Monday, November 28, 2011

Speaking of Glass

FaceBook is a valuable tool that many of us use to stay connected with each other and the establishments we patronize. Businesses and their customers now have a social forum to interact and exchange information and ideas. As the GlassDharma community grows on FaceBook, it is apparent that GlassDharma customers want more than a product that helps to save our planet from excessive waste. The world becomes a little smaller as we can easily converse with other Facebook users and answer questions as they are asked.

Recently, a discussion was initiated by “Angie”. She was curious about where our glass comes from. Not just the location of the supplier we use, but where exactly our materials were manufactured. She explained that she has some concerns about buying serve-ware and drink-ware that was made from materials that originated in China. She had read about colored glass tubing coming from Asian markets and wanted to be sure of the origin of the products she was contemplating purchasing.

It is important to note that once upon a time, during the beginning of GlassDharma’s existence, colored glass straws were offered as part of the product line. They were made of the same colored tubing that Angie spoke of. It was soon decided by GlassDharma management that the quality and availability was too inconsistent for quality control purposes. Some of the colored tubing shipments had come into the loading docks at GlassDharma only to be returned due to surface scratching imperfections.

clear glass tubing
Some of the tubing that was received was out of round, they were actually oval shaped. Also, a full palette of color was brought into stock in several sizes that were needed only to discover that a certain color in a particular size would be unavailable for months at a time. They also discovered that what was called “heavy-wall tubing” was actually a medium wall thickness as compared to other brands on the market.

Moreover, the biggest concern was not being able to verify that the glass was being manufactured under ethical working conditions. Needless to say, these were unsatisfactory standards for GlassDharma, so the line was eliminated.

Angie’s FaceBook questions made their way to GlassDharma Owner/Founder, David Leonhardt who expanded on the fact of where GlassDharma glass materials originate. David explains, “There is not any borosilicate tubing manufactured in the USA. Simax is made in the Czech Republic. Pyrex is made in Japan. Schott is made in Germany, etc.” With a sigh in his voice, he declares, “yes, we have done a good job of sending work outside of the USA.”

Angie was particularly interested in the origin of the colored glass used to create the “Decorative Dots” that are fused to the outside of the straw. The “Decorative Dots” line is a signature line of GlassDharma straws.

David continues his explanation, “Colored tubing is made exclusively in China. Colored borosilicate (solid rod) is made by about 6 or 7 companies located in the USA, Australia and Canada as well as several other countries, including China. For GlassDharma Decorative Dots, we select the colors according to the color palette needed by our design. Each company that makes colored borosilicate rod makes anywhere from 12 to 120 colors and there is very little overlap, so our options are severely limited.”
Quality Control at GlassDharma

“GlassDharma recognizes that trade with China is the wave of the future, but it is also part of the present – just look at how much of the computer you are reading this on comes from China. However, until we can verify the working conditions there, we are choosing to eliminate our use of glass from China.

Angie thanks David for the information but is still leery of buying beverage-ware with the possibility of Chinese manufactured glass as a part of it's design. (Update by Editor: GlassDharma used China made glass for the Amber Decorative Dots design during the time Angie was questioning the materials used for GlassDharma straws.  Recently, a suitable replacement was discovered that is not China made. April 14, 2012)

She lets GlassDharma know this through the comment thread, “I really don't like to use anything from China that I will be eating off of or drinking out of, but would have loved to get your straws to reuse.”

Angie is urged to look into the ‘Beautiful Bends’ or the ‘Simple Elegance’ styles that require no use of colored glass in their making. The discussion continues and Angie asks, “Which country does your clear glass come from?”

GlassDharma buys clear borosilicate tubing from a supplier in California, the brand of tubing GlassDharma has been using until recently is Simax® from the Czech Republic. They have now switched over to Schott® which comes from Germany.

Angie concluded the discussion thread with the fact that she had decided to ordered her GlassDharma Straws!
"Decorative Dots" made with clear Glass

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Friends of Glass

When David was a young boy, he remembers his mother putting away leftovers in a serving bowl. If there was not a matching lid, a dinner-plate was used to cover the food contained while stored in the refrigerator. It was a time when the milkman left milk on the porch in thick glass bottles and condiments, foods and beverages were packaged in glass. If you were thirsty, you had a “glass” of water. Even small children learned to drink from glassware, there were no sippy cups.

As the years rolled by, David Leonhardt began to pursue his interest in lampworking glass. His hobby soon became his profession and his passion. The beauty of the glass caught his attention at a time when glass products were quickly being replaced with more and more plastic. After 10 years, he changed careers to business accounting only to find, seven years later, that a purposeful change of location led him right back to his craft as a lampworker.

“I started doing some work for a local glass shop in town and noticed that the owner had glass drinking straws for sale,” states David in his website. “I had never heard of these before and I am always intrigued by something made out of glass that I hadn’t thought of. I was struck by the unique elegance in such a simple item.”

“I immediately recognized that here was a partial solution to our “plastics problem”. So, I created the GlassDharma line of glass drinking straws and the GlassDharma website to contribute one solution to the overabundance of single use plastics in our society.”

The quest to formulate the most durable glass products possible led David straight to the technical support staff at Corning, Inc. where he found answers, backed by science, to the “art” of the annealing process.

Baffled by the variety of answers he had received from other lampworkers about the annealing process, David implemented what he learned from Corning, Inc. and subsequently developed an annealing process, “which has been one of the cornerstones of our Company’s success”. Simply by focusing on durability.

Did you know GlassDharma Straws are guaranteed for life against breakage?! Also the taste of drinking though glass straws versus reusable straws made from other materials has been a big convincing factor to those who have tried GlassDharma glass straws for the first time. They are easy to clean, suitable for hot and cold beverages, and have a smooth feel to your lips thanks to their fire-polished finish.

David Leonhardt and Gail Johnson, owners of GlassDharma since 2007 are committed to the environmental mission behind the manufacturing and sales of their products. Each time someone chooses to reuse their glass straw, one more single-use plastic straw is not made. As one takes a baby step by applying this idea to one small, ordinary item, it ignites the spiraling thought process… and the idea of choosing to re-use takes on an application to bigger things.

Note for the Editor of "Blog in a Bottle":
 "David and his wife, Gail are also ambassadors of Friends of Glass who help us spread the positive word. We couldn’t be any prouder."