West Virginia has long been known for its many skilled artisans who create high-quality, handmade crafts and beautiful artwork. But fewer people are aware that West Virginia is a mecca for glass production and that the state has been home to world-class “glass masters” for centuries.
West Virginia’s rich heritage of glass production goes back to the early 1800s when it was discovered that the state had a wealth of silica sand, stone and other natural resources used in the glass making process. At the glass industry’s height, there were over 500 glass-making facilities in W. Virginia. Today there are 16. They range from small studios, where master glass blowers make one piece at a time, to large factories, like Fenton Art Glass in Williamstown, which was named by USA Today as one of the Top Ten factory tours in the U.S. Of course, there are plenty of opportunities to purchase beautiful art glass items throughout the state.
To learn more about WV’s history in glass, visit the Museum of American Glass in Weston. Displays and exhibits showcase the equipment and processes used over the years, different types of glass and information about key people in West Virginia’s glass making heritage.
For your next visit to W. Virginia., add one or more of these glass makers to your travel itinerary:
Fenton Art Glass
www.fentonartglass.com | Williamstown
Watch the glass being made and learn about the process of glass blowing. Tours and demos are generally available. Save time to visit the gift shop.
Blenko Glass Company
www.blenko.com | Milton
In business for over a century, Blenko continues the tradition of hand-made glass, including functional glassware, art glass and more. Daily glass blowing demos.
Ron Hinkle Glass
http://www.ronhinkleglass.com | Buckhannon
With over 35 years’ experience, Ron is known for his beautiful decorative and functional glassware. Visit the gallery and studio Monday – Saturday. Tours and demos are given Monday – Friday.
For a complete list of glass studios and factories, call the WV Division of tourism at (800) CALL WVA (800- 225-5982) and request their free “Glass Factories Guide.”
Ready to plan your trip to West Virginia? Visit Escape to the Southeast for more information and to request your free travel brochures.
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