THE SUMMIT ART GLASS COMPANY
by: Jabe Tarter
The below story was written by Jabe Tarter back in the early 1970s. I have put it below just as it was written back then by Mr.Tarter.
One of the most beautiful of modern glass is being made right now at the Summit Art Glass Company, 928 East Wilbeth Road, Akron, OH 44312. There is more than first meets the eye in regard to this fledgling firm. The glass company is owned by Russell and Joanne Vogelsong, and making glass has been a part of the family for several generations.
The Vogelsong's - both maternal and paternal have come from the very heart of the glass making area in Eastern United States.
Russell, nicknamed Buzz, had a great Uncle Lenny who has his own factory in Tiff in, OH in the 1920's, going on into the 1930's when many smaller houses were forced out of business by the Depression.
His uncle made small pressed pieces in novelty ware, blown lamps of the decorative sort - for himself and other firms. In addition, he made many artistic off-hand pieces - vases and tankards.
In the 1880's Russell's great-grandfather Henry and grandfather Leo came to this country from Germany where they had learned the glass craft. As soon as they were in Tiffin they immediately went to work as gaffers and blowers. Uncle Lenny did all sorts of things in the glass house and absorbed much knowledge, even to being able to detect the chemicals used in glass houses.
It is not possible to pinpoint all the glass houses in Tiff in at that time. The largest, known as the Tiffin Glass Company changed hands many times - at one time it was a decorator for firms belonging to the National and United States Glass Com-panies.
One of the things coming out of those glass making days of long ago is the original mold for the Tiffin Glass Company logo. It is the same shape, in the form of the shield, as is used today. But then it was on a standard and given to the merchants who sold the glass. The Summit Art Glass Company is fortunate to own it - the base has the logos of United States Glass Company and the Tiff in Glass Co.
The maternal grandmother of Vogelsong went to work at the Fenton Art Glass Company when she was thirteen. She, along with with her husband, went to work in 1918 for the Cambridge Glass Co. where they remained for many years. Grandmother Stat's job was to install collars on the hand made kerosene lamps.
They were the next door neighbors of John and Elizabeth Degenhart who worked for Cambridge Glass Company before opening their own plant, the Crystal Art Glass Co. in 1947.
There was a gap of about three decades between Russell's grandfather and his own interest in glass making. But with a growing interest into one of the largest and most unique collections of Cambridge Glass, starting in 1968 when they attened an antique show and left "hooked" on glass, the firm has blossomed into one of the fastest growing firms in Ohio.
In less than two years Russell and Joanne "knew" that glass making was the thing they wanted to do. They are young people and they have the time and energy to work out the molds and ideas they want.
Their first mold was an owl paperweight with real glass eyes. And this was one of the hottest things to hit the market when it was introduced. It is still going strong because of the "owl craze" in today's collecting world.
About this time, Russell's brother Norman, with his lovely Korean bride Lisa, came home from the service and they both joined in and became supervisors of the decoration department. Prior to this time the Summit Art Glass pieces had little decoration.
With Russell, Joanne, Elizabeth Lord (Joanne's mom), Norman and Lisa, the shop is ever expanding. They now have more than 20 molds. Most of the molds are of their own designs, or copies of originals but a few are old molds that have been found in warehouses and reworked.
Each piece is marked with a V in a circle, and if you look carefully you may find the initial of a family member engraved on the pieces of some molds. Some of the earlier items were not marked but within the past three years all, except for the Croesus tumbler, Singing Bird tumbler and Colorado toothpick, have been marked.
At the moment the Vogelsong's do not actually make the glass - they "farm" their molds out to various glass manufacturers. This is done by several glass firms.
A popular Bicentennial item is their Eagle, a copy of the eagle bookend from the defunct Cambridge Glass Company, but on a 1 3 starred-and-stippled base with the words "United States of America 1776-1976 Bi-Centennial" in high relief. These words will be removed after December 31, 1976 and the eagle will then be sold in a plain version. The eagle has been made in a variety of colors including crystal, amber, milk glass, carnival, sapphire blue, and coblat. A limited number of them were made in green and amethyst carnival.
It is wonderful to see young people get into the glass making business because it means we will continue to enjoy glass beauty for years to come.
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