Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘etching’

The Cambridge Glass Museum Sparkles with Memories

Picture of the original Cambridge Glass Company in 1909

Picture of the original Cambridge Glass Company in 1909

Stepping inside the National Museum of Cambridge Glass in Cambridge, Ohio makes former employees and their families feel a great sense of pride in the fine work displayed within its walls. Visitor after visitor marvels at the fine workmanship that has stood the test of time. Over 6,000 pieces of the finest glass in the world are on display.

Original finishing bench from Cambridge Glass. Dad could have sat here.

Volunteers Cindy, Gary, and Sandi demonstrate making glass around an original finishing bench from Cambridge Glass. Dad might have sat on that bench.

My thoughts always turn to Dad and Mom when I enter its doors. Working at Cambridge Glass Co. for over thirty years, my dad, Rudy Wencek, learned to do many different jobs: carrying-in boy, presser, finisher, and blower. Mom, known as Kate to her friends, only worked there a few years in the packing department.

Two of Dad's turncards show he was finisher, the item being made, and amount paid.

Two of Dad’s turncards show he was finisher, the item being made, and amount paid.

All of the employees remember it being a great place to work. Since times were tough during many of those years, the company provided a factory restaurant, where employees could get an economical meal and have it deducted from their pay.  They also were able to get coal to heat their homes at a reduced rate from Cambridge Glass’s Near Cut Coal Mine. Insurance was even provided for their employees.

Our long driveway was covered, not with gravel, but with ashes from the furnaces of Cambridge Glass. Many recall employees’ sidewalks and driveways having a coating of Cambridge Glass ash.

These popular Georgian tumblers were used daily at my parents'home.

These popular Georgian tumblers were used daily at my parents’ home.

When the plant closed in 1958, glass enthusiasts wanted to preserve its history, so in 1983 they opened the first National Museum of Cambridge Glass. Today their museum is on 9th Street just off Wheeling Avenue in downtown Cambridge.

These marbles from Christensen Agate Co. were made from Cambridge cullet glass.

These marbles from Christensen Agate Co. were made from Cambridge cullet.

This past year they have created two new displays that are fascinating. One involves marbles. The Christensen Agate Co. made “the world’s most perfectly formed marbles.” They were located right behind the Cambridge Glass Company. To make the beautiful colors in their marbles, they used Cambridge Glass Company’s broken or waste glass called cullet, which they remelted to form the marbles..

This display shows some of the Cambridge Glass used in movies or television shows.

This display shows some of the Cambridge Glass used in movies or television shows.

A larger display is called Hollywood Glass. Here you can spot Cambridge Glass pieces that have actually been used in movies and television shows. It’s quite impressive to realize that the things made in this small town are considered fine enough quality to be used in such manner as: a wine glass in White Christmas, an etched pitcher in Gunsmoke, a funnel on Hawaii Five-O, plus many more.

School and bus groups frequently tour the museum. Beginning with a short video actually filmed at the Cambridge Glass Company in the 1940s, visitors are then given a quiz regarding the video. Those with the correct answers are dressed in working gear as the process is reviewed.

Students enjoy using the etching plates.

Students enjoy using the etching plates.

Another aspect that greatly interests adults and students happens in the etching department. Here they are given actual Cambridge Glass etching plates, for such patterns as Rose Point, Dragon, or Chantilly, and can see the patterns emerge on a paper trail rather than glass. Of course, beautiful, etched glass creations are visible throughout the museum.

Hopefully, someday you will take the time to see these pieces of glass artwork made by friends and family right here in Guernsey County. Dad and his co-workers should feel great pride in the beautiful gems they have created. Part of them lives on in their handiwork.

The National Museum of Cambridge Glass is located in Cambridge, Ohio at 136 S 9th Street, just a half block off its main street, Wheeling Avenue – also called old Route 40. Admission is a reasonable $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, and children under 12 are admitted free.

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Cambridge Glass Company: Quality Heritage Preserved


Elegance of a bygone era is evident at The National Museum of Cambridge Glass, which is near downtown Cambridge, Ohio. Here you will find over 6000 pieces of handcrafted quality glassware – some of the finest in the world.

Cambridge Glass Company was founded back in 1902 with Arthur James Bennett, a glassmaker from Boston, as its president.  Cambridge was chosen as the site of this new venture because of its easy access to natural gas wells and coal mines, as well as railroads to bring in supplies and deliver the finished products. To get those furnaces blasting hot, they even had their own coal mine at Near Cut. Due to the intense heat of those furnaces, it was quite common to work early in the morning during the summer months so temperatures were a little cooler.

How many people do you think handled an elegant piece of glass from start to finish? That number could run as high as seventy five individuals! All of them were extremely proud to be part of this high quality product.

Back in 1973, a group was formed to establish this museum to display, study, and preserve the history of Cambridge Glass Co. At that time they created a revised logo based on the original one used by Cambridge Glass, but added the beginning and ending dates of operation.

Upon entering the museum, the beautiful colors and designs sparkle in rows and rows of showcases. Guides are on hand to explain the history of the glass making process at Cambridge Glass Company from 1902-1958. Back in 1902, the first dazzling piece produced was a crystal water pitcher, the Big X, which is on display at the museum.

One great place to begin your tour is in the Auditorium where they have a short video showing the glass making process. Here you will view actual films of work at Cambridge Glass back in the 1940s. These color enhanced films show workers of that time gathering, shaping, etching and engraving their beautiful glass pieces. There are also on display several original pieces of equipment, which were used at Cambridge Glass Company.

Etched glass attracts the eye of almost everyone who appreciates the beauty of fine hand workmanship. Some of the etched patterns have real gold fused on the glass for trim. as well as gold in the intricate pattern of the etchings. Rose Point is the most popular etching with elaborate wild roses midst vines and leaves. Rose Point is the most collected pattern and while it is usually in crystal, it can be found rarely in other colors.  The guides will often let you experience the method of etching using templates from Cambridge Glass.

The interpretive area sheds light on the history through an interesting display of tools and molds used during their productive years. Here you see an office worker overlooking the time sheets, an engraving table with a high tech bucket cooling system, and the popular glass blower. The addition of color to the glass made Cambridge Glass even more sought after as a collector’s item. As early as 1903, colors of Opal, Turquoise, Blue, Green and Amber were being produced, but not very extensively. Gradually more colors were added and in the early 30s a glass chemist created some of the most popular colors for collectors today.  Everyone has their favorite, but one of the most popular colors  is Crown Tuscan, a flesh colored pink milkglass, while other favorites are Carmen, Royal Blue or Amethyst.

Department stores in that era used Cambridge Glass in their displays for various reasons. These stores used glass holders to display their perfumes and millinery, as well as sparkling glassware displays. Some of the items that are in the museum today were actually purchased from Chicago and New York department stores.

The gift shop has actual pieces of Cambridge Glass for sale as well as books. A recent addition has been jewelry and Christmas ornaments made from broken pieces of Cambridge Glass that have been refinished, making each piece unique.   One of my favorites is a necklace purchased there a couple years ago made from the milkglass wing of a Cambridge Glass swan.  Special memories are included since my father worked at Cambridge Glass from the age of twelve as a carrying-in boy, and later as a presser, finisher and glassblower until the plant closed.

Add some sparkle to your life and stop by The National Cambridge Glass Museum to view fascinating local history. Join visitors from all over the world while you learn more about the rich heritage of glassmaking in the Cambridge area.

The National Museum of Cambridge Glass is located in Cambridge, Ohio on 136 South  Ninth Street, just half a block off Wheeling Avenue. Head to downtown Cambridge off any Cambridge exit near the crossroads of I-77 and I-70. The easily recognizable Cambridge Glass logo is on the front of the museum. The museum is open from April 1st through October 31st, Wednesday through Saturday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sunday Noon – 4 p.m.  Admission is very reasonable at $5 per adult and $4 for senior.  Children under twelve are free when accompanied by an adult.  If you have any questions regarding the museum, call 740-432-4245. Visit their website at www.cambridgeglass.org .

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