Of all the artistry on Earth, there are few crafts as unique and mysterious as glass blowing. Jeremy Friedly, of “Glass for Your Mom” in Lancaster, PA filled me in on his business and the 1200-year history of the craft.
Jeremy, now dedicated to his art and new retail outlet (#Glassforyourmom), began creating when he was in community college. He hadn’t been the most disciplined high school student, so he took a glass art class to get him into the habit of going to school. Jeremy eventually grew very passionate about the technicality of soft glassblowing. He was attracted to how much discipline the craft gave him. Jeremy went on to intern for a highly successful glassblower, and eventually started his own business. He likes to focus on clean colors and forms, and simplistic styles when it comes to his art and sculptures.
How did glassblowing come about?
Jeremy informed me that, around 900 years ago, the Phoenicians introduced glassblowing to Italy. This paved the way for a huge market for sculptures, bottles, vases, and more. Eventually, instead of being handcrafted by a glassmaker, manufacturers started utilizing machines and factories to mass-produce glass products. Companies sold their drinks in glass bottles and glass art grew in popularity among stores and markets.
However, because of this growth in popularity, big corporations now utilize overseas sweatshops and unsustainable business practices to mass-produce glass as quickly and as inexpensively as possible. Chances are, when you go to a chain store and buy a vase, it wasn’t produced by an artist… It was produced by a machine and/or a sweatshop laborer in China or India.
What’s wrong with factory production?
Many see mass-produced glass as fraudulent, and most of us would probably agree. Calling unsustainably manufactured glass products “art” is a bit of a stretch. Often, though, it’s hard for consumers to decipher between handmade, sustainable glass and products made from machinery and/or unethical labor practices. Because of similar designs and styles, it’s important to make sure you’re not buying from a sweatshop.
Because of overseas factory production, local craftsmen and artists are struggling to keep up. It’s important that consumers are aware of the history behind what they’re buying. Buying locally benefits the community, the artist, and the craft.
We’d like to thank Jeremy Friedly for sharing his story and explaining the need for consumers to buy locally. To learn more about Jeremy and #GlassForYourMom, follow him on Instagram. Visit our blog to read more local business interviews!