By Elaine Kish
If your holiday gift list includes females, males, adults, teenagers and children, we’ve found the place for one-stop shopping. Canal Fulton Glassworks is housed in one of Stark County’s oldest commercial buildings. Originally constructed around 1814, over the years this timber-framed structure has been home to numerous businesses, including a general store, the original town train station for the Massillon & Cleveland Railroad, a bakery, beer distributor, coal and feed store, building supply, radio repair, bicycle shop and canoe livery. The building and adjoining three lots were purchased by Worth “Bud” Graham and Sandy Graham in 2004. Their intention was to restore the building to as close to the original design as possible, which included raising the building up about five feet to permit repair of the foundation and replacement of termite damaged sills, and returning the front doors to their original location on the front of the building. The Grahams, along with their son, Brian, ultimately completed the restoration and in 2009 Canal Fulton Glassworks was founded as a family business.
Numerous bus tours and school students visit each year to see how hand blown and molded glass pieces are made from beginning to end. Each hand blown glass piece starts with a “gather” of molten glass from the 2,000+ degree furnace, which remains heated at all times, onto the end of a blowpipe. While all of the molten glass starts out clear, colors are added by the addition of glass frit. Resident glass artists Brian Graham and Russ O’Brien are graduates of Kent State University. Artists demonstrate the techniques of blowing the glass and shaping it into different objects. Some of the glassblowing tools originated in Italy in the 1400’s. Vases, bowls and other glass art that are not blown start with a gather on a punty rod that is subsequently shaped and reheated as necessary while tools are used to attain the finished shape. Completed pieces are then placed in the annealing oven for a period of 24 hours which allows them to cool slowly thereby increasing durability.
Molded glass pieces are made by blowing molten glass into individual molds. While Canal Fulton Glassworks already had numerous molds in their possession, in 2017 they acquired additional molds from the Fenton Art Glass Company in West Virginia when Fenton stopped traditional glassmaking. Canal Fulton Glassworks has the last remaining William J. Miller semi-automatic marble machine built for the Peltier Glass Company in 1923/24. Their particular machine is referred to as Peltier No. 1 machine and may be adjusted to make 3/4” and 1” glass marbles. In the demonstrations they hand shear hot glass slugs, one at a time. In the original factory setting, glass would be fed in a continuous stream direct from a glass furnace to produce marbles.
After you see how the beautiful glass pieces are created, you will definitely enjoy a visit to the glass studio and art gallery. Sitting on the porch to greet you are some carved pieces, one of which is a 4-foot tall snail. All glass pieces in the gallery were created on the premises. There are glass bowls and vases in an assortment of sizes, shapes and colors, as well as blown glass, all made on the premises. They carry handmade art works created by more than 60 Ohio artists. Items include carved wood, ceramics, jewelry, stained glass, furniture, and prints. Since each item is individually created, there are no two alike. Artists whose work is displayed are chosen specifically by the Grahams. “Each piece in the gallery tells a story,” says Bud Graham.
One specific category of glass art work is an assortment of angels in different colors created by artist
Russ O’Brien who generously donates a portion of the proceeds from each angel sold to the Akron Children’s Hospital Burn Unit in Akron, Ohio. They are available in several sizes and colors, and displayed with a battery powered votive candle inside to highlight the color and texture. If you want a specific size or color, you can request that it be made exactly as you would like.
Canal Fulton Glassworks offers classes in hot glass working conducted by resident artist Brian Graham and no experience is necessary to create your own one-of-a-kind piece. Currently classes are making glass paperweights, glass pendants 1.5” round and glass beads. Held on Saturday mornings, all classes require an advance registration and deposit. Although you will complete your piece during the class, it will need to cool for 24 hours which will require a return trip to the studio to pick it up. Jewelry classes are also offered by Katie Mullins, owner and artist of Bonya’s. Ms. Mullins works with sterling silver and copper to create necklaces, bracelets and earrings. As with glass, your piece will be an original. There is no set schedule for jewelry classes and a reservation with deposit is required. Call Canal Fulton Glassworks at 330-854-2966 for more information or to schedule classes. Jewelry classes may be scheduled Tuesday through Saturday at 10:30 am or 1:30 pm.
What could be more personable than a gift of handmade glass or a jewelry piece made by you? You can have some fun and do your shopping at the same time. A sun catcher reflecting a favorite item, hobby or pet will be a great reminder of your thoughtfulness every time they look at it. A piece of stained glass tells a story of its own and pottery is always a favorite.
As we approach the holidays, Canal Fulton will celebrate Christmas on the Canal on Saturday, December 2, 2017. The daylong event will feature a dramatic reading of “A Christmas Carol,” free tours of the Oberlin House and Olde Canal Days Museum, ice carvings, wagon rides, pictures with Santa, Christmas music, an electric lights parade along Canal Street and the tree lighting ceremony at Public Square in the evening.
For more information about Canal Fulton Glassworks, its extensive history, tours and classes, as well as the numerous artists whose items are available in the gallery, check their website at www.canalfultonglassworks.com.
Canal Fulton Glassworks