Paper Tigers with Fusible Teeth? | Bullseye Glass Co. | Bullseye Glass Co

Paper Tigers with Fusible Teeth?

CHINA

BOO! Closing in on Halloween, there’s lots of scary stuff around. Especially if you’re a Bull.

Lately it seems like I’m getting red flags waved in my face at every turn.

As a small business in a heavily regulated industry in a country struggling with a manufacturing-hostile economy, it’s easy to see red. Add to that the joys of Making a Living in the Visual Arts and it’s not hard to feel under constant siege.

• “Give us free glass, or we’ll use another brand”.

• “If you sell direct, we’ll drop your product line [that we barely carry anyway]”.

• “We don’t care if you say it’s inaccurate to call Bullseye “90 COE”, it makes it easier for us to sell.”

I haven’t heard the “corporate” or “elitist” charges yet this week, but it’s only Tuesday.

Strangely, the red flag at the top of this post is pretty far down on my list of Rantable Topics. But I saw it raised over on the Warm Glass board a few days ago, so I’ll throw my two cents in over here (I try more and more not to rant in other people’s living rooms).

Apparently the Chinese are coming in with cheap product. I think we’re supposed to be worried about our business.

Which business is that? The one of providing endless technical support? The one of holding millions of dollars in inventory so we can guarantee speedy delivery? The one of running a department of 9 full-time technicians who test and teach seven days a week? The one of working directly with hundreds of artists so that we can stay on top of new methods and demands?

Cheap glass? We’ve been threatened with that for over a decade.

First it was coming in from Eastern Europe, then Western Europe, then there was someone in Australia making float compatible color. Once upon a time a major US distributor told us he’d found a “glass bridge” that could be painted onto any glass to make it compatible with any other glass. The heaviest bombardment came from our friends up north with cheap glass served up with a lot of pseudo-scientific advertising claims that we had to take to court to beat.

GLASSTEC

GLASSTEC. Rhymes with trainwreck. If you ever want to get run over by every wild-eyed concoction in the world of glass, go to Duesseldorf, Germany for the biennial trade fare.

Chinese glass? Are we wary? Of course. We’re not paranoid without good cause. But we aren’t alone.

A year ago we visited the Dutch booth at Glasstec that was showing this new fusible Chinese glass – amidst a lot of images of works by a Famous European Glass Artist who was present in the booth, a celebrity figure who had supposedly tested the glass and was satisfied with it. A “friend” for decades (I know, friendship in the commercial world is sometimes barely decipherable) he hastened to point out to us that none of the objects in his most recent book (also being touted in the booth) were made with the Chinese glass. With one exception, all the colored works were Bullseye, a material he’d used for over 20 years.

So why hadn’t he used this new wonderful cheap glass in his own work?

“Why would I take the RISK?” He looked at Dan and me like we were crazy to even ask the question.

Are we naïve? Aren’t we afraid of China? Of course we are, but for reasons that are lots bigger than cheap glass. Paul T. raised some of them in his typically astute set of questions in the WG thread. Lauri L. countered with others that are equally valid.

There are more than enough red flags to go around. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this one.

FLAGSFLAGSFLAGS

5 Responses to Paper Tigers with Fusible Teeth?

  1. I guess for me it boils down to two things: compatibility and support.

    I’ll believe the compatibly when I see the published techniques and specs. Let’s talk about support.

    It’s sort of like my software. Any reasonably trained monkey can create software for printing a quiz or a test. But if you want that software to get up on it’s tippy-toes and do tricks for you, you had best come to a place like mine that will give you support. Bullseye glass is like that. If I want to talk to someone about making my glass do Neat Stuff Bullseye is there for me to talk to. My almost-brother-in-law is running the family hardware store that’s been in the family since 1906. For 10 years he’s still there in his tiny town even though there’s a WalMart in town. The reason? Support. I don’t think a Chinese glass supplier is going to be willing to go the extra mile with customers. Bullseye knows it’s customer base… the Chinese don’t.

    I can see the “hobby” fuser using this stuff. I don’t think the pro’s are going to touch it.

    Gary

  2. lmcgregor says:

    You nailed it, Gary.

    Meanwhile, someone just PM’d me slagging distributors who use their customers as guinea pigs* with unproven products.

    I wish he’d had the nerve to post his opinions online, but not everyone in cyberspace is as willing to run off at the mouth in public as you and me, Dear! (well, OK, there’s Mikey over at FIG …http://fantasyinglass.blogspot.com)

    *EDIT: Ooops, the actual term was “lab rat”. Sorry, I think one should be accurate even when quoting the anonymous.

  3. Oh, great, thanks. Now you’ve given me another blog to read. What a pal…

  4. The truth will out! These “cheaper” glasses are true examples of a false economy. We have just tested some dichroic coatings on one of these so-called “cheap” (although it was actually more expensive than our far superior product!(British sarcastic humour there)glasses and the results showed that the product is VERY inferior both in terms of the finish and its compatibility!
    I guess there will always be some people who fall for the hype and think they can grab a bargain; in my humble opinion, I think plenty will try this new glass – how many of them go back to buy it again will be the real test but I don’t think you should spend any nights losing sleep over it Lani!

  5. I rebuilt the master closet of my first home with all kinds of fancy shelves and such…my very first remodeling project. To save money, I used particle board instead of the recommended birch plywood. Routed out dadoes for shelves, saved money by using nails instead of screws…it was gorgeous.

    Two weeks later we heard a big crash upstairs. The particle board closet had collapsed, taking most of my wardrobe with it (and incidentally the carpet and two walls). Cost roughly 3x the original cost of the materials to fix it.

    Valuable lesson in the idiocy of cutting corners with your materials. If a disaster comes out of my kilns, it won’t be because the glass screwed up…

    What worries me, though is not the experienced glassists, it’s the newcomers. If their first experiences with glass keep failing, will they stop trying? Will we lose potentially good artists? Reduce marketshare because frustrated crafters “can’t control the glass?”

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