celebrates 100th year
By Connie Cartmell,
The Marietta Times
February 9, 2005
WILLIAMSTOWN - What begins simply enough with a handful of sand and
a blast of fire has become pure gold for Fenton Art Glass Co. of
This year, the company celebrates its 100th anniversary, and
several events starting with this weekend are being conducted to
mark the occasion.
"We've been here three or four times in the last five years, and I
always enjoy it," Herbert Middlebrooks, of Trenton, Ga., said.
"There are not many handmade things in the world now."
Middlebrooks and his wife, Helon, stop at Fenton whenever they
come to the area from Georgia on business.
"My wife collects Fenton glass and today is hunting for a special
piece for a friend. I love to go through their plant. I love to
watch them make it," Middlebrooks said.
Founded in 1905 by Frank L. and John Fenton in Martins Ferry,
Fenton Art Glass Co. celebrates 100 years of glassmaking this year
and is now the largest manufacturer of handmade colored glass in
the United States,
Middlebrooks said he enjoys just standing in the middle of the
Fenton Gift Shop showroom and soaking in all the color and design,
displayed in every direction.
"Once you take a factory tour, and see how the glass is made, you
appreciate the craftsmanship so much more," Middlebrooks said. "We
have five children and make sure we take something back to each
Fenton is one of the top tourist draws in the region, offering
regular factory tours, glassmaking and decorating workshops,
Fenton family "signing" events, and the Fenton Gift Shop at the
"It's a family tradition that lives on," Jena Lane Blair, Fenton
centennial group coordinator, said. "We'll celebrate 100 years, a
significant anniversary, throughout the year."
Blair said an auction of significant historical pieces and various
eBay, QVC, and Lenox exclusives are planned over the centennial
Festivities culminate at the Fenton factory July 29 through Aug. 2
with special events, tours, sales, and more.
In addition to the free factory tours, there is a museum at the
Williamstown location, with many one-of-a-kind glass pieces.
Dave Fetty, a master glass blower, demonstrated his craft for
visitors Tuesday, making a red ruby centennial bell with a hanging
His face crimson from the heat of the furnace, and his glass,
Fetty skillfully pumped steady bursts of air through a long metal
tube to the expanding blob of glass on the end.
This is true glass blowing. Fetty, considered one of the best, was
with Fenton 41 years, 23 years as a supervisor. His work is highly
prized by collectors.
"You just have a few seconds to work with the glass before it
cools down," Fetty said. "I retired in '99, but I haven't quit
If you go
Decorate your own Fenton ornament - A Fenton centennial
10 and 11:30 a.m., 1 and 2 p.m. Saturdays.
Where: Fenton Gift Shops Inc., 420 Caroline Ave., Williamstown.
Open to all ages.
$25 per person, $20 for groups of 20 or more (ornament and
For reservations or for more information: (800) 319-7793, Ext.