Message from the President September 2004

Pushing the Envelope in Carnival Glass

By Brian Pitman, September 2004

Our convention this year was great in many ways. It was great because of the people who worked day and night before and during the convention to guarantee you would have a good time, good food, and a bunch of carnival glass to see, feel and buy. It was great because of the people who brought their glass for your viewing pleasure. It was great because of the stories shared during the convention, either through seminars or in a room late at night with friends. It was great because we had a very good attendance, and we had a beautiful auction. It was great because we were able to walk down the hallway and see each other in the rooms. It was great because of the room displays and the time that so many people put into making their displays look so wonderful. Finally it was great because it was the annual meeting of our Association, a group with a long and important history (as you saw during the banquet presentation), a group with many honorable and caring people, and a group with a very bright future in front of it.

I do want to take a moment to thank some people who gave absolutely everything to make this convention so special. First on that list are three groups of people who did something different this year because I asked them to do so. The idea of the breakfast seminars was something new and stood a good chance of failing. I suspected there were people up at 8:00 in the morning during the conventions, and I figured that if you gave them a good little seminar, they would come. It turned out that quite a few people did come, and they weren’t disappointed. John and Loretta Nielsen premiered this crazy new idea with a quiz, and they did a fabulous job. Harold “George” Cox brought some very fun pieces and some very fun stories. I have heard Harold’s stories (and his lovely harmonica playing) in the rooms before, but his stories and glass made for a standing room only breakfast seminar. Finally, Bud and Gladys Martin concluded the convention’s breakfast sessions with a spectacular seminar on pieces they had found in Australia. Those pieces, though American in origin, traveled across a wide ocean to end up on our seminar table, and I can promise you that any of the dozens of people at the seminar would love to have any one of them in their collection. These three seminars were fabulous, and these guys were all wonderful to do it!

I also need to thank our great seminar speakers. Reg and Linda Dunham put together a thought-provoking seminar on what glass they would keep if they needed to sell most of their collection, something that many have had to face in the recent years. On top of putting a lot of thought and effort into this project, they did it at a time when they were remodeling their home, which is the single most hectic time to try and go through your glass and put together a seminar. I also want to thank Janet Knechtel for doing a truly tremendous job during her international carnival glass seminar. Janet’s effort is multiplied because she also spent a lot of time coordinating the display room on the same topic (along with Diane Beitz, who also deserves our gratitude). When Janet unveiled the stupendous Rising Sun set brought by Jorge and Jorge (“George and George” as Janet calls them), the look on her face was worth the price of admission. Our prayers need to be with Janet and others who suffered serious damage to their homes during hurricane Charley earlier last month.

I also want to thank Ann McMorris for her energy in the hospitality room, all of the Board and Officers for their work in running the convention and attending three Board meetings during the convention, Bart Dooley and Dick Hostetler for once again making this year’s silent auction a success, Barb Chamberlain for making the “Paint Your Whimsey” event so special, Jim and Jan Seeck for bringing us a truly beautiful collection to auction, and all of you for attending, bringing glass for the display room and room displays, for bringing food and time to the hospitality room, and for just being remarkable members of ICGA.

Next year, our annual party will be moving back to Indianapolis and to a new facility for us, one that will be more convenient and should raise the bar on the quality of hotel we use. The Radisson Indianapolis Airport is a great hotel, and it has the added benefit of being on airport property. This should make it much easier for our members who have to fly to the convention to make it next year, and the free airport shuttle is definitely a plus. The room rate is $95 per night, and their meeting space is super nice and accommodating. Look for the entire schedule of events to be in the December issue of the Town Pump, as well as registration and reservation information. Mark your calendars now for July 12-16, 2005. We are also in the process of searching for our 2006 hotel, and that information should be announced in the December Pump as well.

In this newsletter, you will find a separate form for you to fill out and send back in. This survey will let us know what you liked and didn’t like during this year’s convention so that we can fine tune the program for next year. Additionally, it will give us some idea of what is important to you during our annual convention, and if there are parts we should drop and replace with something else. This convention is for your benefit, so please send in the form for us. I also want to take this time to thank those that responded to my request in the last Pump and sent me some feedback in general about the club.

Okay, now let’s get to what the title of this President’s Report is about: pushing the envelope. Over the past five to ten years, our hobby has been turned on its ear. The presence of the Internet and eBay has quite literally changed everything. Before the Internet started becoming so dominant a little less than a decade ago, carnival glass wasn’t the easiest thing to come by. People had subscriptions to the Antique Trader, clubs that had glass for sale listings in their newsletters were coveted, and both conventions and auctions had great attendance because room sales and the auction at the end provided a precious chance to add to your collection. These days, all you have to do is logon and spend less than an hour to find “that special piece you have been looking for forever.” On top of that, tons of rarities have surfaced through eBay that might never have been found otherwise.

It has affected everything, even antique malls and shops. How many times have you gone into an antique mall and found a piece you wanted to buy, but the sticker said “Bid on this piece on eBay?” Some of the affects are pretty evident: the Antique Trader doesn’t really exist anymore, for sale listings in club newsletters don’t provoke nearly the response as before, and conventions aren’t as well attended as before. On top of that, an entire new generation of carnival glass collector is out there buying and selling, and a whopping majority of them have never joined a club once (and some of them don’t even realize there are clubs out there). This generation stands a good chance of becoming a “lost” generation of carnival glass collector, and the casualties if this happens would be our very own clubs.

There are a lot of ideas out there on how to reverse this trend. I have chucked a few of them out here in this newsletter in the past year. Before you implement an idea, though, you need to have one thing: club loyalty. Lots of people out there belong to five, even ten clubs. They are starting to downsize the number of clubs they belong to, as well as to which conventions they attend. Why should they choose ICGA over other clubs? That’s the answer we need to be looking for. Let’s work together, loyal to this club, to make sure that when everything shakes out, ICGA is bigger and stronger than before. Let’s push the envelope together, both in the way we get new members, and the way we keep members in our club. I have a lot of ideas, and I think you do too. Let’s talk and find the answers together.

Brian Pitman