Festival foundation donates $1,000 to Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum
In more than four decades spent as a glassblower, Bob Allen has worked in his fair share of what he referred to as “glass houses.”
One by one, he saw the factories close.
It's a big reason why Allen said he is excited to exhibit his craft at the 27th annual Mt. Pleasant Glass & Ethnic Festival scheduled to take place Sept. 27-29.
“I kind of like to see the glass industry preserved, and any place that wants to keep that up, I'm all for it,” said Allen, 62, of Moundsville, W.Va.
Allen — who in the past worked for Lenox Crystal in the mid-1980s and L.E. Smith Glass in the late 1990s — will appear as the primary attraction of the Oglebay Institute's “Hot Glass Road Show.”
Since 2004, he has worked at the institute in Wheeling, W.Va., while also maintaining a private business out of his home called Allen Art Glass, he said.
“In August, I'll be in the business 44 years,” Allen said.
Borough Manager Jeff Landy, who in 1986 co-founded the festival with borough Mayor Jerry Lucia, recently donated $1,000 on behalf of the festival's foundation to the Mt. Pleasant Glass Musuem to help finance Allen's appearance.
The Hot Glass Road Show booth will be located next to the museum booth at the festival, Landy said.
“Every year, the festival foundation accepts applications from nonprofit groups for the opportunity to receive a foundation grant,” Landy said. “With the glass museum offering to highlight their museum exhibit at the festival, we thought that was the best choice for the money this year.”
He credits museum President Cassandra Vivian, along with Harley N. Trice and Anne Madarasz, both members of museum's board of directors, with joining forces to bring Allen — and a glassblowing presence — back to the festival.
“We went to the festival committee and said the glass museum wanted to participate and find a glassblower, and they were pleased with that,” Vivian said.
The museum's board of directors is fortunate to count among its own those with many industry contacts, she said.
In April, Trice was vending blown glass from Western Pennsylvania at the 59th annual Oglebay Institute's Antiques Show & Sale when he met Christin Byrum, the institute's director of museums, who agreed to send Allen to the festival.
“They employ two glassblowers there, and (Allen) is the senior glassblower,” said Trice, the great-great-grandson of James Bryce, the founder of Bryce Brothers Company Inc.
The money donated by the festival foundation will be used to compensate Allen for his appearance on the Saturday and Sunday of the event.
With the help of his wife, Francee, Allen said he will craft various glass items at the festival using a portable, propane-powered oven which reaches temperatures of 2,100 degrees Farenheit.
“We make paper weights, little vases, pitchers with handles, little spun bowls, an we'll show how far glass can stretch, things like that,” Allen said.
As a gesture of appreciation for the museum's effort in acquiring Allen's services, the foundation will also finance Allen's appearance on the festival's first day.
“We're helping them because they're helping us,” Landy said.
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.