Sunday, July 24, 2005

Sunday, July 17, 2005

It's a long story.......

So, what is new after all these months with no updates? Well, in case you had not heard, the makers of Glassmasters went out of business. Apparently the business suffered a serious blow back in 2002 when The Museum Company, the former owner and largest customer, became bankrupt. This was all fairly well known but what was not well known was that the business was losing money through 2003 and 2004 to the point where the owner, who was not active in the business, quite understandably drew a line and put the business into what is somewhat euphemistically called "friendly foreclosure".

The news of this situation began to break back in May but the situation was complicated and quite drawn out due to the continuance of limited production in order to use up work-in-progress and meet at least some customer needs before the facility was totally closed down.

Throughout this period a succession of potential buyers have investigated the possibility of acquiring the assets with a view to restarting the business. Having a tremendous admiration for the product line and believing it to have very significant undeveloped potential I became one of those potential buyers but sadly was unable to find the right financial partners within the limited time available. Even as I type at least one and possibly two attempts at purchasing these assets are underway.

Personally I hope that one of these succeeds because I do believe that these are very fine products. The feedback which I have had from the marketplace has been consistently positive and I strongly believe in the potential for growth. Also, from a practical business perspective, I would like to begin selling these products again.

The unexpected and unwelcome demise of Glassmasters and Stonemasters has forced us to accelerate plans to diversify across several complimentary product lines. Via Amazon and our Amazon-hosted site we have already launched a new line of stained glass which is made in the UK and we have identified a further 3 product lines which we believe fit with the "Museum Quality" brand which we have chosen for ourselves. One of these has already responded positively and we are hopeful that the others will follow. The new line of stained glass is quite different from Glassmasters in a number of respects. Firstly it is distinctly "English" in style and there are no opalescent items. Within the line the nearest to American glass are some reproductions of designs by Charles Rennie Mackintosh the Scottish architect and designer who was a contemporary of Frank Lloyd Wright. All of the pieces in the new line are hand-painted in the UK and this is said to make it easier to replicate colours but this is at the expense of colour-fastness because their process does not include the high-temperature firing which the Glassmasters one has. Whereas Glassmasters works will never fade the same is not true of these UK-made items. If you would like to see some of these then you should visit MQGifts where some have already been uploaded. We plan to add to these quite soon.

Going forwards we may decide to concentrate all sales, at least those of 3rd party products, on Amazon and MQGifts and simply use StainedGlassPhotography as the informational site it was originally created to be.

The loss of business resulting from the demise of Glassmasters has hurt and it is important that we replace it quickly. As an interim step we have even resorted to creating a few items on
CafePress in the hope of snagging some orders from the mass-market. Although we view the long-term with optimism the short-term is not without its problems and if you are even remotely tempted to buy something please do because every little will help.