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The Future of Borosilicate 2010
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The future of Borosilicate

I have just begun my eleventh year in flameworking. It really got me thinking about how far this industry and I have come. I started in a shop where they didn’t even have hose clamps connecting the torches to the tanks. This was a time when the color options were cobalt that usually grayed, ruby that always livered, carmel that became tan-blah, and jade that always cracked.

Fast forward to 2009 — Recent advancements in flameworking have given us new materials that will undoubtedly inspire some amazing new work. These materials are only one of many factors that will shift the dynamics of the industry in the coming year and beyond. This article discusses the top three factors that will most likely create the largest changes in flameworking in 2010.

1. The Chinese tubing and rod have fundamentally changed the flameworking community world-wide. The availability of these materials have caused each manufacturer, artist, distributor/wholesaler, and retailer to re-evaluate their position in the industry. The significant price difference between the Chinese tubing and the other tubing manufacturers like Simax, Schott, Pyrex, and Kimble have brought about more competition, and better selection for the artist.

The Chinese full colored tubing has made possible projects that were impossible a few years ago. An example is the CBS dichroic coated tubing currently being marketed by TorchLife. The Chinese tubing has impacted the U.S. market for the better part of the decade. We now have access to full-colored tubing in various sizes and colors, and ground joints have become economical. The new uber-ground joints, and pre-fab tree perks coming out of China will undoubtedly effect smoke-ware trends in 2010. We can expect more changeS as Chinese imports continue to rise.

2. The U.S. color manufacturers have had to up the ante in order to stay in the market. Northstar Glassworks wowed the crowd and created history at the Degenerate Flame Off in May, 2009, as they pulled Amber/Purple tubing from the pot — live. Abe from Norhtstar has been encouraging others to pull their own tubing and is selling the necessary equipment — backed with his tech support. I believe this advancement will allow flameworking to grow exponentially in the coming decade. Northstar is producing Blue moon, Amber purple, and opaque aqua full colored tubing consistently. They have also produced experimental runs of Mystery Adventurine, Lava, Star White, Deppe Darkness, Jet Black.

Glass Alchemy’s Tailor Made Tubing has made it possible to customize the color combination that you want in your striped tubing. They are currently offering 26mm, 40mm and 50mm fully striped tubing. These advancements give the artist more options than ever before and will continue to give incremental improvements that will help the industry as a whole. Another improvement that Alchemy has just released are “G-strings,” 10-piece tubes of pre-pulled stringers in all your favorite Alchemy colors. These new materials will make our work easier to accomplish, and should equate into more time to spend with family and friends.

3. There is one issue that stands above the rest and will undoubtedly impact the world as a whole; specifically, the smoke-ware sector of our industry. That issue is the potential legalization and decriminalization of marijuana for adults with in the U.S.

The main stream media are reverberating with what most adults in America have known for a long time: You can smoke pot and be a productive member of society, pays taxes, and do your share to build your community. There is a push to put an initiative on the California ballet in 2010 to tax and regulate marijuana on a state level. Oakland, California, recently became the first city in the U.S. to tax marijuana proceeds. Let’s be clear, I’m not talking about a party on every street corner, I’m referring to adult use in your own home or coffee shop-type environment.

This is maybe the most important issue that Americans will ever face. Legal adult use of marijuana in the U.S. will have far reaching positive implications in shaping our nations future.

America needs better energy policies based on renewable resources such as hemp. Hemp which doesn’t strip the soil could replace crops that do like soya, and corn.

We could stop spending money to imprison people, while balancing state and federal budgets.

The American diet is lacking essential vitamins and amino acids, of which hemp products can provide.

Marijuana can help minimize the use of prescription pharmaceuticals while lowering risks of negative effects on the body’s organs.

All of these factors will lessen the demand on the health care system. When these policies change there will be a major turn around in the U.S. that will equate in to long-term sustainability, rather than more debt.

Currently, with the state of the economy, most “hot shops” in the country have either cut back their production dramatically or closed altogether. In the world of boro we have felt the effects. Many smaller production shops are able to sustain production because of low overhead. A source from a major supply house said, “Artists in the smoke-ware sector are the ones spending money in these lean times.”

These materials, in conjunction with legalization, would create a golden age for the smoke-ware sector of our industry. This will most likely create a ton of new competition, trying to ride the wave. The good news is some of us have been blowing glass for 10 years or more and are poised for the upswing in the economy when it comes. The well established artists in the community who have been investing in tools and have been improving their skills are the ones who stand to benefit the most.

It is essential to recognize these opportunities when they present themselves. Doing so will allow us — individual artists, suppliers and wholesalers — to tackle larger issues such as industry-wide technical standard, training and health care.

TorchLife is working hard to provide a hub for the community to network. We want to be your partner in business and help flameworkers reach long-term goals. We need your help to improve the website, it is a tool for you to utilize in order to improve the industry, and make these ideas a reality.

I wish you all a profitable final quarter of the year.

.... Styles ***TORCHLIFE***

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