Fenton Art Glass

by Ferrill J. Rice
Glass Review - August 1986

What is "Art Glass"? I'm sure all of us have seen or heard a variety of definitions and I'm sure all of us have our own definition. Ray and Lee Grover give a good definition, as far as I'm concerned, in the Introduction of their Art Glass Nouveau book. They say the book illustrates "mostly individually hand made, no two shapes or colors being absolutely identical" glass. This, to me, sums up the description of "Art" glass.

Over the 79 plus years the Fenton Art Glass Co. has been making glass (81 years in business) this company has produced some of the Fenton Art Glass items finest glass fitting the above description. In previous articles I have described some of it. The cover of this month's issue (shown at right) pictures five of these "Art" glass pieces from The Fenton Art Glass Co. unlike a great many items that have been produced for a "full line" of sales, these pieces were experimental, one-of-a-kind and were never named or did they have color names assigned to them. It is therefore difficult to describe each, but with Mr. Frank Fenton's help, I will try.

The first piece on the left is roughly 5½" tall; the color very close to the Karnak red made by The Fenton Co. about 1925, It has blue "Hearts and vines" known as "Hanging Hearts". Made ca: 1975 -- it is marked Fenton. Who made the piece is unknown, but it probably was not made by Robert Barber (more on this artist next issue).

The next piece is an opal glass iridized with amethyst hanging hearts surrounded by a pulled feather of amethyst, green and yellow. This piece, blown in a mould, was made as an experimental glass prior to the 1981 Convention of The Fenton Art Glass Collectors of America, Inc. Again we only know that a Fenton worker made it.

Piece #3 is marked 1976. The base glass is Rosalene and it has Blue and Sepia hanging hearts and Vines. The artist is unknown.

As you can see the fourth piece is much larger than the other four pieces. Approximately eleven inches tall it is a heavy but well balanced piece of glass, a great example of the work of Robert Barber. A gold ruby cased piece it is covered with opalescent glass. Inside is what might be called "a chambered Nautilus" but Mr. Fenton says that it is not a real or proper name for it. Made ca: 1976 it is marked Fenton and dated 1976.

The last piece was again made prior to the 1981 Convention and blown in the same mould as piece No. 2. However, the opal core of this piece is covered with a very, very deep red glass. It is iridized and has dark blue hanging hearts and pulled feathers of dark blue and a lighter glass (probably an opal).

I think you will agree all five pieces are lovely examples of the creations of the artist who work of have worked for The Fenton Art Glass Company.