Glassmaking
Cities

Experience The Traditional Art of Glassmaking in Virginia

Out of the many ancient art and craftsmanship that have been passed down for generations, one of the richest traditions present in Western Virginia is glassmaking. The art of making glass is a thriving industry in the area since the later 1800s with over 400 active factories and manufacturers and several places where citizens are still adept at making handmade glass.

The territory of West Virginia is suitable for the industry of glassmaking as its silica sand deposits are of the best quality in the United States. From this silica sand, glass is made by heating it to extreme temperatures so that it turns into a moldable liquid state. When it is cooled, it will become a piece of glass according to the shape created by the glassmaker – either a freeform shape or one made from being pressed in a mold. TH glass could be produced into sheets, colored, and cut to be used in stained-glass windows. At the dawn of the industrial revolution and with the rich deposits of silica in their area, Virginia became the home of hundreds of glass companies that manufacture large amounts of glass products. To learn more about glassmaking in Virginia, here are some top places to visit.

The Museums Dedicated to Glass

The Museum of American Glass in West Virginia is located in Weston. It is a museum specially dedicated to the exhibit of the long and colorful history of glass production in the state of Virginia. Compared to other museums, the Museum of American Glass is a small establishment, but it contains rich insights into the various production methods of glass and a showcase of how the glass industry evolved over time. Visitors can also access the museum archive for more information on the history of glass. Another glass museum can be found in Wheeling, Virginia’s Oglebay Mansion and Resort. Unlike the Museum of American Glass, the Oglebay museum focuses more on glass products made in the northern region of Virginia as well as its glassmaking artistry and techniques from the last 200 years.

Shops for Purchasing Glass Creations

A family of glassmakers has been operational since 1921 in the town of Milton West Virginia and own the Blenko company showroom. Because of the family’s expertise and renown in the art of glassmaking, they are able to create their own small factory of 20 working personnel involved in the production of intricate glass pieces. The Blenko company showroom is open for visitors on all weekdays except Wednesdays. Glass marbles are an essential piece of childhood for a lot of adults. The production of these glass toy products can be traced to Paden City, where the Marble King company is located. They were founded in 1949, and at present, the factory can produce up to one million glass marbles in a day. The Marble King gift shop is often during the summer months where aside from glass marbles, jewelry, and other marble toys can be bought.