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Through the glass of Ohio’s history

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By Wayne Lazarus on March 16th, 2010

Categories: Linda's Travel Articles

Ohio is almost synonymous with glass making in the U. S. Depending on what kind of glass you favor — from art to hand-cut crystal to novelty glass, you can find shopping, museums and exhibits in every quadrant of the state.

South west of Akron, you’ll find both history and creativity at the Canal Fulton Glassworks gallery (a little to the southwest of Akron.) Housed in one of the oldest buildings in the county (built around 1814) the gallery sits along the Tuscarawas River and overlooks the Market Street Stone Arch bridge. You can take a tour of the building, or take a class in glass-making to create flowers, paperweights, beads or an original design of your own. The gallery features only Ohio artists and has over 2,000 unique hand-made items.Canal Fulton

Down I-77 to Cambridge, stop at the National Museum of Cambridge Glass to learn about this company which made glass here from 1902 until 1958. Nearby is the Degenhart Glass and Paperweight Museum.

Just over an hour west is the Ohio Glass Museum in Lancaster, which has exhibits of glass made around the state as well as the numerous companies that made glass in the area. North of I-77 from Lancaster is Newark, where you can visit the National Heisey Glass Museum to see some of the processes this company used. It was started by a Civil War veteran here in 1896.

In Columbus, you’ll want to see the Chihuly Illuminated exhibit (through July 4) at the Columbus Museum of Art, especially the 56-foot garden of glass, Mille Fiori. The Franklin Park Conservatory and Chihuly Collection has a significant Chihuly collection on permanent display as well as its Hot Shop which features daily demonstrations by master glass blowers. Pieces created in the Hot Shop are available at the Botanica, the conservatory’s gift shop. Also in Columbus, stop in at the Glass Axis, a non-profit glass art studio and gallery. And don’t miss the Hawk Galleries with its exhibits of fine art glass masters.Persian-Ceiling

Southwest of Columbus, in Middletown, is one of the oldest continually operating stained glass studios in the state. The Beau Verre/Riordan Stained Glass Studio specializes in custom beveled, etched, painted and fused glass. There are also glass blowing demonstrations and tours.

On your way north to the Glass City of Toledo, you’ll want to make a side trip over to Tiffin to see Crystal Traditions, where visitors can see sand carving, acid polishing, glass blowing or the cutting of crystal by hand. The factory carries on the tradition of the Tiffin Glass Company, started here in 1882. It also owns the Hawkes Rich Cut Glass Works, another 1880 company from Corning, N.Y. Just a few blocks away on S. Washington St is the Tiffin Glass Museum, with over 2000 pieces of Tiffin Glass on display. Near Tiffin is Fostoria, where the Glass Heritage Gallery specializes in ten of the 13 glass plants that operated here from 1897 through 1920.

Finally, finish your tour at the Toledo Museum of Art’s Glass Pavilion, a 74,000 square foot building with over 5,000 pieces of art. (The pavilion itself is a work of art, having received numerous architecture awards.)

(Photo of gallery courtesy Canal Fulton Glassworks. Persian Ceiling, Franklin Park Conservatory by Terry Rishel, courtesy Franklin Park Conservatory. Used with permission.)

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