January 21, 2007

The (rather limited) Stained Glass Blogworld

After 3+ years of doing this blog thing, it's time for a little reflection on the state of blogging in the stained glass world.

...or lack thereof. There are still not many blogs related to stained glass or stained glass design. Mind you, I'm not complaining. I'm just curious.

In thinking about this conundrum, the first thing I did was to look at other 'arts' and 'crafts' disciplines to see how they've taken to this blogging thing.

Among the 'crafting crowd', the knitters seem to be the front runners in doing blogs (i.e. this, this, this and this) There have even been academic studies done on the phenomena of knitting blogs. I've also heard it pointed out that knitters do the group and community thing well, as evidenced by pre-blog things like knitting circles. I know of one that meets every Saturday morning at my local coffee house, and I can see how that can smoothly translate into the online varient known as the blog.

In the 'visual arts' world, the most blogs would seem to be found among illustrators and graphic designers rather than fine artists like painters or sculptors. I've posted before on design blogs like Foreword and Design Observer and Typographica.
It makes sense seeing that illustrators and graphic designers these days must have some degree of computer and web knowledge to survive, whereas painters, sculptors and other 'gallery-type' artists do not.

On the whole, stained glass artists are still not a very computer or web savvy crowd. But that is changing. I don't get the "what's a blog?" question thrown back at me nearly as much as I did 3 years ago.

It also has to be said that stained glass artists don't generally do 'community' well. There are ongoing attempts to alleviate this, with email forums like the SG Network and various email groups on yahoo and google. There is also a new stained glass organization, the American Glass Guild, that is sincerely trying to be more open and inclusive in its membership policies, at least as compared to the still tightly wound, hierarchical and exclusively business-oriented Stained Glass Association of America. The SGAA now has an 'online forum' , but it's strictly members only. I'm not a member.

In all fairness, knitters don't have the nasty spectre of business matters and competition to think of as so few make a living from their craft. But graphic designers and illustrators definitely do make a living from their work. For illustrators and graphic designers, the blog is just an extension of their portfolio, and there is certainly a precedent for self-promotional and self-published 'journals' from graphic design companies. I'm thinking especially of the legendary Push Pin Graphic. I think stained glass studios could learn from that model. I certainly wish there could be an equivalent in the world of stained glass design. When will there be something like a good community blog for stained glass professionals, academics, patrons, amateurs and enthusiasts to all enjoy and learn from? Perhaps never, but I can always hope and imagine how nice it would be.

So, in brief, here is a list of the blogs that I know of that feature a good portion of posts related to stained glass. None have generated any real buzz in the blogging world or not very much buzz in the stained glass world.

I thought I'd put this first even though it's the new kid on the block, being around since just last year. By Justyn Zolli, a professional SG artist now out of San Francisco. This blog features many pictures from his own on-site visits. A very welcome new addition to the very small SG blogworld.

Stained Beauty
By a woman in England who has featured a great deal of stained glass in the past, not so much recently. She also posts photos to Flickr under the name of Tylluan, and those include a fair number of images of SG.

Light Made Solid
Peter Boucher's website journal - infrequent posts, but one of the few stained glass related blogs attempted by a professional studio.

Adventures in Dangerous Art
An amateur site, always a bit spotty in it's posting but back up and running after a lengthy hiatus. A nice light-hearted approach - this is the one that inspired me to start my own blog.

Okay, so it's safe to say that stained glass has not been the success story of the blogging revolution. So be it. I've enjoyed doing my SG blog and, as spotty as my posts have been, it's been a fascinating and informative ride for me. I intend to continue for as long as I can.

Posted by Tom at January 21, 2007 07:41 AM