I hate turning down business and I bet you do too. But if the work isn’t something you feel comfortable doing – commercially or technically – then ‘Thanks but no thanks’ must be the way to go.
We set out to be stained glass artists, and the increasing community of customers who’ve commissioned pieces from us or who have bought pieces from us directly or through galleries tells us we’re getting some things right.
Sadly, though, we may have upset a few potential customers recently by turning them down.
“I can’t believe you’re turning down work with the economy the way it is” was one reaction.
Well, sorry folks, but we really don’t do repairs or restorations. There are folks out there who’ll do repairs to smaller pieces but not us, and there are companmies who specialise in restorations. But there’s the rub – they have specialised. We sure haven’t!
Restoration is a tricky business and involves a lot of particular skills, access to facilities most of us can’t provide and entails a very slow and painstaking process of research, careful removal, dismantling, and re-construction. And let’s not forget that many restorations will require glass to be sourced that’s sufficiently authentic to satisfy conservation experts and heritage protectors.
It’s also hazardous. Not long ago a stained glass restoration company in the UK was fined £30,000 by the HSE for not providing training and protective breathing gear to staff. That old lead cement and those dusty lead cames that need to be stripped apart can cause all manner of respiratory or circulatory problems if not handled by people properly equipped both in skills and in equipment.
The number one reason we don’t do repairs or restorations though, is that it’s a very rare customer who appreciates just how much time is involved. If we have to go out and source some glass to resemble existing sections, will the customer be prepared to pay our daily rate for the time incurred, even before we’ve done any ‘real’ work?
So, again, sorry, but no thanks.
A repair to a smaller piece can often take as long as it would to make it from scratch but this is often not a welcome observation when the piece has sentimental value.
And to the fellow who rather haughtily suggested our (very realistic) hourly rates were much too high, well – if you want to entrust the repair of your irreplaceable heirloom to a someone who’ll attempt a repair at a rate of not much more than the UK minimum wage, then caveat emptor!
So there we have it – if we turn down your repair job, we’re not saying we don’t like you, nor are we actively trying to offend you, we’re just not prepared to take on work that will cost us more to do than you’re willing or able to pay!
Until next time,