Sun Catchers

  • Sun Catchers – West Virginia Crackle Glass

     

    Many of us born in the 1930’s to mid-1950’s era remember every kitchen window (and many parlor windows) had at least one piece of crackle glass which caught the sun’s rays and refracted and reflected the rays into a gorgeous array of color; thus the term “Sun Catchers.” Although the origin of crackle glass remains unknown, American crackle glass was abundantly produced in factories along the Ohio River, primarily on the West Virginia side, from the 1930’s until the late 1970’s, and West Virginia became known as “Glass Country” with over 400 glass factories in operation during the earlier years.  Some of the more well-known crackle glass manufacturers were Pilgrim Glass, Blenko Glass, Hamon Glass, Viking Glass, Williamsburg Glass, Rainbow Glass, Fenton Glass, Kanawha Glass, Cambridge Glass, and Westmorland Glass, among many others. Unfortunately, all have ceased production of crackle glass and most are now out of business entirely.

    Crackle glass is made by plunging red-hot newly produced glass objects into cold water and then reforming or re-blowing the glass object. This resulted in the glass appearing to have multiple fractures and “cracks” while the surface remained relatively smooth to the touch. Many times when the glass was plunged into the cold water, the glass shattered into many pieces, thus the failure rate was high and crackle glass objects were somewhat pricy for the time period. But the sheer beauty of crackle glass in a rainbow of colors made it extremely popular with the American public.

    Although no longer produced in the United States (except for specialty individual glass blowers), many examples of crackle glass can be found in antique, re-sale, and collector shops. Crackle glass comes in a wide variety of colors, shapes, sizes, and forms. There are crackle glass figurines, decanters, cruets, beverage glasses, pitchers, vases, and mugs. In other words, just about anything made of glass can be found in crackle glass. Today, many crackle glass items are inexpensive and usually not much more than non-crackle glass items of similar design. The dealer booths and cases at the Denver Brass Armadillo have a good selection of crackle glass items as well as crackle glass guide books for sale. Next time you are at the Brass Armadillo, look for crackle glass and buy an inexpensive piece. Take it home and place it in a window; you’ll be amazed at the breath-taking beauty of the sun shining thought the glass! Chances are, you will go back and get additional crackle glass pieces.