Saturday, March 26, 2011

Kokomo Opalescent Glass field trip

We had a delightful field trip a week ago to a place called Kokomo Opalescent Glass. So much so that we might have put it on our list (that hasn't been started yet) of places to take anyone who ever comes to visit. Some of their history and info is on their website, and there is a short video, taken at their factory, of some of the process here. The pictures I took don't really do it justice, and I could never begin to share the wealth of information that the lady who did our tour shared with us, but will try to pass on a bit of what we learned. This is one of 6 places left in America that make art glass (they supplied the Tiffany Company for a period at the beginning of their operation in the 1800's).

This is the furnace where the ingredients are melted into glass. It runs 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and has to be replaced every 25 years. She told us much more about it, all very interesting, but, a.) I don't remember it all at this point, and b.) would be here all night writing it out if I did.This man, along with two others (each has a different color), gets a scoop full of the melted glass and carries it while bouncing it around in the scoop so that it all cools at a uniform rate on the way over to the table ...where another man is waiting to gently mix (swirl) the three colors together, and then feed the big glob of glass through large rollers that flatten it into a sheet, and create a texture on one side of the glass. They have the capability of making millions of combinations of colors, textures, and thicknesses. Once rolled out, it is fed through a machine that slowly cools it down to 140F. At that point it is cut into sheets by two men (as you can see in the video if you check it out) and this is an end piece showing what that glowing red blob in the picture above looks like when cooled and in sheet form.In the area behind her, a man was packing crates of glass to be shipped out all over the world. There were several crates ready to be shipped out to England, Japan, Canada, and elsewhere. Here is some glass in the storage area:These are just some of the shades and variations of white:She showed the kids how to cut glass. The man working in this room makes glass paperweights, including intricately created glass sea creatures and other designs.This is one of the glass blowers who work there. Being one of the tallest, I wasn't able to get close enough to get the best pictures of this process, but the kids all seemed to like watching this kind of glass work, too.

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