Our hope for saving Steuben

Steuben Glass Initiative

Executive Summary

The Steuben Glass Initiative is a joint venture by two non-profit organizations, the Made in the USA Foundation and the American Arts Trust.  American Arts Trust is a non-profit, (tax-exempt status pending) organization whose mission is to preserve, protect and promote those arts and crafts that are uniquely American. The Made in the USA Foundation is a non-profit, tax- exempt organization dedicated to promoting products made in the United States.  The Steuben Glass Initiative’s mission is to keep Steuben Glass alive, to provide a glass workshop where Steuben’s glass workers can create new works, and to preserve the art of making art glass in the United States.

Brief History of Steuben Glass Works

Steuben Glass Works, the premier American art glass manufacturer, was founded in the summer of 1903 by Fredrick C. Carder and Thomas G. Hawkes in Corning, New York, which is in Steuben County, from which the company name was derived. Corning Glass Works bought Steuben in 1918.

Corning Glass Works appointed Arthur Houghton, Jr. as President in 1933, and under his leadership Steuben changed artistic direction toward more modern forms. Using a newly formulated clear glass developed by Corning (referred to as 10M) which had a very high refraction index, Steuben designers developed beautiful, fluid designs. Pieces such as the Gazelle Bowl, designed by Sidney Waugh, incorporated Art Deco and modernist themes into glass.

Steuben crystal has been a traditional presidential gift for more than 60 years.  The first such gift of state was the Merry-Go-Round Bowl that President Truman gave to Princess Elizabeth as a wedding gift in 1947.  President Carter gave matching Steuben pieces to Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachin Begin after the Camp David Peace Accord was signed.  Every U.S. President since Harry Truman has presented gifts of state made by Steuben Glass.

Steuben was sold by Corning in 2008, but closed its doors in 2012.

Mission Statement

It is a documented fact that countries on the rise collect and invest in their own art, where countries on the decline reject and divest themselves of their art heritage. Our mission is not to preserve in a stasis environment such as a museum, but rather keep this knowledge vital and fresh so that the next generations can draw on this true strength. 

In the case of Steuben, more valuable than the name itself is the collective knowledge of the 70 plus master craftsmen who are now without work and without a venue to pass that knowledge forward.

Can the U.S. live without a fine art glass presence in the world?  Certainly.  But why should we?  Throughout the history of glass making-- going all the way back to Phoenicia-there have never been more then a handful of names that have had the meaning of Steuben.  This should give us a sense of national pride that outweighs a strict adherence to the bottom line. The cost of our effort is far less then the potential value.

The Steuben Glass Initiative seeks to restore Steuben to its former glory, as a living American icon, and an American symbol that the United States can produce world-class art glass.

The Steuben Glass Initiative seeks donations and partners to bring these goals to fruition.

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