Message from the President December 2004

Do You Wanna Be a Star?

By Brian Pitman, December 2004

As we move into the final preparations for the upcoming 2005 ICGA Convention in Indianapolis, I find us facing the same situation that all convention planners in carnival glass have to deal with on an annual basis: who will be our convention speakers? I believe this yearly predicament is the same faced by carnival glass newsletter editors on a much more frequent basis. I know that Carl Booker, our esteemed and underpaid editor of the Pump, literally has to rub a genie’s lamp every three months to generate enough articles for the newsletter. That the Pump has a great amount of educational articles each issue is a testament not only to the generosity and knowledge of our members, but also to the huge amount of dedication and effort put in by Carl to make sure we don’t send out a glorified leaflet with barely any information in it at all (something we have seen from time to time in the carnival glass world).

So why is it so hard to find people willing to share their knowledge, either through pen and paper or through a seminar at a convention? This is an ongoing conversation I have had with many people in the past six months, but most notably with ICGA member Larry Keig (that’s Dr. Larry Keig to his friends). Larry is a tough one, but I feel he represents a great number of carnival collectors and potential association members. He explained that the absolute first thing he looks for in a carnival glass association membership is substantive newsletters. While he appreciates the efforts of all clubs to put together a newsletter, the hook that draws him into joining and remaining a member of an association is a good amount of educational information in each publication. If a newsletter is filled with remembrances and advertisements for various items (upcoming conventions, books or pieces for sale, price guides and such), it isn’t enough for him to want to stay around.

What do you think? Does this describe you? I certainly feel like it would describe a tremendous amount of younger collectors, the people we need to be recruiting into the club system so that carnival glass associations don’t disappear into the great sea of eBay bidding and do-it-yourself approaches advocated by many carnival books out there. I don’t think many younger collectors today would join an association to hear how great things “used to be” in the “good old days.” Instead, they want information, knowledge to help build their education. Most young people have an eye on the value of the glass, and education is the hook that will bring them in. The warm friendliness of our members, so helpful and kind, will keep them.

This philosophy is also good for a convention. People need a reason to attend (as if just seeing the glass and the people weren’t enough). Larry asked why conventions don’t have so much more (seminars, fun events, etc.). Last year, we increased the number of events at the ICGA convention, which resulted in a lot more to do. We had breakfast seminars every morning (something we will repeat in Indianapolis), we had “Paint Your Whimsey” which provided a lot of fun and education at the same time. Ask anyone who tried to paint a whimsy if they have much more respect for the workers who do this for a living, and you will find a unanimous “yes.” We had a big seminar by Reg Dunham, and an even bigger display room/seminar tie-in (something we are repeating this year with a “knock-your-socks-off” display of red).

We also did something a little different during the banquet dinner by having a video to walk us backwards in time through the wonderful history of our club, one of the oldest carnival glass clubs in the world, with a rich tradition of pushing the envelope and making changes in the carnival world.

But this takes me back to the original question: Do you wanna be a star? Carnival glass really needs some new ones right now, and you have all the right stuff to be one. You need to know a little bit about carnival glass (something that you may just have more than you suspect). This can be shared knowledge, information you have picked up over the years. You just need to know something about something. You also have to be willing to share that information with others, whether it is in a written format, or more of a grand production in front of people.

Now usually, this is where we lose people. “Brian, I am too stupid to write anything that sounds intelligent” or “Brian, there is no way I am going to get up in front of others because I am waaaaaay too afraid.” Get over that. You have some pretty strong tools that you haven’t even discovered yet, and their names are Carl and Brian. Carl Booker, contrary to rumors running around in some parts of Indiana, is a certified literary genius. One of the reasons he shaves his head is so that his gigantuan (a new word created by Carl himself) brain has room to work. This guy can take even the most rudimentary chicken scrawls about something and turn it into a New York Times best seller of carnival glass. And even better, he WANTS to make you look good!

Carl is the easiest person to reach, so look on the back cover of the Pump and talk to him. The world would be a much better place if Carl had dozens of articles ready to go into the Pump for a year, and our members will benefit from the extra knowledge (not to mention your humble generosity).

The second tool is me. Giving a seminar or participating on a panel at a convention is much easier than you think. First of all, your audience wants to hear what you know. They want you to do well. Secondly, we need you, simple as that. Finally, you will be contributing to something greater than yourself, something that benefits many people, and your club, all at the same time. Giving presentations is something I have been doing for over 20 years (and folks, I just turned 35). I can help you put it together, help you present it without getting any nerves and show you the best ways to do it. All I need is for you to have the desire, have the knowledge, and have the want to share information with your fellow carnival collectors. It also helps if you have a general idea what you can talk about (and the best place to start is your own collection, which holds many secrets, stories, and information about the type of glass you collect and know about). Contact me to let me know you are interested, and we can start building something wonderful together. Just think how many seminars we can have “in the can” over the next couple of conventions if we start now. All we need is you.

Now, here are some things I need you to do right now. I need you to call in and make your reservations for the 2005 convention. It will be taking place July 13-16, 2005, at the Radisson Airport Hotel in Indianapolis. To make your reservations at our $95 room rate, call (317) 244-3361 and make sure you let them know you are with ICGA to get into our block. I wouldn’t suggest calling the toll-free (800) number to make your reservations, because I have found that with hotel chains, the left hand and the right hand don’t even know each other exist, let alone know what the other is doing, and I don’t want you to have any problems making your reservations. If you do have a problem, please call me right away and I can get it fixed.

I am still working on the 2006 convention, with several proposals still coming in from hotels that span from Iowa to Illinois. We are going to try and stay a little west with that convention, and I will most definitely be able to announce something in the March issue of the Pump. And remember, you will be able to find up-to-date information on our website at

In closing, let me say that you are already a star in the eyes of me, the Board of Directors, and your club officers. You are a member of ICGA, which makes you a special person to begin with. Now let’s work together to take it up to the next level.

Brian Pitman