Interest in West Virginia glass has been rekindled by artisans updating this craft with new designs, colors and individual flair.
During our state’s history, over 500 factories have manufactured glass in the Mountain State because it offers great quantities of silica sand, stone and other chemical compounds necessary to produce glass and vast reserves of natural gas for fuel. The network of rivers and railroads used to transport raw materials and finished product has made West Virginia an ideal location for all aspects of the industry.
To support the success of the glass industry, West Virginia attracted talented European immigrants to work in the glass factories. These glass workers have passed down their craft to future generations.
West Virginian glass artisans traditionally created both molded glass and hand-blown glass. With press-molded glass, glassmakers pressed molten glass into an iron mold, giving the glass both its shape and decorative pattern and eliminating the need for hand design. After 1900, glass factories began making their own molds on site, allowing them to create patterns unique to specific companies.
Hand-blown glass allows an artisan to introduce a small amount of air through a blow pipe or blow tube into a blob of molten glass. This novel technique dates back to the last century BC and is still practiced today by Ron Hinkle, Chip Turner and others.
MountainMade features a wide selection of glass art, made right here in the Mountain State. You can see more of our glass artisans’ work in the MountainMade Glassware Section of our website, or if you visit us in our beautiful Thomas Gallery.