gifts

Man with a Passion for Glass

When meeting West Virginia native and glass artist Ron Hinkle you are talking with a craftsman who has spent a life time working in West Virginia glass. A man who is passionate about keeping the tradition alive and educating every one he comes in contact with about its importance to West Virginia history.glass tank with pipe close up

West Virginia was once known as the number one producer of tableware glass and crystal in the United States. Early in the 20th century, Fostoria glass company of Wheeling, West Virginia employed more than 900 workers, making it the largest glass tableware factory in the country.In addition to table wares, factories across the state produced plate-glass for windows, pressed glass bottles,jars and marbles.Fortunately for workers in West Virginia, the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company located one of its plants in Clarksburg in 1916, and the Libbey-Owens-Ford Company established a plant in Charleston in 1916, sustaining the industry in the Mountain State into the 1970’s.  Buy the mid 1950’s Louie Glass in Weston,West Virginia is said to have made over 50% of all the table wear glass in the United States. Even with reduced production caused by the importation  of cheep glass from Mexico and China some companies continue the tradition of hand blown glass in the state.Ron Hinkel in his glass blowing studio 2-17-17

Blenko Glass in Milton,West Virginia is known for its vivid colors of hand blown glass. The  historic business has faced many challenges in its 100 years of production. Ron says “The thing that makes them[Blenko Glass] endearing,is the same thing that makes them struggle.”So today Ron Hinkle works diligently as Vise President to make sure that the history and tradition of West Virginia glass continues into the future. With years of experience in every position in the factory, from bit boy to blower, Ron has a unique view of the factory glass business. His success as a glass artist within his home studio also brings the company a creative way of looking at its historic products.Together these skills work to keep blown glass alive in West Virginia.

blenko glass

vivid colors of Blenko glass over the years

Ron’s fascination for glass began at the age of twelve when he discovered the mysterious qualities of melted glass, melting glass tubes from a chemistry set over his mother’s kitchen stove. Following that interest Ron took a job at a local glass factory while in high school and continued to work  near by,in Weston at the Louie Glass for the following twenty years. Working every job in the factory, Ron learned a wide verity of skills and  soon was experimenting with art glass.Ron found making the intricate designs within paper weights  fascinating. With little money and over 4 years Ron personally built his own glass blowing studio,the holding tank and glass furnace. He refurbished tools and struck out on his own.Ron says,” never make choices that you can’t recover from.” Building and expanding  his art glass business slowly even when at times he was overwhelmed with orders.

Ron Hinkel spinning a dish of glass

Ron Hinkle spins a blue candy dish at his home studio in Buckhannon, WV.

Child's Vase 2

Beautiful examples of Ron’s Work available on his website Child’s Vase 

Ron Hinkle bottels

Small potion bottles available on-line at http://www.ronhinkleglass.com.  

 

The quality of the glass products that Ron creates has made his work collectible around the county and is available in 37 states and at times internationally. In 2005 the company changed names and simply became Ron Hinkle Glass. His work has appeared numerous times on the West Virginia’s Governor’s Christmas tree and the Christmas Peace Tree at the White House in Washington D.C. He is the creator of “While You Were Sleeping” a massive glass installation in the grand hall of the Culture of the WV State Capitol Complex that was then moved to its permanent home at the Archaeological  Complex at Moundsville, West Virginia. He has been written about extensively and gained many collectors over the years.Ron Hinkel display moundsville

Ron Hinkle represents what is best about West Virginia  Artists in so many ways. He is a man of faith that has taken a historic craft that at one time incorporated 474 factories in our state and brought it to the community in a new way. He took time to learn from past masters and kept our culture and history alive.He is currently passing those skills on to Aaron Harvey,studio assistant and co-worker at Blenko. He is a family man who is welcoming to every one he meets and he shares his passion with all of us.

Aaron Harvey assisting at Ron Hinkle glass

Arron Harvey learning about glass from Ron Hinkle at his home studio and newest employee at Blenko glass as designer of new products.

 

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Art, Buckhannon West Virginia, gifts, Upshur County West Virginia, West Virginia artists | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

Making a gift from the heart

My sweet little grand-daughter turned 4 this month.If any of you have small children in your family you understand the problem with giving them gifts. It seems that small children attract people who love to buy gifts. As they grow older the pile of gifts slowly shrinks until at 19 or 20 you are lucky if your own parents remember your birthday. So as this young lady is so loved I had to really think over what we wanted to give her. I didn’t want to add to the pile of toys that she already had and some how I wanted to give her something that would last past her fickle little girl loves of Minnie Mouse and the movie Frozen. So after talking with her mother and my husband we came up with the idea of making her a toy box.

We wanted to make one that hopefully would stay with her until she at least reached her preteen years. So while I was out-of-town Tom was able to get the supplies and assemble the box portion of the gift. Then when I returned home I painted the box with several coats of white enamel paint.

white toy box freshly painted

white toy box freshly painted

I talked with my son and his wife about what they wanted on the toy box. I could get stencils and put images of Disney Characters or even just put a decal on the box but I quickly realized that they thought that a painting of a horse would be something she would grown into and that it would be so nice for her room. Well that opened up a whole new idea for me.

I do like to paint and have a back ground in art, but the one thing I have never painted or even tried to paint was horses. It is hard to believe but they are my greatest fear in all the subjects I could attempt. I spent years raising, grooming, feeding and caring for loads of horses. I have spent hours photographing them but never ever drawing or painting them. I have no idea why.. I just never thought I could do them justice. They are so amazing and powerful just thinking about it I get over whelmed. So how do you over come a fear that has lasted over 20 years? You have a 4-year-old tell you ” I want ponies MaMa” and you just jump in and hope to not drowned.

So after a few days I found what I thought would look good. No ” My Little Pony” stuff on this box.I got approval from mom and dad and started the hours of covering the front of this toy box into a horse-box.

blocked in colors of horse toy box

blocked in colors of horse toy box

The process took about 10 hours from sketching to final clear coat. Several times I thought I had a total mess on my hands as I progressed through the layers of paint. I would paint a while and let it dry and walk away for a few days and try another coat and another fix. Each time as I sat at my kitchen table with the huge box on top of it I would think. Horses? Why Horses? I have no experience at this and I am sure it will look like I have no idea what am doing.

final coat of paint close up or horse toy box

final coat of paint close up or horse toy box

So the finale painting will pass as for a 4 years old toy box. I can still see my mistakes but, I am so glad that some how a 4-year-old was able to make me stretch my skills. She was able to make me face a fear I have had for years. I am so glad that we made this gift for her and that maybe she will keep it and some day share it with her little girl. It is truly a gift from my heart and made me so happy to see her love it !

Paige A Powers 4th birthday

Paige A Powers 4th birthday

 Happy Birthday Paige you Ma Ma thinks the world of you!

Categories: Art, Birthday, Family, gifts, heirlooms, Horses, Paige | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Think Handmade Gifts or Support an Artist This Year

   With the holidays almost here I wanted to share an idea with all of you.

Five hands thinking

Five hands thinking

    I love to surround myself with people who also understand this idea and  make things. It is with pleasure that I share my life with artist of every kind. Most are people I have known for years and have struggled to have a voice for their passions. Most work other jobs to support themselves and pay for their supplies. So while thinking about what you want your gifts to say to those you give them to, think about supporting an artist. If you are not able to make something handmade yourself then let a person who has a wonderful skill help.

These are just a few of the artist that I know and support. They are just part of a wonderful culture of local artist that need all of us to keep working. It is through the arts that we teach our children that there is more to the world then what we all see at the huge chain stores and the value of things that are hand-made. Add a hand-made items to you gift giving this year and open up the door to a conversation about who made it and how. If we are lucky we maybe able to teach our children about how reclaiming, recycling works or about how to learn a new skill or how a tradition continues from our past.

  My brother William Lowrey ( Bill) painted and carved any piece of wood he could find. I still remember having a wooden skate board that he craved and painted while he was in High School. Over the years he as grown as an artist and become a master furniture builder and sculptor in the Denver Colorado area. He has spent years reclaiming lost lumber to make into something new. A favorite piece of mine is a Reclaimed Redwood table that he made a few years back it is the perfect balance of beauty and usefulness.  He also makes sculptures from reclaimed marble and wood. Many of his works are about balance and texture with a very modern flair.

my brother Bill Lowrey

my brother Bill Lowrey

reclaimed redwood  coffee table

reclaimed redwood coffee table

reclaimed marble wall sulpture light-dark

top of reclaimed redwood end table

top of reclaimed redwood end table

Contact him at his website or through his on-line gallery, http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/bill-lowrey-art.html.

   My life long friend and photographer Alex Smits of Seattle Washington is “The King” of Girls-n-Guns photography. Thiers are many great photographers but he has taken his subject-matter to a new level. He has single-handedly removed many of the stereo types about the idea of woman and guns. What once had a fetish following is now a creative statement with a back bone of great skill and creative force. He makes beautiful calendars, cards and enlargements of his favorite subject matter.

alex shooting on the beach

Rear view Jenny by Alex Smits

Rear view Jenny by Alex Smits

Cheryl at Fireplace

Jenny white Sweater

Jenny white Sweater

 Contact him at his website,http://www.alexsmits.com/ or his face book page.

  My friend and mad knitter Jennifer at Lavishcraft in Denver, Colorado has been on her journey to bring hand knitted items from the back of your grandmas closet to the front line of fashion for years. She is a power house of  unique design with a strong understanding of line and texture making the most simple items into detailed works of art. She is also able to do what the chain stores can’t and that is customise her work for you body or your needs.

Purple scarf

Purple scarf

Jennifer with cape

Jennifer with cape

Vault Coul gray

You can contact her at her Esty shop at,http://www.etsy.com/shop/lavishcraft?ref=si_shop.

 This year my family is focusing on making many of our holiday gifts and in my case I have made hundreds of jars of jelly that I will gift to family and friends in the tradition of my Grandmother and Father in Law. Hope every one likes the Apple Cider Jelly this year! What is it that you want to say with your gifts this year. Share something Hand Made !

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

Categories: furniture, gifts, Holidays, Knitting, Photos | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

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