Tuesday, September 1, 2015

You Should Go......To Kokomo

Tour begins outside the glass factory


  If you love glass, you should go to Kokomo, Indiana and visit the Kokomo Opalescent Glass Factory.
  This factory has been in continuous operation since 1888 at its present location at 1310 South Market Street.  They give daily tours but be sure to check their schedule to start planning your tour. You will be pleasantly surprised.
  On October 6, 1886 natural gas was discovered in a corn field in Kokomo, Indiana and the Indiana Gas Company was formed to supply natural gas to the surrounding area.  Charles Edward Henry was a glass chemist and in 1883, he formed  Henry Art Glass in New Rochelle, New York.  The factory made glass buttons, opalescent glass rods, and some novelties items.  Charles heard about the natural gas discovery and he traveled to Kokomo, met with local officials, and formed the Opalescent Glass Works.
Glass Buttons
Glass Button
Glass Button
  Within a month, he moved to Kokomo, brought a house and started building the factory.  On November 13, 1888, the seven pot furnace started producing molten glass.
Glass Furnace
Furnace and glass mixture
Hauling extra glass
Dumping extra glass
  The main production was sheet glass that was made by mixing up to seven different colors of glass and then squeezing the molten glass into thin sheets with a wringer type device.  By November 1888, Louis Tiffany received the first shipment of sheet glass from the Kokomo Opalescent Glass Works.
Pouring molten glass
Mixing different colors of glass
Pressing mixed colored sheet glass
   Production was in full swing by January, 1889 with 50 people working around the clock.  The Kokomo Opalescent Glass Works exhibited their glass at the Paris Exposition World Fair and won a Gold Medal. They received thousands of dollars of  orders for sheet glass.  The factory was a success but Charles Henry's problems became significant.  He had many unpaid bills and a lien was filed against the factory.  Mr. Henry sold the factory to his son-in-law, developed a drinking problem, was jailed, and spent the remaining 2 years of his life  in the Indianapolis Insane Asylum.  He died there at the age of 46.
Warehouse of  colored sheet glass
Warehouse of colored sheet glass

Tiffany stained glass window at Corning Glass Museum
  The Opalescent Glass Works company was sold to three local businessmen  whose descendants are still involved with the business today.  Louis Tiffany purchased over 10,000 pounds of glass from the factory for use in the manufacture of beautiful stained glass windows along with others, such as, John LaFarge and J Lamb.
  Today the company still operates using the tried and true methods it used when the factory was first built.  They have many of the old glass recipes and the original texture presses that were used when Tiffany was purchasing glass from them. Many antique shops and museums commission specific glass colors to restore lamps and stained glassed windows.
Powder colored additives
Powder color additives
Single color recycled glass
  The Kokomo Opalescent Works also sell stained glass sheets, hand mixed art glass sheets,  cast glass, sheet glass, rondels,  custom glass and blown glass items.  Their gift shop offers a wide assortment of all of these items.  Visit soon.  You will have a wonderful experience.
Glass medallion in gift shop
Sale pieces in finishing room
Sale pieces in finishing room
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