Upshur County West Virginia

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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

All things Strawberry, The Strawberry Festival 2016

So here in Buckhannon, West Virginia, every May we have a week-long festival dedicated to the Strawberry. At one time Strawberries in West Virginia were a large cash crop and it was great way to celebrate the spring. Now 75 years later…. there are less homegrown strawberries but the festival is larger than ever. This year Christopher was even part of three days of  the week-long festival events.

The spirit of the Strawberry Festival really found my family this year. Our excitement grew when Christopher became part of the Royal Court. He rode on the Strawberry Queen’s float with other 1st graders picked for this role from all the elementary schools in the county. He was also the King’s crown bearer for the coronation of the Queen. It was so much fun to see him in a tux being part of all the pageantry.

Christopher waiting backstage for the Coronation 75th Strawberry Queen 2016

Christopher waiting backstage for the Coronation 75th Strawberry Queen 2016

The week starts with the Coronation ceremony practice, with lots of photos and trips to the stage trying to get everything timed right before the afternoon Coronation event. Then there are 6 days of parades, live music events, strawberry food sales and outdoor activities like a 5k run and a canoe race down a local river.

The Strawberry Court waiting on the Queen to arrive

The Strawberry Court waiting on the Queen to arrive. Christopher is holding king’s crown 4th little boy to the left.

Strawberry Queen 2016

Strawberry Queen 2016

The following days are a blur,  4 parades, carnival rides, craft sales and lots of silly contest.

WVU's Mountaineer mascot takes time to walk in the parade

WVU’s Mountaineer Mascot takes time to walk in the parade

 

ROTC drill team passing Friendly Way during the Strawberry Festival

ROTC drill team passing Friendly Way during the Strawberry Festival

 

Christopher and friends riding the first of two floats for the Strawberry festival 2016

Christopher and friends riding the first of two floats for the Strawberry festival 2016

 

Mules pulling a mini pony express stagecoach

Mules pulling a mini pony express stagecoach

 

Sea of people at the Strawberry Festival Carnival 32016

Sea of people at the Strawberry Festival Carnival 2016

 

Chocolate drizzle funnel cake at the Strawberry Festival 2016

Chocolate drizzle funnel cake at the Strawberry Festival 2016

We ate lots of fair food, ice cream and strawberries over the course of the week and had a great time until my surgery interrupted the schedule of events. I was lucky to get to spend both nights watching Christopher pass by on his float ( Thursday and Saturday). I could only watch about an hour of the Grand Feature Parade,on Saturday before getting too tired from the surgery the day before.

As we headed home Thursday night ( the first of the parade nights). Tom and I both noticed that a 10 pm the carnival was still going strong and families walked the streets with stuffed toys and corn dogs on sticks. Friends stood in groups all along main street talking.Old men stood next to their classic cars in front of mains street restaurants talking while and wives eat ice cream in the front seat with the top down. Something seemed different  to me that night, it was like our childhood was happening all over again. It was the best feeling I have had in years. My  young son had somehow reminded me of what it was like to feel young again. We eat fair food and heard live music and walked back to the car long after dark under the street lamps. It was good to be part of the Strawberry Festival again!

Categories: Buckhannon West Virginia, carnival, Country life, Fairs and Festivals, family fun, Strawberry Festival, Upshur County West Virginia, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

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