Message from the President March 2005

Oh Yeah in ’05 and ’06

By Brian Pitman, March 2005

ICGA is gearing up for our convention this year in Indianapolis, but we have already been thinking and working ahead to make 2006’s convention happen nice and smoothly as well. I am pleased to announce to you the location and dates for the 2006 ICGA Annual Convention. We will be traveling to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to the Cedar Rapids Marriott Hotel on July 18-22, 2006. More information about that convention will be given out as we continue our planning for that event.

Meanwhile, Indianapolis is shaping up to be another fine addition to the wonderful memories this club provides for its members. We have a Red Display Room and Seminar that is going to make you think you stepped into Hoosier Heaven. Tom Mordini and Richard Cinclair are teaming up to make this event a true EVENT that people will be talking about for years to come. Red is one of those colors that seems to fall in and out of favor with people on a cyclical basis, and there are definite signs that it is starting to be “in” again. If you have a piece of red hidden back in your closet, please give Tom a call so that he can put together the perfect display room. Believe me, you will be “seeing red” at this convention.

We are also doing our breakfast seminars again this year. Early risers are always the first ones out to find the good glass at estate sales, when the malls open up, and even in places you would find in your “back yard,” and they will continue to be rewarded with wonderful displays and stories by attending our breakfast seminars. Our three breakfast seminar speakers this year are Harry Meads, Carl Booker, and Geneva Crosby. This year’s speakers were provided to us by the Hoosier Carnival Glass Club, one of the oldest in carnival, and a very cool organization in that it is probably the tightest knit one ever.

We also have a seminar and a banquet seminar planned, but I am not going to tell you what they are yet. Why? Well, I believe that you should just come and see them for yourself. Consider this the new trend in marketing carnival glass conventions: you have to be there to experience it for yourself. No newsletter, email, or even pictures on a website can convey to you what you get by attending a convention. Even to try is a disservice to you because you get a sense of not having missed much (nothing seems very special when you read about it).

I have written here many times about the need to get new people into glass. One of the oxymoron’s of carnival glass is that the new people tend to be do-it-yourselfers, and so they don’t see the value of conventions. However, just ask any younger person who has been to one what they think, and nearly all of them will tell you that they will be attending again (and again). They “see” what we are talking about once they are actually there. The biggest barrier to that is getting them there in the first place. The only ones who can do that are all of you.

I want to remind you of my article last issue, in which I challenged all of you to become stars, doing educational programs and seminars, as well as writing articles and such. Since that article, neither Carl Booker nor I have heard from an overwhelming number of members suddenly wanting to contribute. We need these contributions to make carnival glass clubs a viable option in the future. Personally, I feel that the biggest reason why “club consolidation” has become a big topic of discussion in the past few years is because there is a small number of educational contributors to the clubs, and they are tired of being hammered by nearly 30 clubs for information, articles, seminars, and help.

This flies in the face of so many clubs being born out of regionalism. Everyone, it seems, wants to have a club in his state. This usually starts off as a social club, which is a good thing. People would meet monthly or bi-monthly, usually at someone’s home, and they would show off their glass. Those types of clubs are very cool. Then, however, someone says “Let’s have our own convention, and our own auction.” In the end, you have 30 conventions and 30 convention auctions, which cause problems. The first problem is that inevitably the same people who speak at 4 conventions a year start speaking at 5 (because no one else wants to speak in front of a crowd).

The second problem is that auctioneers end up going to war against each other to find a collection to sell that usually leaves all attendees hypercritical of the glass. That leaves clubs trying to find an auctioneer that will bring them “better glass” and a lot of hard feelings.

The third problem is one we have yet to get to, but it is coming: clubs folding. All over the country, carnival glass clubs and conventions are seeing lower and lower attendance. There are a few that are bucking the trend, but the reason for it is a pretty simple one: the people who are doing all the seminars and exciting things in carnival glass are the officers of those few exceptions to the rules. They have the fire and the excitement, and if you want to feel it too, you may just have to go to one of those conventions. Oh, and those conventions are the ones that are getting the “good glass” that is in so much demand.

Eventually, there will be a system of the haves and the have-nots. The haves will have great attendance, great glass, and great conventions. The have-nots will fold. Period. So where does ICGA fit in all of this? We are one of the most storied clubs, one with a tremendous history and tradition. All of that (the past, the stories, the people) means absolutely nothing if we don’t have a fire burning. ICGA will fold as a carnival glass club if we don’t have conventions packed with super seminars, super auctions, and super people. ICGA will fold if its newsletter has no content of any value to people. ICGA will fold if it doesn’t have members willing to contribute, even past the point of comfort. It may be scary to get in front of a crowd of 200 people and talk about your glass, but think how scary it will be if an organization that has been around for 40 years disappears in the night.

There are a bunch of carnival glass collectors out there who don’t even know we exist. There are collectors out there who know we exist, but don’t see any value in anything we do. There are collectors out there who can’t tell the difference between ICGA and other carnival associations. It is our job to stand apart from the others, to grow into something we have never been before. It is up to us to be the people who decide whether carnival glass collecting in the future includes associations or a bunch of anonymous bidders on an internet auction site.

Last year, I had the pleasure of standing with some of the greatest carnival people I have ever known (who also happen to be some of the best people I have ever known) including Reg Dunham, Carl Booker, Tom Mordini, Jim Seeck, and others to honor two of my favorite people I have ever met: Carl and Ferne Schroeder. These two have given so much to this club. They have contributed by giving seminars, by planning conventions, by talking to people and recruiting them to our club.

Don’t let their work, and the work of so many others, slip away into the past. We need more Carl and Ferne Schroeders who are willing to work furthering ICGA and carnival glass collecting in general. The time has come for us to just plain do more than the others, because the time of the “Great Carnival Glass Club Extinction” is almost upon us. Clubs will either return to their social monthly meeting roots, or they will die. Let’s not be one of them…

Brian Pitman