West Virginia Department of Commerce Glassmaking

Recent Pages: Glassmaking


Glassmaking in the Mountain State

Our state’s many glass companies further illustrate the idea that beauty and utility need not be opposing ideals.  From window glass and simple green glass bottles to the sophisticated art glass of today, more than 500 factories have manufactured glass in West Virginia throughout the state’s history. West Virginia was attractive to glass manufacturers because it offered great quantities of silica sand, stone and other chemical compounds necessary to produce glass and vast reserves of natural gas for fuel. The state’s natural reserves, paired with its network of rivers and railroads for the transportation of raw materials and finished wares, made West Virginia an ideal location to spawn the glass industry.

Today’s process hearkens back to 1827, when New England glassmaker Deming Jarves invented the press-molding machine. Using this device, glassmakers pressed molten glass into an iron mold with a plunger. The mold gave the glass both its shape and decorative pattern, eliminating the need for hand design. After 1900, glass factories began making their own molds on site, allowing them to create patterns unique to specific companies. Mold makers then became the skilled artisans that hand decorators had once been, and an industry was born.

Fenton Art Glass, the largest handmade colored glass manufacturer in the United States, celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2005. This family-owned Williamstown facility has a gift shop and museum, and offers free tours featuring glassblowers at work.

  1. Blenko Glass Company

    Exquisite color, skilled craftsmen and creative designs have made Blenko world famous. Artisans have learned the difficult techniques of...

    City: Milton

  2. Ron Hinkle Glass

    Expressions of art are created in many mediums. Down through the ages one of the most mystifying has been the art of glass blowing. Ron's...

    City: Buckhannon

  3. Fenton Art Glass Company and Fenton Gift Shop

    Though Fenton Art Glass Co. ceased traditional glassmaking in 2011, they continue to use more than a century of glassmaking expertise and...

    City: Williamstown

  4. Appalachian Glass Products & Services

    Specializing in mouth-blown friendship balls, animals, fruits, paper weights, Christmas ornaments and much more! Appalachian Glass Products ...

    City: Weston

  5. Homer Laughlin China Company

    Home of world famous Fiesta Dinnerware. Factory hours available by reservation Mon. - Fri.

    City: Newell

  6. Masterpiece Crystal Outlet

    Crystal ornaments, figurines, glassware, table lamps and novelty items are among the handmade glass pieces at Masterpiece. Hours: Daily 9...

    City: Jane Lew

  7. Willow Creek Glass

    Beautiful glass doesn’t have to be expensive. That’s our motto at Willow Creek Glass. This glass studio specializes in handmade innovative...

    City: Alum Bridge

  8. Amingo Glass Ltd.

    Stained-glass reproductions and custom designs. Hours:  8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    City: Hedgesville

  9. Boyce Art Glass

    Hand-blown and hand-crafted art glass

    City: West Union

  10. Carriage House Glass

    The gem of Oglebay's specialty shops, Carriage House Glass, features the area's largest selection of West Virginia decorative glassware....

    City: Wheeling

  11. Davis Handmade Marbles

    This gift shop offers a variety of handmade glass items, such as flowers, paperweights, napkin rings, eggs and figurines. A specialty line...

    City: Pennsboro

  12. West Virginia Glass Specialty

    Decorate your own glass product and take a tour! Hours: Monday – Friday 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Directions:...

    City: Ellenboro

  13. Wilkerson Glass Company

    Manufactures pressed, art and handblown glass. Call (304) 845-3552 for appointment and directions.   Credit cards not accepted. ...

    City: Moundsville

  14. Wissmach Glass Co., Inc.

    Wissmach Glass manufacturers the largest variety of colored-rolled sheet glass in the world.  Throughout the years, Wissmach Glass has...

    City: Paden City