Eve June 29th 2022

I started learning how to make neon in Maryland back in 1989 when I took a 12-week course. I then worked in neon sign shops for about 10 years before opening Evening Neon so I could focus on my own projects and artwork. My path was pretty traditional for getting into the field of neon, and I was fortunate to have been able to learn during a time when more neon shops existed and opportunities were readily available. After LED’s came into the market in the early 2000s, the neon industry really took a hit. Around that same time, the change over from lead to lead-free tubing happened and coupled with the diminishing availability of neon making supplies a lot of neon shops ended up closing. Fortunately with the advent of platforms like Instagram, neon has become popular again! This is creating a new generation seeking to journey into the wonderful world of neon making but aren’t quite sure how to begin. Although there are still neon shops out there willing to take on apprentices, those opportunities are still pretty scarce. There are workshops and classes available at a few glass facilities and some colleges offer courses in neon as part of their arts program which is a good starting point but really only gives a “taste” of the neon making process. Even the neon schools which were prevalent in the 1980s were meant to only provide the basics, with the idea that when you finished the program you would further hone your skills over thousands of hours working in a neon shop. The reality is that unless you are consistently getting bending time in the fires, it’s very difficult to improve your skills and develop into a competent neon craftsperson. Learning neon glass bending needs to be a constant, ongoing activity. There are no shortcuts. This leaves many who are dedicated to learning neon tube bending to resort to what has become the default approach: set up your own torches, buy some glass to start practicing and try to figure it out on your own. That is a really difficult way to learn neon!! Working with hot glass is difficult enough, and without the knowledge and guidance of a skilled tube bender to facilitate the learning, it can become self-defeating real quick.

This is why I’m so excited about the Neon Makers Guild, an organization whose time has come. We want to create a place where aspiring beginners can connect with experienced benders and gain access to all of their juicy neon knowledge. Neon Makers Guild is a space where folks who are dedicated to the craft of neon making can share information, learn things and generally support each other in the spirit of generosity so we can all be the best neon craftspeople we can be. Social media has been a place for some of this connection, but as someone looking to spend LESS time on social media I’m excited to have somewhere to gather that isn’t going to treat me like a product and sell my data! We have a lot of great things planned for the Neon Maker’s Guild and I’m really happy to be helping build this organization and community.

Let’s all help to keep those neon fires burning! 

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