In the past several weeks, a few monthly publications have featured "trainees" in the field of building trades and building preservation.....masonry, carpentry, electricians, plumbers, wood window restorers, etc.....made me think about the stained glass industry. Not asking for you to say, YES, our studio has an apprentice, but.....if you don't have any, hopefully this note will cause you to pause and think about the best manner you can help sustain the stained glass repair/restoration industry for the future.
If you care to comment, fine....but.... at least think about this....!!! Thanks!!
This really is a topic I have thought about a lot over the years. I do feel it's tragic that there is no real apprentice program for this craft in the USA nor has there ever really been one to my understanding. I'm sure there has been some forms of it at various studios over the years that I'm not aware of but I'm thinking of on the same level as plumbers, carpenters etc... with the set milestones of apprentice, journeyman, master. ( I've truly always wanted to know at what point is one a master stained glass craftsman/artist?)
I've worked with an Englishman an Austrian a Dutchman and a German. From ages of 30 to 80, all were apprenticed in their respective countries.
The Dutch man has told me how in the 50s they trained at the German studio then came to the states to work at a companion studio and whenever someone was to be trained further they went back home across the ocean and returned when they were trained.
So I do feel like it's unfortunate that there are so few people that can do what we do and the number is only declining. But at the same time it makes me feel all the more proud that I have a unique career and I get carry on very traditional craft.
With that said, I help at a studio teaching a very beginner class trying to keep the craft going and where I work full time we do have a young guy who is learning the ways of the artistic side of the craft, this as close to an apprentice program as we have, at least I can account for a few people who will carry on the torch or soldering iron in this case.
This is interesting reading, answers lots of questions.
The BIG difference in "old" apprenticeship programs is that they were controlled by guilds and unions. And typically the apprentice or their family paid for the privilege of learning a trade. Today everyone who is employed must get at least minimum wage plus all government required benefits. ie workman's comp insurance, overtime pay, unemployment insurance etc. By the time an employer complies, an untrained person can cost $20+ an hour. For that money, you can find someone with at least some skills.