FEATURE STORIES

MAKING GLASS IN A UNIQUE HUNTINGTON, WV AREA TOURIST ATTRACTION

IMG_9105 webThis sight greets all tourists when they enter the Blenko Glass Visitor Center.

The temperature required to create beautiful glass items like those pictured above, stained glass mosaics, or glass panes ranges around 2000 degrees. If you’d like, you’re invited to stop in and see for yourself exactly how its done. Should the temperature drift another 150 to 200 degrees higher, it all will melt. This 130-year-plant in Milton, West Virginia, just east of the Huntington Mall is one-of-a-kind in the United States. There are one or maybe two plants that still make glass panes and textured glass panels, but the Blenko Glass Company still makes all the beautiful blown glass items that decorators covet. They also do stained glass, glass panes, and glass panels.

Craftsman's Touch

 The craftsman’s touch,  the art of shaping blazing hot glass fresh out of the oven! Blenko Glass began in 1893 when Engishman Bill Blenko got everything started, according to Dean Six, plant manager.  Several special events are put on at the factory each year.  

 FEED SACKS AND THEIR PLACE IN THIS REGION “BACK IN THE DAY”

A retired Pike County English teacher, Cathy Bartley, has written a sweet children’s book called Feed Sack Rich. Her book describes a large crowd of women in the Pike County community of Marrowbone who would gather early Thursday morning for the regular shipment of animal feed.  The food was important to the families there, but so were the eye-catching sacks they were packed in.  There was a good variety of prints and patterns on these bags. Sacks for sugar, flour, hams, sausages, seed, and fertilizer took over for barrels and boxes around 1857.

Remember Older Products With
Practical Benefits? Feed Sacks,
Free Dishes, and Collectible Containers

From the turn of the century, lasting until the eary 60s Americans would routinely re-use product containers, and shop for popular products containing free gifts such as dishes. Peanut butter cans, yes tin cans originally, were saved. People would save cans that once contained legendary Prince Albert tobacco and some would place them atop their mailboxes to let the mailman know to pick up outgoing mail. Flour companies serving eastern Kentucky would put new plates inside their sacks of flour, as housewives collected the entire sets over time. One of the most remembered extra-value items collected by everyday citizens was feed sacks. Feed companies selling bags of middlings, made of finely ground wheat and other ingredients and fed to young pigs and hogs required tightly woven cloth to seal in the contents, Over time the feed companies realized that attractive fabrics that families could later use to make make numerous items like clothes, quilts.

feed sack feature

An old photo showing the beautiful patterns, unfortunately in black and white.

A retired Pike County English teacher named Cathy Bartley has written a sweet children’s book called Feed Sack Rich. Her book describes a large crowd of women in the Pike County community of Marrowbone who would gather early Thursday morning for the regular shipment of animal feed.  The food was important to the families there, but so were the eye-catching sacks they were packed in.  There was a good variety of prints and patterns on these bags. Sacks for sugar, flour, hams, sausages, seed, and fertilizer took over for barrels and boxes around 1857.

IMG_0223

Author Cathy Bartley knows about the
wonderful blessing of feed
sacks in her grade school days.

They were all picked out by this group of customers as they would strive to get the better of the feed sack patterns of the day ahead of a neighbor. In a few areas served by different feed suppliers, the sacks were not as elaborate, but were still made of the finely woven muslin fabric that was a bone white or nearly ivory color. The feed company would print their name on the feed sacks, but with a good bleaching, all you had left was the desired fabric to have the neighborhood seamstress turn into a usable garment for a quarter or a bit more. Medium florals, large florals, polka dots, stripes, plaids, solids and ornate designs were manufactured. Themed prints for gardening and kitchens were common, along with hankie and border print feed sacks as well. Some feed sack prints were designed for specific seasons and months, and there were even prints highlighting different geographic areas. Pop culture was not ignored by the feed sack fabric manufacturers either — it’s possible to find Disney-themed feed sacks, including Alice in Wonderland, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. A Gone with the Wind design was even created and well circulated.! The fabric from these bags was used to make clothing, quilts, pillowcases, diapers,  and items such as curtains, dish towels and aprons, up until the early 1960s, when most of the fabric bags were replaced with paper ones. 1850s stuff shipped in barrels and boxes. Then plain fabric feed sacks began to appear, for flour, seed, sugar, flour, hams, sausages, and fertilizer. Materials were available in U. S., U. K. and Canada Many patterns were specific to a region, and would be seasonal. Gone with the wind  Disney characters, etc. The beloved feed sacks finally went away in the sixties replaced by paper sacks.

FEED SACK RICH IS AVAILABLE BY REQUEST AT 606-432-4963  or for more information by e-mail at cathybartley@suddenlink.net

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