Heart of Glass - Blenko Glass

Blenko Glass is a West Virginia treasure that spans generations. Nothing symbolizes the state of West Virginia better or more beautifully than Blenko Glass. We will discuss current and former craftsmen and designers and how important it is that Blenko and West Virginia glass be appreciated and valued by the younger generation.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

A Mold Maker

Several years ago my family and Shorty Finley went to our first Appalachain Glass Festival. The event is held in Weston, its hosted by Chip Turner of Appalachain Glass. We had the honor of spending an afternoon visiting with the gentleman featured in this article. I'm publishing the entire press release and photos from WV Museum of Art Glass located in Weston, W.Va.

Weston, WV – A marvelous oral history of the glass industry has been preserved on video and can be seen on YouTube at www.youtube.com and searching “mould maker”. The memories of Paul Weinberger were captured on January 22, 2011 in the Dorothy S. Daugherty Library for Glass Research at the Museum of American Glass in Weston, West Virginia. Mr. Weinberger seems relaxed in a comfortable wing-back chair as he is sensitively questioned by off-camera interviewer Marion Hearn wife of the videographer Carl Hearn. Because the YouTube format is limited to 15 minutes, the interview is divided into five sections, each with a theme, beginning with how he and his family started their mould making business on through to the demise of the American glass industry. A native of Weston born in 1923, Mr. Weinberger is a third generation mould maker. His grandfather worked in Constantinople, Turkey where his father was raised before coming to Weston to work in a glass factory. Mr. Weinberger graduated from high school in 1941and was then selected for a Depression era NRA program in Charleston where he studied pattern making. He subsequently worked at a navy yard where he made patterns for the battleship Missouri. After WWII he joined with his father and brother, who both had prior experience at a Weston glass company mould shop, to establish an independent shop. He could make a pattern in one day that was quickly made into a wood model that was then sent to a foundry where it was made into cast iron. The speed and quality of their work soon brought them business from all eight local glass companies and then business from as far away as Long Beach, CA, Washington state and even Peru. Mr. Weinberger’s position gave him intimate knowledge of glassmaking as he knew the factories and industry men well. He recalls riding with his uncles, one a foreman at West Virginia Glass and the other a foreman at Louie Glass, as they drove the moulds back and forth between the factories. He also tells of the significance of glass canes and the yearly glass exposition held just outside of Weston. Perhaps the most sad recollection is the one when he made a mould and was told when it was finished that it was to be shipped to China. His pain can be felt. Throughout the interview it is obvious that this talented man is proud of his work, but remains humble as he gives credit to his high school geometry teacher and his early training. This interview is a rare opportunity to see the American glass industry from an insider’s view. It has preserved first-hand the history in a very personal way for us and those who follow. In addition to the on-line interview, it is available on a continuous loop at the museum. The Museum of American Glass in West Virginia is open daily Memorial Day through Labor Day noon to 4:00pm. The balance of the year the museum is open daily noon to 4:00pm and closed on Wednesday and Sunday. Admission is free. It is easily accessible off I-79 exit 99 onto US 33 West for two miles to Main Avenue. A left turn onto Main and the museum is on the left at 230 Main Avenue. Begun in 1992, the museum relocated to its present location in 2007 and occupies 12,000 square feet with over 12,000 pieces of glass on permanent display. The museum is home to the National Marble Museum and The American Flint Glass Workers Union Archives. The museum holds an annual marble festival and numerous special exhibits throughout the year. More information can be found at http://wvmag.bglances.com/. Questions about programs or the museum can be directed to 304-269-5006.


Anonymous said...

Your obsession with Blenko and encounters with men over 70
always make for good reading on a dull afternoon.

Anonymous said...

More post like this
if you please.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, you must be a very miserable person. Do you ever say anything nice about anything?