Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘glassblower’

Grave Creek Mound Archeological Complex

Grave Creek Archeological Center in Moundsville, WV

Grave Creek Archeological Center in Moundsville, WV

It’s not what you find
It’s what you find out.
~David Hurst Thomas

That sign was the first thing that caught my eye as I entered the Grave Creek Mound Archeological Complex in Moundsville, West Virginia.  Those words put the mind in a state of exploration – the goal of this facility. While the focal point of this entire complex is the large earthen Grave Creek Mound beside the parking lot, today the visit will be inside the complex.

Curators at work in the research facility

Curators at work in the research facility

Close to the entrance into the building is a large glass wall so visitors can view recent finds being researched and recorded by curators in West Virginia Archeological Research Facility, which is a recently added wing in 2008. This is where artifacts, from various archeological digs all over the state, are processed, studied and recorded.

One portion of the complex, Delf Norona Museum, displays information regarding the lives of prehistoric people and the structure of The Mound inself.  This complex is indeed complex, as it holds not only information regarding the Grave Creek Mound, but also touches on rotating displays of many local cultural and historic exhibits entitled: West Virginia’s Gift to The World.  They have given themselves space to grow as exhibits are not in the least bit crowded, making viewing a pleasure.  Throughout the year, lectures and films in their 135 seat theater are held to inform the public on Native Americans and Ancient Americans.

Ron Hinkle's display of blownglass creations

Ron Hinkle’s display of blownglass creations

Ron Hinkle’s Blown Glass immediately caught my eye since my father was also a glassblower. Ron’s wall-size blown glass display sparkles with a bit of magic as every piece is unique. Since opening his own company in 1994, Ron hopes to keep the spirit and art of glassblowing alive and well in the area.

Fashion Dolls of Pete Ballard

Fashion Dolls by Pete Ballard

Ladies Fashion Dolls of the Nineteenth Century by Pete Ballard catches the eye of most ladies as they enter the front door.  This collection shows the changes in ladies’ fashions from 1770 to 1930 in a large display where each of the fifty-six dolls has a brass plate with its name, year, and number for easy cross reference to a booklet which can be picked up just inside the room. The oldest doll, Elizabeth, was from the style of 1800, being dressed in a green and red wool pattern.

Marble King's creative design with marbles

Marble King’s creative design with marbles

The Marble King actually received its name from a gentleman named Berry Pink. While working for Peltier Glass, Berry traveled across the country hosting marble tournaments and giving away marbles at each stop. Reminds me of Johnny Appleseed ! When Peltier Glass could no longer keep up with the demand, Berry and a partner formed a company and named it after Berry’s nickname, The Marble King. Not only do children still enjoy playing marbles either in the traditional way or with games, but many artistic designs have also been created using their beautiful colors. Marbles are thought to be the first competitive sport as far back as the Greek and Roman Empires.

Display of Homer Laughlin China Company's popular items

Display of Homer Laughlin China Company’s popular items

Homer Laughlin China Company has provided many families with quality chinaware for nearly 150 years. Homer and Shakespeare Laughlin started their company way back in 1871 in East Liverpool, Ohio. In 1902, Homer moved the kilns to Newell, WV just across the Ohio River using the new suspension bridge and trolleyline as a means to bring his trained potters across to West Virginia. Here they constructed the largest pottery plant ever built in the world. This fine pottery is a highly collectible item in the area, but many families still use it for special occassions. This large display will bring back memories for many of the viewers.

The remainder of this museum deals with the history of the basic reason for this entire complex – Grave Creek Mound – just outside the building. This large mound measuring 62′ high with a 240′ base diameter, is the largest conical earthen mound in the New World.  The secrets of this mound will require another tale. So stay tuned…for the rest of the story.

Grave Creek Mound Archeological Complex in Moundsville, West Virginia is located on the east bank of the Ohio River. Traveling on the West Virginia side of the river, follow Route 2 into Moundsville.  Turn left on 8th Street and after two blocks turn right onto Jefferson Ave. You can’t miss The Mound! Admission is free and the complex is open Tuesday – Saturday from 9am – 5pm.

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Oglebay Institute Glass Museum Sparkles

Fire Art!  Hot! Hot! Hot! From the days of the early Romans to today in West Virginia, the art of blowing glass hasn’t changed dramatically. Inspire your imagination while visiting Oglebay Institute in Wheeling, West Virginia.

In the lower level of Carriage House Glass, the Oglebay Institute Glass Museum demonstrated the art of making various objects using glass blowing techniques.  A young man showed visitors how to form bowls, bottles, and paperweights using his many artistic skills.

Imagine working day after day in front  of an oven where the temperature was 2400 degrees F.  Yes, that figure is correct. Would feel like heat from an erupting volcano! That is the temperature needed to melt the raw materials used in the manufacture of glass.

After the glassblower gathered a ball of glass on his blowpipe, the pipe was placed into the heating drum to get the glass to a temperature of at least 2200 degrees.  This is one hot job! He then took the glass and placed it in a mold to shape the glass into the object he wished to turn out. Several trips were necessary between the furnace and workbench to shape, finish off the rough edges, and flatten the bottom before he could break the newly formed object from the blowpipe.  He just hoped he had used the right temperature, and the correct strength of tapping to remove the object, or else his work would have been in vain and there would be a pile of broken glass.

But this time all went well and the glassblower, who had been doing this for five years now, put the bottle in a cooling tank, called an annealing oven, where the temperature would slowly be reduced to prevent cracking. In a regular glass factory, this cooling process would take place on a cool-down conveyor belt. In the picture at the left, you see examples of some of the beautiful paperweights, cups, and containers made using the art of glassblowing. Individuals can also make their own paperweights here…with a little help from the glassblower!

The glassblowing demonstration was just a small corner of the Glass Museum, where over 3000 pieces of Wheeling Glass (1829-1939) were on display as well as Northwood carnival glass, Victorian art glass, and many more.  Display cases glistened with the sparkling handcrafted glassware, as well as Ohio Valley pottery.

Among the popular pottery pieces, stands  a magnificent Flow Blue Jardiniere and Pedestal that belonged to Admiral Dewey.  Made by the Wheeling Pottery Company, it features a scene of Spanish American War naval hero, Admiral George Dewey. It was presented to the Deweys on a visit to Wheeling in the late 1800s. The Jardiniere stands about 3 1/2′ high and would originally have been used to hold flowers in a well-to-do Victorian home. This is thought to be the only Dewey Jardiniere of this size still existing.

in 1849, the Sweeney brothers, Michael and Thomas, designed the largest cut glass crystal punch bowl ever made.  Sweeney Punch Bowl weighs 225 pounds and stands five feet tall, nearly as tall as the young man in the picture. After a disagreement occurred between the brothers,  Michael claimed the piece as his own work,  and for seventy four years it sat glass encased on his grave in Greenwood Cemetery in Wheeling, West Virginia. As you might imagine, when Thomas returned to the area and found the work claimed by Michael alone,  he was speechless. Today this priceless work of art is the centerpiece of the Oglebay Institute Glass Museum.

Back upstairs, Carriage Hill Glass Gift Shop was filled with unique, decorative gifts made of glass and pottery. There was everything from stained glass pieces to beautiful dinnerware, and their popular Glass Rain Drops. As a single raindrop raises the sea, so each of us makes a difference in the world – some cause storms and others grow flowers. Handcrafted glass continues to make a big difference in the world as people create their individual masterpieces.

The Museums of Oglebay Institute are located in Wheeling, West Virginia just off I-70 at Exit 2A. Then follow the Oglebay Park signs. Admission for both museums is a reasonable $10 per person. 

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