Okay! American glass or China glass…. what is the difference and why would I want to own one over the other? At first, you might ask, “Why should I care?” The truth is there are substantial differences between glass which is mass-produced overseas and glass that is made here in America.
It is important to understand what we are talking about when we say, “American Glass”. American glass is blown in the United States and is typically made with better quality materials, sometimes means thicker glass. A lot of times this means that it was made by a specific artist and blown individually and by hand. Imported glass, typically made in China, is usually mass produced out of thin and fragile glass. Typically speaking, imported glass is made with cost effectiveness in mind, so the quality tends to be inferior to American made.
If American glass is better, why would anyone every buy imported? There are a few reasons as to why, but the most obvious reason is because imported glass is typically much more affordable. Because it is mass produced retailers and distributors can buy in bulk and spend a fraction of the cost if they were able to buy American made.
Imported glass is also more readily available in some areas of the country. A good head shop or glass gallery can be hard to come by in some areas of the US. And some shops might find it difficult to find a local glass blower. These shops would find it much easier to stock their shelves with imported glass rather than American.
If you are interested in having a piece that you can be proud of and show off to your friends, then it would be best to buy American. It is the classic quantity over quality debate. You can buy a cheap pipe that will be easy to replace once it breaks or you can buy a quality piece that will last for a long time. An imported glass piece is surely going to break or crack very easily.
Making the decision to start and American glass collection is basically making the decision to start an art collection. People who buy these pieces are proud and vocal about their collection of functional glass art. Think about it, American glass is blown by individual artists and contains a level of creativity, craftsmanship and attention to detail that is lacking when it comes to imported glass. Glass enthusiasts that buy American are art collectors.
That is a decision that you need to make on your own. Be informed about your decision. If you cannot afford to purchase American made glass, then you are kind of stuck purchasing imported glass. However, if you can afford American made, you are not only purchasing better quality, but you are supporting the American economy. If you purchase imported glass, even if it is through and American headshop or glass gallery, then you are ultimately supporting the country that piece of glass was made in.