Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fenton Glasswork's Last Days

My husband and I were on our way south at the end of December when I saw that we were going to be passing very close to the Fenton Glass Factory in Williamstown, West Virginia.  When we got closer I saw the signs advertising factory tours and I felt as if a dream had come true. I had always wanted to see where those beautiful pieces of art glass were made, so I was really excited about being able to see how this gorgeous stuff is made.

It wasn't until we pulled into the near-empty parking lot that I remembered the stories I had read about the trials and tribulations of the Fenton company.

Cutting to the chase, the sad truth is that art glass is no longer being made at the Fenton factory.  There is a small glass bead-making section on-site, and the gift shop is still selling old stock, but the adjacent factory is silent and the employee parking lot is near empty.

Fenton Art Glass factory - closed now
Fenton Art Glass gift shop
Fenton gift shop display
Fenton Aqua glass display
Fenton reds historical display
Fenton modern
My mother loved Fenton glass but could only afford a few pieces over the years.  (But that didn't stop her from coveting it.)   I wasn't really a glass person myself, until I inherited her few pieces and realized how gorgeous they really are.

Fenton satin glass Butterfly Bonbon dish
Fenton hobnail vase
In my travels as a seller I found the gorgeous piece below.  (And yes, I'm sorry I ever sold it!)

Fenton Emerald Thumbprint pitcher

The heyday of art glass (and pottery) making in the U.S is apparently over.  I wish that weren't so, but lucky for us the beautiful pieces were produced in such quantities they're still available to anyone who wants quality and beauty in outstanding American products.