Monday, February 9, 2009

Smacking Down Stupidity - Bead Wise

There's a fairly innocuous blog post on the Beading Daily website - "Five Reasons To Love Glass Beads."  Most of the reasons are pretty silly, and can be applied to any type of material:

1 - Glass Beads are Colorful.  Well so are stone beads.  And plastic beads.  Ceramic beads too.  Also polymer clay.  Wood beads are colorful when painted, and if you use enamel on metal, they can be colorful too. 

2 - Glass is a shape-shifter.  Yes, this one's an area that glass can smack down stone - but not plastic, ceramic or polymer clay.  In fact, I'd argue that the last material is the most versatile of all the mediums when it comes to making shapes.

3 - Glass beads are international.  I've got boxes of stone beads from Africa, China, the United States, Germany, Mexico, India, and metal beads from Israel, India and Thailand.

4 - Glass beads are personal.  Huh?  So an artisan made a lampworked bead.  What about the lapidarist who carved and faceted stone beads.  I can agree that there is something very charming and delightful about a representational piece of lampworked glass, but come on, artisans use all sorts of materials - glass is just one of many.

5 - Glass beads are versatile.  It's cool that glass comes in an amazing variety of shapes and sizes, but guess what, so does every other material.  I've got stone beads ranging from 2mm to 55mm and larger.

But what really got my knickers in a twist was the moron who wrote:

"The harvesting of precious metals and stones can involve environmental destruction, exploitation of workers and even wars. Glass is just as pretty and has much less impact on the planet!"

This twit clearly hasn't got a clue about glassmaking.  Yes, a hobbyist lampworker isn't having a huge environmental impact in his/her production of beads, but what about the materials themselves?  Glass beads aren't fairy dust and unicorn fur.

Glass makers aren't scooping up sand from the local beach. Silica and other elements are mined, usually in dirty open-pit operations. Silica is also one of the leading environmental causes of lung cancer (silicosis).

Pink glass gets its color from arsenic and red glass from gold.  Let's not even talk about cobalt.

There are lots of reasons to love glass beads, but thinking they are better for the environment than stone beads is just being ill-informed


Jaimie said...

Greatly said and I learned something also!

Kokopelli said...

Thanks for reviewing this post! And this guy has absoltely no clue about glassmaking.
Another bead with environmental issues: cinnabar beads, as cinnabar is the most important source for mercury. Today most "cinnabar" beads are fake and that's good.

Kokopelli said...

I forgot to say that I left you an award on my blog. I hope you like!