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Handmade Glass

Updated on April 10, 2008

Handle a piece of handmade glass and compare it to a piece of machine-made glass. You will notice the differences right away. Look closely at handmade glass. You will see tiny bubbles, variations in color, and sometimes variations in shape.

These variations make each piece of handmade glass unique. It gives the glass a personality that is lacking in machine-made glass. But how much variation is "personality" and where do you begin to say that a piece is simply flawed?

I offer cobalt blue glassware for sale and I'm constantly faced with that question. I absolutely have to make sure that the products I sell are good enough to associate with my name. But most of the glass I sell is handmade. Where do I draw the line?

Sometimes, the line is easy to fix. A chip, a rough surface that should be smooth, huge bubbles (unless it is bubble glass), scratches, and pronounced streaks are easy to identify.

But how do I determine whether a single bubble is character or a flaw? How much variation in height between pieces that should match should I tolerate? How much variation in color should there be?

For me, the answer to the question is whether a characteristic draws negative attention from me upon inspection. That makes the call quite personal and subjective. Does the characteristic detract from the overall piece in normal use? That's probably a more useful criteria for consumers. But since I have to represent the desires of all of my potential customers, I'm a bit more picky.

When you shop for handmade glass, whether it is mouth blown or hand-pressed, enjoy the differences you find from piece to piece. If you find a variation, ask yourself whether that characteristic really detracts. If not, then consider it part of the unique personality of that piece. In our computer-control, mass-production world, it may be one of the relatively few handmade pieces you find in your home.

Handmade Cobalt Blue Glass

American Handmade Cobalt Blue Glass Bowl
American Handmade Cobalt Blue Glass Bowl

American Glass Companies

The number of American glass companies has dwindled over the years. Changing consumer tastes, the development of machine-made glass, and foreign competition has reduced the number of American glass companies that make handmade glass down to just a few.

Mosser Glass, a small company in Ohio, still makes handmade glass today Many of the molds that the company uses date back decades and were previously owned by Viking, LG Write, and Cambridge Glass. With just 30 employees, Mosser Glass is not a mass-producer. Their products are heirloom quality.

LE Smith Glass Company was founded in 1907 and still operates in Pennsylvania. LE Smith began making cobalt glass pieces (and several other colors including black) in the mid-1920s. I've ordered some of their most beautiful designs in cobalt glass. I should be able to offer them at Laurie's Cobalt World by early summer.

Blenko Glass Company, located in West Virginia, introduced a water bottle in the 1930's that is still one of their most popular sellers. Blenko specializes in hand-blown glass, a specialty of the West Virginia region.

How long these glass companies will be with us, it is hard to say. I'd hate to think that all of our American handmade glass companies would go the way of the dinosaur. They are a part of our history and our culture.

Handmade American Cobalt Blue Glass

Cobalt Blue Glass Covered Butter Dish
Cobalt Blue Glass Covered Butter Dish


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    • profile image

      LJF Wolffe 

      10 years ago

      Wow! Blue cobalt glass is beautiful, isn't it? And I often find myself falling in love with "slightly irregular" pieces; some times that's the charm of them. I hope one day to be able to afford one of yours!

    • commentonthis7 profile image


      10 years ago

      Welcom to hubpages


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