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Tour Fenton Art Glass Factory In Williamstown, WV

For over 100 years Fenton Art Glass in Williamstown, West Virginia has been producing some of the most beautiful handcrafted art glass in America. Today Fenton reigns as the largest manufacturer of handmade colored glass in the United States. Brothers Frank and John Fenton founded the family business in an old glass factory building in Martins Ferry, Ohio, in 1905.

The brothers business soon outgrew their original location. Frank and John decided rather than buy glass pieces already made they should produce their own glass. They moved their operation across the Ohio River and the first glass from the new Fenton factory in Williamstown, West Virginia, was made on January 2, 1907. From 1905 into the 1920's, the artists at Tiffany and Steuben influenced much of Fenton’s design. In late 1907, Fenton introduced "Iridescent" glass. This glass, now known as "Carnival" glass, is a popular collectible today.

The company, as recently as three years ago, was on the brink of bankruptcy. The family company pulled together and is once again going strong. Fenton is known for creating handmade glass artistry that combines beautiful colors and patterns making the glass loved by collectors around the world. A recent episode of “Dirty Jobs,” with host Mike Rowe was filmed at the factory. It was obvious by watching all of Mike’s mistakes, it takes experienced, dedicated employees that have trained for years, to make this beautiful art glass.

A free factory tour lets you feel the heat, as you get up close to the tools, techniques and artisans that turn molten glass into collectible works of art. Fenton glass from the past, as well as other Ohio Valley glassmakers, is on display in the Fenton Museum. The gift shop glitters with thousands of pieces of fine art glass in rich colors such as Empress Rose, Ice Blue Pearl, Mandarin Red, and Mongolian Green.

Visitors to Fenton Art Glass can see talented craftsmen, designers, and decorators during the free factory tour. According to Fenton, glassmaking is an extraordinarily complex process, and the casual visitor on a Fenton tour really sees just a fraction of the total workforce. Every piece of glass is touched, directly or indirectly, by dozens of pairs of hands. Each individual is truly a craftsman at his trade from sculpting the clay models to working with molten glass in the Hot Metal Shop.

Your guided tour will take you right to the action where skilled glassworkers use the tools and techniques of centuries ago to create beautiful art glass right before your eyes! You'll see glassblowing and pressing operations as well as Fenton's signature skills − basket handling and "ringing!"

For more information visit: www.fentonartglass.com. For additional tour information email: tours@fentongiftshop.com.

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