The West Virginia Division of Culture and History will unveil a new exhibit, West Virginia’s Gift to the World: Fenton–Handcrafted American Glass Artistry, with a gala reception on Thursday, April 3 at 7 p.m., at the Cultural Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. Visitors can meet George and Scott Fenton, president and vice-president of the company, and witness the presentation of limited edition, signed and numbered, eight-inch tall flip vases entitled “West Virginia Winter” to Governor Joe Manchin III and First Lady Gayle Manchin and Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith of the Division of Culture and History. The exhibition and opening reception are free and open to the public.
Visitors also can see a 22-minute film about the company, Experience Fenton: Glassmaking–An Art of Hand and Heart, and purchase the limited edition flip vase and a coffee table book entitled Fenton: Handcrafted American Glass Artistry. The “West Virginia Winter” vase is indigo blue in color, has an interior diamond optic pattern and a handpainted decoration featuring birch trees, a stream and mountains in the background. A cardinal and snowflakes add to the decor. There will be 100 signed and numbered vases available for purchase at $99 each plus tax.
The book was published in 2005 in conjunction with the company’s 100th anniversary. It features color photographs of 100 Fenton glass items chosen by members of the Fenton family to reflect the company’s history as America’s foremost producer of handmade colored art glass. It has been personally signed by nine members of the family and can be purchased for $49.50 plus tax.
The exhibit is on display in the Lobby Gallery where visitors can see a colorful wall of art glass that has been produced from 2000 - 2007. There also are vitrines which contain figurines, seasonal glassware and selected vases from the same time period.
The north wing of the Balcony Gallery has a timeline of the glass company and historical pieces dating from 1907 to 2005, including a Favrene vase which is a Don Fenton memorial piece from the Fenton Centennial Collection in 2005; an amethyst carnival glass bowl circa 1910-12; an amethyst opalescent crimped sauce dish circa 1907-08; hanging hearts on willow green opalescent pitcher, designed by master glass artist Dave Fetty for the Fenton Connoisseur Collection in 2003; and a Florentine green fan vase circa 1925-28.
The older historical pieces in the Balcony Gallery are from the West Virginia State Museum Collection. The newer pieces in the Lobby Gallery are on loan from the Fenton Art Glass Company of Williamstown, W.Va.
Founded in 1905 by brothers Frank L. and John W. Fenton in a used glass factory building in Martins Ferry, Ohio, the Fenton Art Glass Company initially consisted of the brothers painting decorations on glass blanks from other glass manufacturers. They soon discovered it was difficult to acquire the glass they needed so they began producing their own glassware. The first glass from the new Fenton factory in Williamstown, W.Va. was produced on January 2, 1907.
Fenton ranks among the world’s foremost producers of handmade art glass. It is the largerst manufacturer of handmade colored glass in the United States and is renowned for innovative glass colors as well as hand-painted decorations on pressed and blown glassware.
For more than a century, Fenton has developed new colors and patterns including items enhanced with hand-painted floral decorations and 22k gold accents. In 2005, the company celebrated its 100th anniversary. The firm is now led by third- and fourth-generation Fenton family members who work with more than 400 employees, including skilled glassworkers and decorators.
For more information about the West Virginia’s Gift to the World: Fenton–Handcrafted American Glass Artistry exhibit opening, contact Jacqueline Proctor, deputy commissioner for the Division, at (304) 558-0220. For more information about the exhibit, contact Charles Morris, director of collections and exhibitions for the Division, at (304) 558-0220.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Its administrative offices are located at the Cultural Center in the State Capitol
Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For moreinformation about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
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Photographs available for download. All photographs by Michael Keller, WV Division of Culture and History
036. c. 1909-1912, green Carnival glass No. 1124 Butterfly and Berry pattern pitcher
019. c. 2005, cranberry glass optic lobed candy dish w/ crystal cover and white enameled “Mary Gregory” decoration
025. c. 1925-1926, blue threaded Mosaic inlaid art glass 8" #3028 fan vase
063. c. 1922-1925, Celeste Blue Stretch glass No. 847 eight lobed footed flared bowl, c. 1910-1912, amethyst Carnival glass Grape and Cable pattern bowl,
C. 2002-2007, cobalt blue Carnival glass Persian Medallion pattern bowl
076 c. 1909-1912, green Carnival glass No. 1124 Butterfly and Berry pattern pitcher, c. 1925-1926, blue threaded Mosaic inlaid art glass 8" #3028 fan vase, c. 1922-1925, Celeste Blue Stretch glass No. 847 eight lobed footed flared bowl