani

  15. Lani says:

    OK, seriously, I have to admit that I was looking for some controversy here. I finally got a little, thanks to Tony & the Davids.

    The core question that interests me is how a company responds to attacks from a competitor. (Or from a dealer or from a newbie who feels slighted… ) We’ve obviously taken a pretty head-on stance with this blog thing. From a purely academic view, I’d be interested to hear other opinions. For the moment, leave me and the green guy out of the discussion.

    Do you think it’s best to say nothing and let a competitor’s claims go unchallenged?

    Should one try to refute the claims with the dry “data” – what David refers to as “charts, graphs and firings schedules”?

    What about just making a joke of it?

    Of course, there’s always the legal system. (That was sure fun)

    I’d welcome anyone with (or without) knowledge of the broader business world to chime in here.

    - Lani

  16. davidknox says:

    Hi Lani

    OK, from a business perspective-
    Yes- let the competitors claims go by the wayside unless they are deemed slanderous in which case you did the right thing and took legal action. I also very much liked the way you intially handled it when you won- you simply asked them to stop. Trying to define what is “technically correct” in this field and claiming you are not more expensive when you, puts you in no-win positions. When large, important customers (your distributors) flame on you, listen to them and assume their concerns are valid and look for a solution which satisifies the goals of all those involved. Just do what you do, charge what you have to charge without apologies, and just continue doing more of it. If it turns out you have to lower your pricing to remain competitive, look for ways to keep your margins through innovation or methodology- just as you did with the Tektra. You make great glass- just continue and find ways to conintue.

  17. Morganica says:

    OK. First, what butterscotch pony? I get the hand puppet…but there’s a candied equine in this war as well?

    Second, discussing this generally, and not in terms of BE/Spectrum/Uroboros/whoever, I think there are three types of business attacks: the ones you fight, the ones you deal with privately and the ones you sigh over and ignore. If a competitor makes a misleading public statement about your product and it threatens to hurt your business, yeah, you fight, and you fight publicly. Best way to destroy someone’s credibility is to prove them wrong–it’s a defense that has a much lower rate of backfire than personal attack–so to me, you take their points, carefully refute each one with hard evidence…and win your point while making them look stupid. (Ain’t schadenfreude wonderful?)

    If someone’s attacking your business through innuendo, rumor, and veiled references to customers, that’s harder. If you make a public statement saying “our competition claims we’re doing this but we’re not” and the competition hasn’t said it publicly…your neck’s out and you’ve just informed everyone who never heard the rumor.

    What you do depends on your goals. I’m argumentative and self-righteous and I just like a good mixup every now and then, so if it wasn’t a business issue, I’d happily pick a fight. If my goal is to grow the business, though, I’d probably combat it with an image campaign that addressed the rumors without mentioning that anybody ever said it about MY business… and then I’d do some high-touch dealing, privately, with the rumor-mongerers and my most-affected customers. I’m a big fan of the “WE would never say these guys are scum-sucking dead-brained jerks, but you’re free to draw that conclusion on your own…” school of marketing.

    Or, if it was more irritant than business obstacle, I’d put it down to envy of my success, sigh a lot and never, ever invite those guys to my parties, i.e., ignore it.

    I don’t know enough about the inner workings of the glass industry to say which it should be here, although my inclination is to go for public-positive, private beat-the-hell-outta the rumor mongers. Feel free to tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about–I know you’ve successfully defended misstatements in court and that couldn’t have been cheap or fun.

  18. Tony S. says:

    The problem with accepting personal attacks as an approach is that, like allowing four letter words into our vocabulary, they tend to slip out at the most inappropriate times.

    While it’s easy to say that you’re defending yourself with the comments that you make, one could imagine situations where, walking through a distributor’s warehouse, disparaging comments are made about the competition’s glass sitting on shelves near Bullseye glass. If the comment is overeard, you are reinforcing the image that you are hoping to discourage.

    Tony

  19. Lani says:

    Tony, since I’m somewhat baffled by your comment, I’ve asked Mary Kay who has spent years in distributors’ warehouses walking by competitor’s shelves to respond to you on this. I’m not sure whether she will, but she’s got more experience than I do, so I hope she does. – Lani

  20. Mary Kay says:

    Tony, you wrote,”While it’s easy to say that you’re defending yourself with the comments that you make, one could imagine situations where, walking through a distributor’s warehouse, disparaging comments are made about the competition’s glass sitting on shelves near Bullseye glass. If the comment is overeard, you are reinforcing the image that you are hoping to discourage.”

    What exactly do you mean by this? Have you actually experienced overhearing a manufacturer’s rep trash-talking in a distributor’s warehouse? I have been in a few warehouses, and I don’t recall devoting any negative comments whatsoever to discussion of competing products. It would make people uncomfortable, and it would be inappropriate in that setting. When I go visit a distributor warehouse, the purpose is to support that distributor in selling glass, to meet people who work with and sell our products, to listen to feedback on how our products are performing, and to provide information. And to learn if the distributor is proactive in representing our product and to express my appreciation for his/her efforts. Trash-talking other manufacturers is pretty far from my mind on warehouse visits. Besides the items above I’m mostly thinking about how I could persuade the distributor to add more lighting to the Bullseye aisle. And I think the other Bullseye reps are pretty much like me that way.

  21. judy says:

    I’m a newbie first class and have asked some real newbie questions..and have always been treated with respect and a true desire to help me. I’m retired and not Bullseye’s biggest customer, but I always feel like a VIP when I deal with Bullseye.

  22. Lani says:

    Dear David K.

    You bring up numerous issues in your first comment. I’ll try to deal with them in order.

    RE our discussions of the irregularities in Spectrum glass:

    Obviously my semi-comedic efforts to address charges of our “jiggly wiggly” character and high price by constructing a real life lay-up of the material did not amuse you. I honestly felt – and still do – that I was offering a tongue-in-cheek alternative to some rather disparaging and not entirely accurate descriptions of our product. Sorry it fell flat for you.

    For anyone who is clueless about this entire topic, it’s covered at:

    http://www.bullseyeglass.com/connection/education/bullseye_or_s96/index.html

    RE our selling our glass by the pound rather than by area being a “mercenary” tactic:

    In years past, hand-made art glasses like Bullseye, Oceana, Uroboros, Lens, etc. were traditionally sold by the pound. The machine-made glasses were sold by the square foot. It’s a tradition, not a marketing strategy.

    As for a manufacturer manipulating the thickness/weight to increase profits, IF it were true it could be employed more easily in the opposite direction. Glass manufacturing costs are based on the weight (which translates as thickness). The thinner the factory rolls the sheet, the more money it makes per square foot. I won’t suggest that Spectrum manipulates the thickness of their glass for gain, if you don’t suggest that Bullseye does.

    RE there being “no right or wrong way to do anything in this field”:

    I can’t do more than wholeheartedly disagree. There are lots of wrong ways to do things in kilnforming. Not understanding them is expensive, especially to a beginner. This isn’t arrogance. It’s experience.

    RE our technical information not being accurate or useful to you.

    We are far from infallible. We rely on users to let us know if either our glass or our information doesn’t work for them. If you can be specific about exactly what technical information is inaccurate, I’d be happy to use this blog to investigate how we disagree.

    RE our being good at what we do and what we make and costing more.

    Whew – something we don’t have to debate!

    Seriously, I do appreciate the comments. Hearing the other side is always instructive, if not entirely comfortable. – Lani

  23. Lani says:

    Judy, thanks for writing! I’m glad to hear that the staff here treats you like a VIP. Me they’ve lashed to this cyber stake where they can watch me duck tomatoes and other overripe projectiles. ;-) Lani

  24. davidknox says:

    Hi Lani Thanks for the info and more importantly- thanks for posting it; I know it wasn’t fun but I really was trying to offer info that would help BE. I don’t communicate much with the glass world because I am very busy but I was passing by your website and thought this one was important enough for my glorious words of wisdom. I also really liked that you were asking- pretty gutsy and admirable too. You’re right, I did miss the tongue -in-cheek nature of your website rebuttal on the cost and all that; I took it as defensive/sensitive/insecure- and yes, it was ridicules. I know that you historically sold the glass by the pound but I have a hard time seeing any benefit to a fuser in that practice assuming a nominal 3mm sheet is just that. I didn’t think you had your finger on the scale but this practice could contribute to a perception of an elitist attitude since it seems to benefit you, not us. On the topic of no right and wrong in fusing, we will have to agree to disagree and my comment was made in the context of relatively harmless information or perhaps harmless misinformation one finds on other websites. As a compulsive inventor, my bent has also always been that mistakes are the way I learn so “doing it wrong” was at least as valuable as “doing it right”- so my lessons were all expensive but important. I see any of the graphs and charts as simply points of departure for a process that has inherently too many variables that are also intrinsically tied to the art form. We shipped over 40,000 sq feet of fused glass last year on equipment I designed, modified and built so it is unlikely that my technical approach is the same as yours. I promise you- I’m doing it the wrong way-everyday. I guess that makes me an inverse-elitest, or a Seinfeld character.

  25. Tony S. says:

    Lani,
    My comment was intended to suggest a scenario where negative comments about the competition might evoke an unwelcome reaction.

    Mary Kay,
    I’ve seen you take it on the chin for Bullseye and respond with just a smile. I imagine that the behaviour that I suggested would make you feel quite uncomfortable.

    mea culpa

    Tony

  26. sunnystrapp says:

    Hi ya Lani, as you must surely be aware….The N African foozers viewpoint is: use the cheapest, worst material available, and if you are an ARTIST you can probably convince yourself that you is jus as good as all of’em uthers. There is a market for everything, even if its made of window glass mixed with lime slake and mud, if ya mount it on a nice iron hoop, you jus GOT to have it made, and if you can’t use it for a birthday gift, maybe your aunt will pay you for it. Or find yourself a hot swiss gallery to push you up into the lime light.

    Bottom line: Mom always said, ya cant make a silk purse from a sows ear. I love being elite. Suffer suckers. If ya cant afford it, find a job.
    Bullseye is incomparable.

  27. Cinderella says:

    Hi Lani,

    I just came back from the Glass Craft and Bead Expo in Las Vegas. I had a great time and learned some new techniques including Fritography from Michael DuPille, a Bullseye friend. I am writing to this blog because I encountered Spectrum 96 all over the place but no official Bullseye presence in the Expo Center and Bullseye glass in just one of my four glasses. I even had to endure major Bullseye-bashing from one instructor off and on for the entire 9-5pm class.

    I had several classmates that were just beginning to get into fused glass as they had worked with stained glass in the past. With the large Spectrum presence, one of the more prominent instructors being married to a Spectrum big wig and at least one instructor bad-mouthing Bullseye, I had to reflect on why Bullseye wasn’t there officially to let new fusers know their choices?

    Was there something to the rant I’d heard about Bullseye brass being elitist and only caring about European artists? Doesn’t sound like the Bullseye I know.

    Was it true that if you are an instructor and you want to have Bullseye sponsor a class that you have to sign a non-competition agreement (i.e. no Uroboros glass or Spectrum glass in the same classroom) but the same isn’t true if you want to have Uroboros/Spectrum sponsor a class?

    I’ll tell you, Lani, I got an earful and I wasn’t happy. I would think you wouldn’t be happy either. The GCBE is a big deal with hobbyists and artisans coming from around the world – really! Each person that leaves the GCBE thinking that Spectrum is better than Bullseye, doesn’t need cleaning before you put it in the kiln and is easier to cut than Bullseye is not just one customer lost. That person spreads it to another and another and …

    Please consider coming to GCBE next year. It isn’t a retail selling point for you perhaps but your lack of exposure was glaring.

    Cindy

  28. Lani says:

    Hi Cindy,

    Thanks for calling my attention to the atmosphere at Glass Craft Expo.

    I’m afraid that my response here is going to be a bit long-winded. Sorry.

    The bottom line is that Bullseye is a small company. We have to make choices as to where we spend our educational money.

    We’ve looked at the national scene in kiln-glass and identified that good quality regional education in our field is severely lacking. We’ve decided to address this problem by working with regional retailers and teaching studio operators at our own factory studios to help them grow their local programs.

    In regular Teaching Forums, we update these groups of selected instructors on the latest technical information and teaching methods. We support them to grow their programs in their regions so that beginners aren’t dependent on a commercial trade fair in Las Vegas where – by your own telling – they may encounter teachers who waste their time bashing a company that isn’t there or teaching students that certain glasses don’t need to be cleaned before firing.

    We are proud of the exceptional participants in these Forums, many of whom have gone on to build world-caliber teaching programs in their areas. Among the earliest is the amazing Vitrum Studios in Maryland where the level of instruction, visiting artists, and facilities offers educational opportunities that exceed anything possible in a hotel trade show environment:

    http://www.vitrumstudio.com/

    I hope I can devote a future blog to talking about some of these incredible studios.

    Incidentally, a number of the best teachers at Glass Craft Expo have taken part in our Teacher Forums and have taken away valuable techniques and technical information that they continue to share with the GCBE audience.

    We also host a touring exhibition of contemporary kiln-glass with related workshops, lectures and demonstrations led by skilled artists, teachers and technicians. We have hosted these shows and workshops in the Illinois, Florida, Texas, and the DC areas.

    We provide glass to hundreds of teachers who work with us and have for years. And yes, we are and must be selective. For the most part we work with artists and teachers who are committed to our product, who know it well because they use it in their own work. Personally, I would not be comfortable taking instruction from an artist who is teaching with a product he/she doesn’t normally use.

    I am sure that there is a lot of money to be made by exhibitors at a show like Glass Craft Expo. Our absence from the show has nothing to do with being elitist. We just think there is a better way to provide quality education for beginners. And that’s where we’re spending our money.

    It’s unfortunate if some attendees at GCBE are being misinformed about our products and our business practices, but I am confident that many more are getting the other side of the story in an equally – and likely more – exciting learning environment closer to home.

    - Lani

    PS. As for our only caring about European artists – well, what can I say other than “sheeesh!”

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