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Firsts vs Seconds

What are Seconds?

Firsts vs Seconds

Above all at epiphany we value quality and craftsmanship. We take this very seriously and stake our reputations on it!  So when something isn’t up to our standards but isn’t cracked, broken, or sharp we make it a “second”. Our seconds are sweet little jewels with slight imperfections and inconsistencies that don’t match our intention for the piece. Flaws that might not even be noticeable to you unless we point them out.

What’s the difference in the paperweights shown here? Two are seconds and two aren’t. Can you tell which is which?  

Before we tell you the answer lets talk about a little bit more about intention. Here intention specifically means our ability to control the incredibly difficult medium of molten glass and to make it do what we want. Glass takes years and years to learn how to work with, how to use color, how to make things the same size and the same shape. It takes a lot of practice. And even then we still sometimes end up with things that didn’t turn out right. It doesn’t make them bad, we love the learning experience and the process of blowing glass is our favorite part after all, but it makes them not up to our high standards of quality.   

Another factor is consistency. We work with buyers all over the world who order our glass for their museum stores, galleries and department stores. Those buyers are purchasing and selling our works based on a photo they see of the piece. No one likes ordering something and having it arrive looking completely different from the picture! So we need to be vigilant about consistency to keep our clients and their clients happy. 

We love “happy accidents” but the inability to consistently control the glass is like shopping for day old bread or at a Nordstrom Rack, good but not the best. Our seconds are signed, but they are signed as “seconds”. We want you to know who made them, but we also want you to know they aren’t part of our line of gallery quality artworks. 

We offer our seconds for sale out of our studio only. Marked down 50-90% making them an affordable way for someone to start their collections or give a nice gift without spending a ton of money.

So have you figured out which ones are which at the left? The top two paperweights are both first and the bottom are seconds. 

Let’s dive into the different types of seconds and why they are seconds. 

Where seconds come from


The 4 “P’s” of shopping for types of seconds. 

  • Production seconds
  • Prototyping seconds
  • Practice seconds
  • Performance seconds
Production Seconds:


Pieces that do not match the size, color or shape of the work in our lines we sell to retailers. Differences in color, shape, size, pattern or air bubbles or tool marks could make pieces a second. The ring holder on the left is a first, it has a nice straight stem. While the ring holder on the right is a little bit funky and off center. 

Ring Holders marked as seconds have slight imperfections
Sleeping Cat Prototypes
Prototyping Seconds:


These are made when we are working on a new product. Either when we are developing something completely new from scratch, like when we designed the Tornado Decanter which took over a year to figure out! Or when we are working out fresh colors and patterns for a classic design like our Sleeping Kitties which are a fan favorite. This year we are coming out with 3 new colors. We went through months of trial and error playing with color and pattern to make the perfect new beauties. In the image on the left you can see some of our rejected colors for the Chocolate Mousse Sleeping Kitty and in the image on the right our perfect version which you can find in our webstore.

Sometimes seconds come from practicing a technique.
Practice Seconds:


Made as the glassblowers at epiphany increase their skill sets. We have all level2 of glassblowers here and working your way up from intern to master means learning how each piece is made by assisting and then making it yourself. To do this you have to practice and the practice pieces are seconds until you get really good. One very difficult technique to master is the art of striping glass. You can watch a video of us doing it here. To practice learning this you want to be able to work quickly on a small piece like an ornament so you can do a lot of the striping part and not all of the other steps which take a lot of time and use up a lot of glass.

Workshop demo pieces are sold as seconds
Performance Seconds:


Pieces created during our workshops. Our glass artists do a demonstration of the piece guests will create so they can watch and learn about the process. Instead of being focused on quality the artists are focused on communicating and teaching. Glass is a tough master and demands all of your attention so these pieces are often quirky and fun but not refined and polished. The cat and bird demo pieces make wonderful whimsy purchases, each capturing a special feeling. 

One thing all of our seconds have in common is that they are not cracked or broken. We will never sell broken pieces, glass is sharp and if something is cracked it may crack more or explode and hurt someone!

Seconds in the Garden


We hope this gave you a better understanding of the difference between gallery quality glass and seconds. Now when you see our seconds carts or you’ll be a more informed shopper! 

If you’d like to learn ways to display your seconds in the garden, read our blog post here.

If you would prefer to book a private appointment to avoid crowds, please call us at 248-745-3768 for scheduling. Don’t forget that we also offer curbside pickup Tuesday – Saturday from 10am – 3pm. Click here for more info.

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Seconds Cart