Thursday, April 9, 2009

Canadian Suppliers

The lampworking world, like most other international pursuits, is not Canada-centric. I purchased all my glass at my local glass store, Prairie Stained Glass, in my first year of learning but eventually my glass rod needs required bigger orders. I ordered from the USA for four years. My main suppliers were Arrow Springs for glass and tools and Metalliferous for silver findings. They both have great selection and prices, but the downfall for Andrea and I was cross-border duty and especially brokerage fees from UPS. After waiting 4-6 weeks for shipping, we would get hit with $70-$100 in fees for big orders, plus another $40 for shipping. Finally we figured we were being DUMB and needed to look harder for good Canadian suppliers already!

And find some we did! This season's big restocks came from Artistry in Glass, based in London Ontario nearish to Toronto, and Bamiyan Silver in Montreal. Canadian dollar prices (which are a better deal for us and will be way easier to deal with for tax time next year), FAST shipping (bliss!) and best of all, NO duties or brokerage, just GST! What took us so long to switch??? Well, I guess that in past years I couldn't find an online supplier with prices or selection that compared to the big US suppliers. That seems to have changed now - either more suppliers are finally getting online or my search skillz are improving.

Artistry in Glass carries a huge selection of glass for cold, warm and hot glass art. For lampworking, they have a good selection of tools (not quite as big as Arrow Springs, but growing) and a fabulous selection of glass rods, including Precision, Color is Messy, fancy silvered glass, and lots of boro too! They were also really nice to deal with during the order process, and the glass came beautifully packaged in rod-sized clear storage bags with labels. No irritating cling film or melty elastics or flammable rod-ends tags. They also have a "Flame and Foil" blog introducing all their new products as they come. My only disappointment was the clear which as I mentioned before was far from "Ultra" but that's really a manufacturer beef. I will definitely order from AIG again.

Bamiyan Silver was a bit of a surprise for us. You have to sign up for an account, which I did one day when I was searching for new silver and gemstone suppliers. Then I forgot about it for months and when I finally checked back I was really impressed! The prices for their silver beads and findings were even better than Metalliferous! And the selection is almost as good for silver findings - way better in the case of gemstone beads. The main weakness is metalworking tools, which they don't really carry, and a somewhat hard-to-navigate online store. You also have to be a business and order at least $150. The silver findings are really nice though, and I finally got my hands on some moonstone. :) I'm a happy girl!

I hope these review are helpful! Are there any other Canuck suppliers I should know about?


Islandgirl said...

I get my tools from Contenti in Rhode Island sorry not Canadian.. I've got stuff from Rio also not Canadian... However Bedrock in Edmonton does carry some tools as well!

Islandgirl aka Lynne (fireballbeeds)

Hearts of Glass said...

Thanks Lynne, I'll check them out!

K. Jill Peters said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
K. Jill Peters said...

i just checked out bamiyan silver, registered and got a quick approval - it looks like a great resource, thanks so much for sharing!
also, i recently ordered a bunch of tools from otto frei in california and spent less (even with shipping and duty) than i would have at gesswein... they have a great website and super service, check it out :)
thanks again!