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.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Beads, Beads, Everywhere! Fenton Glass

Fenton Glass Beadmaking Workshop
Event Date: March 10, 2012
Experience the ancient art of lampwork at Fenton this summer as you create your very own bead from Fenton glass. During this 2 and 1/2 hour class you will have the opportunity to try your hand at the torch using Fenton glass rods and delicate glass frit to build your own beautiful keepsake beads. Perfect to adorn a necklace or bracelet. Limited space available so buy your ticket today.
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The history of beads is the story of man's ingenuity. " In times past many cultures used beads to pay for goods and services, express social status, embody religious beliefs and ward off envy or malice. A bead is a symbol of culture and tradition, and its an object of awe and respect " ( Georgene Lockwood).
Collecting beads is one of the fastest growing hobbies. Being able to wear daily the item you collect must be rewarding.

Each year during the July 4th Arts of Crafts Fair - Ripley, WVa. Craftsmen who make beads and teach bead making are featured. It is estimated that over 300 craftsmen with business license in WVa make beads.

Only one glass factory is making glass beads in West Virginia. Fenton Glass http://www.fentonartglass.com/. Is now offering handcrafted glass beads.
One blog reader sent photos of the 6 she bought ranging in prices from $35 to $70.
Heart of Glass believes wearing something handcrafted in West Virginia is ... priceless.

Blenko Glass doesn't make beads, and has no future plans to make beads.
Many glass factories have a history of making beads.

The first glass factory in America was in Virginia and primarily was used to make beads to trade with the Native Americans. It was destroyed in 1622 during the Jamestown Colony massacre.

One of the most versatile materials used in making beads in glass. Glass beads commonly come from India, Italy and central Europe. Bohemian beads are especially desirable.

The Venetian glass works at Murano Italy was a major center for glass making during the Renaissance and Venetian glass beads are still a favorite. Sometimes you'll see Venetian beads called " wedding cake" beads because, like a fancy cake, they are ornately decorated in a raised fashion.

Swarovski Crystal founded by Austrian Daniel Swarovski devised a 'secret' way of cutting glass beads. These crystal beads have a high lead content and a lot of sparkle.

Mileefori are glass beads with a very ornate pattern resembling bouquets of flowers ( mellefori literally means 1,000 flowers in Italian. These beads originated in the Venetian glass works in Murano, Italy. They are made from slices of multicolored glass rods called canes that are laid over a glass core and smoothed to the surface while still hot.

Locally, Lamp work is the most common method of making beads. These are individually crafted beads made by winding molten glass around a metal rod. The glass is headed using a small torch. " Art" beads are often lamp work beads, and one bead can be very expensive. Lamp work beads from Venice have been highly prized throughout history. Some lamp work beads from Czechoslovakia and India are made by craftsmen who have apprenticed and learned to make beads nearly exactly alike and in large quantities.

Note: For more info 'The Complete Guide to Beading by Jane Davis 2005. Thanks to Blog Reader Suzanne for providing bead info and photos.

There are more kinds of beads that I don't have the room to include.
Several years ago the wearing glass beads on a bracelets or neck chain replaced the standard old charm bracelet.
If you collect beads and want to share your photos or stories of collection please send
to theblenkoproject@aol. All photos and stories will be used in a future post about Glass Beads.


Anonymous said...

Nice post. Much like the old post from 2005-2007 before your burn out.

ERDOCSeattle said...

Educational. Informative.
Not about Blenko.
What more could we ask for?

ERDOCSeattle said...

Very good. Informative, educational.
A nice 'blast for the past'
I'll leave bead making to the pros, but I do purchase beads.

Anonymous said...

Copied this for our newsletter.
Thank you glassdoc

Glasshound said...

Fenton is doing extremely well with the glass beads.
The statement : Why would Blenko want to make beads - left me laughing.
Blenko no longer has an identity to loose.

Anonymous said...

Today I started a wv bead collection - thank you.

Anonymous said...

I did not buy any beads, who could afford $60 for a small lifesafer size bead?
Ugh Glassdoc write for your audience.

Anonymous said...

This class is now full.

It filled in 10 days due to lack of interest.

Anonymous said...

Sending you photos today
of my charms - all glass.

penny said...

I agree. Nice post Hilary.