Karl and I have shared a great history with Fenton Art Glass for over 25 years. Both of our family businesses had carried Fenton glass independently before we married and merged the stores and eventually became Kaleidoscopes To You. But that’s another chapter.
The chapter being written at Fenton currently is one of big change as they transition from major glass production into bead making.
Karl and I had a magical visit in 1999. We took the public tour and spent some time in the gift shop and then we introduced ourselves as a dealer. Then Scott Fenton spent some time showing us the new furnaces and sharing some of his history. He started out sweeping floors around the furnaces and then worked with hot glass during college.
We also were allowed to see the machinists at work as they create new moulds for glassmaking. Each mould was handtooled and crafted from solid steel to withstand the heat of the glass. A quiet secret is the basement. It is filled with vast amounts of steel moulds; not just crafted by Fenton craftsmen but also acquired from other glass factories that have closed along the Ohio River valley. Stacks and stacks of moulds all tagged and cataloged…..
Then we were escorted up to Bill Fenton’s office. Bill was serving as Chairman and Frank was Historian during 1999. Frank stopped in briefly, but we spent half an hour listening to Bill’s stories and learning about the major gift shows and their new efforts on QVC. Shelley Fenton Ash also poked in for a moment as she wanted to check on a prototype piece for QVC that she picked up off of the shelf.
Bill told us the story of selling a piece of cranberry glass to Avon for a Christmas catalog. Now Bill could have taken a dozen of these pieces home from the factory. But no, he orders 2 pieces from his local Avon lady! Talk about integrity and wanting to see his products succeed as well as everyone connected to Fenton!
Bill was also interested in kaleidoscopes. I took off my Dean Krause Oneness ring and handed it to him. Being delightfully old school, he exclaimed “What cute girls in bikinis!”
As we left Bill’s office, our main sales contact told us how impressed Bill must have been. It was 11:45. He always left at 11:15 so he could have lunch at home with his wife and watch the Young and the Restless!
We have always been proud to represent Fenton Art Glass here at Kaleidoscopes To You. It is with sadness and respect that we have received our last shipment of figurines from Fenton. We have adapted and changed our business through the years and we acknowledge and respect Fenton for having the strength and foresight to change and adapt. In fact, back in 1999, our website had a dancing telephone icon and our toll free number. We didn’t even have internet access at work yet!
At Kaleidoscopes To You, we are able to expand our glass paperwieght and figurine offerings with other glass studios. Feel free to browse Glass Eye Studio and Orient and Flume Art Glass on our website for lovely gift ideas.