I expected to be blogging about Teaching Artists again today, but a recent kerfuffle over on a popular Internet glass forum caught my attention yesterday. Since it’s about one of Bullseye’s kids – aka products – I feel like I need to get all Mommy-like and charge into the playground to defend my brat.
The thread started out peacefully enough with one of Bob Leatherbarrow’s students lamenting the discontinuation of 0313 Dense White, one of our more than a dozen varieties of white glass. So who needs this much white in their life?
The infamous “ring around the collar” caused by the collision of lead, sulfur and heat in Bob Leatherbarrow’s “Pebble Boulder Roll-Up”.
Apparently Dense White (aka 0313) isn’t just any white. It’s a white that turns all grey and dirty where it butts up against another almost-white, our French Vanilla (aka 0137).
To be honest, that’s not the quality of the product that we’d paid a lot of attention to internally. And, like many of the more obscure properties possible with glass, it’s not one that the QC department would have originally tested for nor noticed.
Depending on which BE department you work in, you’d probably have been looking at:
1) crappy sales . “How can we justify making a glass that only sells ten sheets a month??” (That’s the imagined voice of Eric The Controller)
2) how it looks in the catalog. “Noooo, puleeeze, not another white that we’ve got to lay up on a white page!” (now I’m channeling the funereal wails of Mary Kay’s marketing team)
But – honest – we try to look at the users’ response to the product before our own. And when the glass first came out, we didn’t see a lot of love coming from outside either. The third post on the forum was pretty typical: “nasty”, “dead-looking”. (I’ve thought that about some of my friends’ kids too, Cynthia, but have always bitten my tongue)
Consensus? Fat chance. But the “I-miss-it-terribly’s” and “it’s-so-yummy’s” soon outnumbered the detractors by over 6-to-1.
I’ve always loved this tray by Barbara Muth. I’ve seen lots of stacked square designs in kiln-glass, but never one as elegant as this one.
Then the pictures started coming in on the bulletin board. And the international repercussions erupted. Up in Canada poor Bob L. claimed to be bunkered down in the woods with The Last Jar of 0313 frit, preaching frugality and encouraging the crossing of fingers. (So much for Bob’s reputation as a scientist)
(Before you start feeling bad for Bob, check out his bunker – among other cool stuff – on his website)
Another poster worried about poor Karl Harron in Northern Ireland. What would happen to Karl? He’s recently gotten into museum collections with pieces that relied heavily on this ugly little glass and its nasty reactive personality. Has anyone told Karl his career may be over?
Karl Harron’s stunning “Settlement Cairns #0908″ recently acquired for The Collection of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
Quit looking so smug, Karl. Haven’t you heard?
OK, all kidding aside, Karl could make wonderful work with something else (Bushmills?) if 0313 vanished forever. But maybe it won’t.
The Big Bullseye Bailout
Enough doom. To the Good News.
Much to the horror of our accounting and marketing teams, the production group has been working feverishly in recent months to reformulate Dense White 0313. A new – but still reliably reactive – Dense White is just weeks away from release.
Now we’re arguing about what to call it. I’m voting for Rosemary’s Baby. Or maybe Susan Boyle? On the other hand, there’s a certain ironic truth to the name DENSE White, since it points to one of the reasons why the glass was discontinued in the first place.
Yes, we already had plenty of other whites in the line.
Yes, sales were weak.
No, I was only kidding about marketing hating the way it looked on the page.
The Major Reason that 0313 was pulled off the market was because of User-Abuse. Yes, User as in You-sir (or madame), who have, after years of enduring my ranting about what TESTED COMPATIBLE means, continued to expect that a product would do something it never promised to do.
Users were putting 0313 into color bars and pot melts, taking it to 1600F, re-firing it multiple times and for long periods (our tests hold the glass at top temp for 15 minutes. After that, you need to test to your own needs if they exceed our standards).
No glass is compatible under any and all possible conditions. Even if it’s labeled “Tested Compatible”.
Contrary to a suggestion made on the bulletin board, 0313 was NOT discontinued because it was “incompatible”. Dense White was regularly tested and passed not only the routine factory compatibility testing but the triple-fire testing that is used to monitor glasses that are prone to shifting when subjected to multiple firings.
It’s Not My Kid’s Fault… or What Does Tested Compatible Mean?
I’ll spare everyone my rants on this topic. If you care about understanding what compatibility means (and what the COE doesn’t mean) – and you should – please click through to the following blog posts from 2007.
If you stumble off into other posts that pop up between those rants, I do apologize if you run into my dead cat. Eddie chose to pass over in the middle of my 2007 rant. We’re still convinced that he OD’d on COE. (And yes, he’s still in a box on the kitchen window ledge waiting to be mixed into a glass batch that will without doubt be waaaaaay more reactive and “nasty” than Dense White or I will ever be.)