Glass: One Small Voice in a Vast Industry

Forward: The following is a copy of Glass Industry news we should all be made aware of. Glass artists around the globe are making efforts to ensure the continuation of an ancient art form, but this news has us trembling in our boots and we need your help! I know this is long, but please read its entirety to understand the full magnitude of the situation. This article does not, however, address the impact this has in other countries, who also get their raw glass from these US companies. Let’s take a stand to keep these businesses American made!
Please stay tuned at the end of this public address to learn how this will affect You and Thistle Glass while we are in the middle of the biggest Studio Art Glass movement in recorded history.

No doubt, many of you have heard. The Governor has SUSPENDED production at Bullseye for 10 days. The No Days Company sent out a great email this morning asking for everyone’s help.
Please see the e-mail below.

There are a handful of glass manufacturers in the US who are being forced to introduce expensive equipment into their manufacturing process without a clear and reasonable timeline for implementing these procedures. If you would like to contact your Representatives in Washington to let them know that the glass art industry is a precious part of the US economy that we don’t want to see disappear due to unreasonable regulations, a sample letter is below. Feel free to change it up. If you’d like to learn more about the situation, there is a group on Facebook dedicated to Glass Artists for Air Quality.

To find your Senator:
To find your Representative:

Dear Senator or Representative,

This week Spectrum Glass in Washington announced that after 40 years of producing colored art glass they will be closing their doors in July. They are the main American manufacturer of many types of colored art glass. This affects an estimated 30,000 Stained Glass, Fused Glass and Glass Blowing Artists, Stores, Art Studios and Hobbyists across America. Fortunately, arrangements have been made for Uroboros Glass in Oregon State to take over production of some of their Art Glass Product line. But there is still a huge problem threatening the American Art Glass Community.

The entire U.S. art glass industry is now being evaluated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with respect to potential new regulations. Spectrum is the first to announce its closure, but other glass producing companies are also evaluating their options. Uroboros Glass has suspended production of two-thirds of their glass while EPA re-evaluates their standards. Long-standing interpretations of air quality regulations are being reevaluated, and if new regulations are applied to our industry, it would require substantial capital expenses. Spectrum Glass Company has operated well within existing environmental guidelines and has been the only stained glass manufacturer to employ baghouse technology on furnace exhaust. Still, they have already accrued extraordinary, unanticipated expenses since the start of the EPA evaluation and cannot withstand additional investments of an unknown scale. These business collapses will have a ripple effect across the country.

What you need to know:
The stained and colored glass industry is a small, but home grown American manufacturing phenomenon. It’s unique in the world, provides steady manufacturing jobs for American workers, and is an exporting industry as well.
This industry of just six manufacturers is facing $2.5-3.5 million of capital investment due to regulatory changes with no advance warning. This investment may prove too much for several of them to bear.
Government intervention is needed for them to meet the goals of the new regulations in such a short time frame.
The industry is willing to meet new regulations, but it needs reasonable time to do so.
The manufacturers are all owned by single individuals and their families, who work daily at their plants. They don’t have the resources of publicly traded corporations to simply pay up and move on.
These manufacturers supply thousands of other businesses and craftsmen who depend on their unique glass styles to complete their work. They are now at risk of being put out of work themselves.
The very suppliers who have created the iconic glass of the American stained glass legacy are at risk due to this situation.
There is currently no actual verification that the glass industry is connected to the detected toxins. EPA did moss testing, a new science, which raised public concern. They retested and found the levels to be safe. The current EPA review and imposed freeze of production is all based in fear not fact.
I want to protect the environment, but I do not want to crush an American Art Industry on assumed causation.

Please do whatever you can to prevent the loss of small businesses, jobs and an entire art form. The American Art Glass community needs your help.

Your Name

U.S. Senate: Senators of the 114th Congress

After Words: What this means for you and Thistle Glass –

Inevitable price increases on raw glass means that if you ever wanted to buy my glass, or anyone else’s, now is the time. As of this writing, the EPA has demanded that all manufacturing of the colors red, orange and yellow cease and desist until reformulated, or until further notice. With the impending closure of Spectrum Glass, some glass styles may no longer be available. I will credit Spectrum Glass whenever I use their glass in my future work so you know exactly how valuable your glass is.
If you currently own stained glass pieces made by me, feel free to send me a photo and I will identify the glass for you.
At Thistle Glass, I have always focused on the food safety of my work. I encase my glass color with clear, even though there was no need to do so. The glass itself is non-toxic, and it is only suspected that the manufacturing process (used to make the raw glass I create with) needs further filtration of heavy metals.
I am proud to say I have spent 25 years in the art glass industry, and I have had the privilege of creating my glass using raw glass from all six manufacturers who are now at risk.
Glass means something different to every artist, but to me, it is a quiet journey with styles and designs coming to me in my dreams. Glass has never been about monetary gain for me. It is how I express myself – my inner journey reflected outward. I wish to continue exploring this medium for the rest of my days, and with your help, this is possible. I have always said, “Without you, I could not be me.” This is truer now more than ever before!

If you have ever wanted to support the continuation of an ancient art form… click the links provided above to make a difference in the American Art Glass Movement. If you want to make the biggest impact possible and don’t know where to start, focus on sending the above info to Senators, Governors and Representatives for Oregon, Washington and Indiana.
I am ever grateful for your support, and in this case especially…. for your time, and your voice! I will keep you posted right here with updates as they become available.

“There is a certain peacefulness I experience while creating glass. I am sure this positive energy lives within each finished piece.” ~ Michelle Copeland

About Michelle

Michelle Copeland has been practicing Glass Art since 1991 in the following disciplines: - Stained Glass - Lampworking - Fusion and Slumping - Hand-Painted - Sandblasting - Blown Glass. Largely self-taught, Michelle's unusual approach to glass is exhibited in her art, capturing elegance, energy and playful color in her work. Each piece is individually created by the artist herself - her unique approach to glass adds interest, prestige and value. Line, form, color and movement are key ingredients that combine to articulate Copeland's distinctive style.


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