Art and Environment


The one-word prompt over at The Daily Post today is “Glass.” How could I not write a post to that prompt?

I’ve been neglecting this blog for a while now, but it’s not for lack of topics to discuss. It’s more because I felt the need to research topics, and to sit down and do a thoroughly well-planned post that considers all sides of an issue.

But where’s the fun in that, right? So I’ll just write with a disclaimer that everything I say has the potential of being utterly false. I think I can work within those parameters.

There’s a lot of change going on in the art glass industry here in the Pacific Northwest, and I imagine it won’t be long until the issues spread nationwide, if they haven’t already.

In some random study of moss or lichen or something (as I said, I forewent the research on this), it came to light that parts of Portland were showing very high lead content in the environments. Further study seemed to pinpoint the source of these pollutants as being two art glass manufacturing sites, who use heavy metals to create the glass.

Chromium, for example, is used in production of glass in colors of green, black, and some browns and purples. Cadmium is used for making yellows, oranges, and orange-reds. Both factories ultimately stopped production of those colors of glass while further testing is conducted to determine the actual sources of pollutants, and while installation of new emission control measures take place.

The divergent responses of the two glass manufacturers — Bullseye and Uroboros —  remind me of two cartoon characters in the children’s magazine Highlights: Goofus and Gallant. Goofus is always rude, thoughtless, uncouth, greedy… Gallant is always thoughtful, considerate of others, polite… well, you get the idea.

So, in my metaphor, Bullseye is Goofus and Uroboros is Gallant. This is the part where lack of research could get me into trouble, so I’ll leave my discussion of the two companies at that.

Another Pacific Northwest glass manufacturer, Spectrum, has gone out of business as of this month. A smaller company than the other two, Spectrum made the determination that — along with other issues — they couldn’t absorb the cost of retooling for emissions control. Spectrum had been in business for thirty years.

While I lament the changes that might curtail the manufacture of many colors of glass, I of course acknowledge the utmost importance of environmental safety. (Hint: Gallant cares about that, too.)

But think about telling Vincent Van Gogh that he couldn’t use yellow in his paintings anymore. “Starry Night” would have become just “Night.” And his Wheatfield and Sunflower paintings? I can’t imagine.

The art glass- and glass art- worlds may never be the same. I’m sure someone will come up with other ways to recreate the colors with less environmentally impactful materials, but it won’t be the same. Or they’ll come up with ways to meet increasingly stringent environmental standards, at which point the cost of manufacturing art glass will skyrocket to the point where the glass will become unaffordable to hobbyists and nonprofessionals.

Okay, I’ve thoroughly bummed myself out now. I guess there’s no use in crying over spilled – um, cadmium. The good news is that my premonitions about the future are usually totally off base. Especially when I haven’t done my research.

I’m guessing that Gallant always does his research.

The Daily Post one-word prompt: Glass

About Maggie C

Stained glass artist, writer, respecter of life.
This entry was posted in Colors of Glass, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s