Summit Art Glass Company

by: John Valentine

The story of this glass factory began in 1972 when Russell Vogelsong and his wife JoAnn formed the Summit Art Glass Company. They purchased their first mould and kept adding others, one at a time, until they had a line of about forty-five items including solid glass figures and antique reproductions in full size and miniatures. It was in 1978 when Summit had purchased about 50 additional moulds from Joseph St. Clair of Elwood, IN this was the time when Mr. St. Clair decided to retire from pressing glass and devote most of his time in making paperweights.

During the 1970's until mid May of 1984, Summit would take their moulds to other glass companies to have their glassware made, and then sell them through their showroom that was attached to their house. They sold their glass through mail order and through wholesale to dealers around the country.

Melanie DollThen in August of 1980 Summit started to expand into "limited editions." Starting first with a doll named "Melanie." Summit had Island Mold Company of Wheeling, WV cast the mould for them from the Cambridge Glass Company Dresden Lady figurine - but only on a much smaller scale. The "Melanie" doll was made in 24 different color additions and then the mould was destroyed. The glass was made by the Mosser Glass Company of Cambridge, OH. The Melanie Doll pictured to the left.

Oscar The Lion
Oscar the Lion

Following the production of the Melanie doll, Summit started with their next limited edition with the Oscar the Lion, theClown Elephant Clown Elephant, and the Little Women series. When each of these finished their runs the moulds were also destroyed. Russ felt that this was one way to protect the value of each limited edition. Of course each of these limited editions were made with Summit's moulds but pressed by other glass factories.

The first limited edition that was pressed at Summit Art Glass was "Precious Children", this was a kneeling little boy and girl. From this time forward the glass was pressed by Summit Art Glass Company.

In just a few short months after the factory had opened its doors, they purchased about 80 moulds from the Westmoreland Glass Company and then in December of 1984 several more moulds from Imperial Glass were added. Most of the moulds that was acquired from Imperial were moulds that Imperial bought from Cambridge Glass Company back when Cambridge went of business in 1957. Most of the moulds had never been used since that time.

In the beginning when Summit had first started their own glass factory they knew they had to find experienced glass workers. The Vogelsongs were lucky and found a family of glass workers who had many years of experience working at the Imperial Glass Company. The McConnell family had relocated and started working with Summit Art Glass making glassware.

Jim McConnell was the gatherer; his brother Don was the presser; Nancy (Don's wife) carried the glass to the fire polisher and then Don Sr. (Jim & Don's father) carried the glass into the lehr. Russ commented. That he was proud to have people working for him that has the ability to press anything from a salt dip to an 8 1/2" Swan.
Picture to the left: [ Don McConnell is pressing. In the back Jim McConnell gathers. Joseph Lord in the foreground.]
Working in sales was Janet Thompson, who would also do all the inspecting of the glass and the inventory, Elizabeth Lord (Joan's mom) and JoAnn Vogelsong. Then when it came to keeping the machinery working and helping wherever he was needed was Joan's dad Joseph Lord.

The Summit Art Glass trade mark that is used on some items is a "V" in a circle. This trade mark has been added to some of the moulds, but most of the Westmoreland, Imperial and Cambridge moulds still bear their original trade marks. Russ said he would like to eventually add his trade mark to each mould.

Below I have included some pictures of what a day is like at the Summit Art Glass Company.

Russ Cleaning a mould. A DAY AT SUMMIT ART GLASS

8:00 AM - 4:00 PM / Glass is pressed. Gift shop is open, and the morning hours are for inspecting the glass, and then counted and orders are packed.

2:30 PM - 3:30 PM / Mix the Batch. The color as an example will be Cobalt Blue. The ingredients calls for 500 pounds of sand, soda, whitting, sodium nitrate, borax, pot carbonate and cobalt coloring - black cobalt oxide and manganese carbid. The batch is loaded into the mixer along with cullet (broken cobalt pieces) and mixed for about 1/2 hour.

4:30 PM - 5:00 PM / Load The Batch wagon

6:00 PM - 8:00 PM / Dinner

8:30 PM - 10:00 PM / Back to the factory to decide which moulds will be used the following day. Then each mould must be inspected and cleaned.

2:00 AM - 3:00 AM / Back to the factory to check the tank and the glass consistency.

6:30 AM - 7:30 AM / Unload the lehr of glass made the day before. Get the moulds out and ready to be used by heating them up in the lehr.

summit7.jpg (31063 bytes)
Russ shoveling the batch into the mixer.

summit8.jpg (31027 bytes)
Russ is pressing while Nancy McConnell gets
ready to carry the glass to the glassor.

summit9.jpg (24909 bytes)
Joseph Lord is using a small lever to keep
a footed salt from tilting.

summit10.jpg (24194 bytes)
Don McConnell, Sr. is putting glass into
the lehr.

summit12.jpg (34523 bytes)
Russ inspecting a bevy of Cambridge mould
swans that came off the lehr.

Summit is still in the glass business today. Still making glass from the original moulds that they had got over time and some moulds which they had made.

Another view on the Summit Art Glass Company as told by Mr. Jabe Tarter.

by: Jabe Tarter

This is a picture of a paper label another way that you may see Summit Art Glass trade marked.








Photos & Articles copyright 2008 John Valentine. The photos,
articles and guides are intended for the education and
enjoyment of Carnival Glass collector enthusiasts.
The articles, photos or any information may not be used for further publication
in any form without the express consent of John Valentine..