The Blenko Glass Facory

Fairground Rd.

Milton, Wv.

July 21, 1999

While enjoying Map namethe clear West Virginia air, we learned image-01 that the area around Huntington was famous for its hand blown glass. We sought out one of these factories in Milton, just east of Huntington. The Blenko Glass Factory, world famous for its hand blown decorative tableware and sheet glass for stained glass windows, maintains both a museum on glass and an observation area which overlooks the working area where the glass blowers apply image-05their trade. It was in this area that we met Don Walker, a 34 year veteran employee with the company. In Don, we found all the knowledge one would ever need about the blowing of glass. He explained that the glass was created out of a mixture whipped up in the back yard in a cement mixer. A combination of 60% sand, 20% soda ash, 10% limestone and 10% additional inert materials creates the clear glass that is used for all the creations. This compound is then shoveled into a furnace and heated at 2,600 degrees for 14 to 16 hours. image-09The glass is then checked for image-07 "seeds" or bubbles and if acceptable is cooled to 2,200 degrees. The blowing pipes are stainless steel and around 5-6 feet long. A small bubble of glass is added to the end of the pipe. In a few minutes a second layer of glass is added. The glass is then brought out onto the floor where a worker cools it down and starts the basic shape by turning it against a wooden bowl or spoon. A paddle is then moved back and forth over the glass ball to distribute the weight.

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