What do the Vatican, Disney World and Barbara Streisand’s house have in common with the Indiana Glass Trail?  Learn the stained glass connection when you visit the oldest glass manufacturer in the United States. Kokomo Opalescent Glass (KOG) is reminiscent of the very early days of American glass manufacturing, and only for this weekend it’s offering tours continuously from 9 – noon on Friday and Saturday.  The tour is fascinating.  You will watch as glass is ladled from a 12-pot furnace, hand-mixed, cooled, and prepped for shipping all over the world. 

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The 12-pot furnace, aglow at Kokomo Opalescent Glass

 KOG has been making art glass in its original location since 1888. 

Today, Kokomo Opalescent Glass continues as a source for restoration glass. It still has, and mixes, many of the “recipes” that established it as a premier glass manufacturer, and it continues to add colors and textures for today’s consumers.  Its Hot Glass Studio produces a wide range of quality hand-blown and hand-cast work. There, the glass blowers create one-of-a-kind and limited edition functional and sculptural glass objects and rondels.  Only as part of this weekend, KOG is offering free:

  • bead and suncatcher demonstrations Friday 9 – 5 and Saturday 9 – 1, and
  • glass blowing demonstrations Friday and Saturday 9 – noon.

Cost for the facility tour is $5 and includes a gift from the Op Shop.  KOG is located where it has been for well over a century, at 1310 S. Market St., in Kokomo.  Its website is here.

Kokomo offers glass aficionados a lot to see and do, so fill this day without having to fill your tank.  The Greater Kokomo Visitors Bureau offers all the options, including where to spend the night.  These hotels will offer you aspecial room rate for the weekend: Holiday Inn Express, Courtyard by Marriott, Comfort Inn, Fairfield Inn, and Hampton Inn & Suites.  Mention “Art on Fire: Hot Glass & Class” to receive the discounted rate.

Glass-related highlights include

  • The Greentown Glass Museum, just minutes east of Kokomo and featuring a permanent exhibit of more than 2,000 pieces of Greentown Glass.  Open noon – 4 Friday, and Saturday – Sunday 1 – 4 p.m., admission is free.  The museum is at 112 N. Meridian St., Greentown.
  • The Seiberling Mansion, built in 1891, features a special glass exhibit.  The discovery of natural gas in the late 1800’s in Indiana lit a new fire in the economy of Howard County and led to an explosion of creativity and glass-making – from plate glass to stained glass, and from cookware to art glass, Howard County was a leader of the industry. That history is featured in this exhibit produced in cooperation with Kokomo Opalescent Glass, highlighting a selection from the museum’s huge collection of Jenkins glass, along with Greentown glass, a unique Bournique chandelier, and the Seiberling’s wonderful stained glass windows. Open 1 – 4, Friday – Sunday, at 1200 W. Sycamore St., in Kokomo.  Admission is $5 adults and $2 children.
  • Just down the road is the Kokomo campus of Indiana University, and its gallery is hosting GATHERING: Contemporary Glass from the Heartland,” an
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    “Brainstorm,” part of the “GATHERING” exhibit at IU Kokomo

    exhibition of exceptional glasswork from artists in six states.  Twenty-eight pieces from 21 glass artists were selected for this year’s Indiana Glass Arts Alliance (IGAA) annual exhibition. This is the first time the IGAA has opened the exhibition to glass artists outside Indiana, and nearly 150 applications from 48 glass artists were reviewed.  The Indiana University Kokomo Art Gallery is located at 2300 S. Washington Street.  Free parking is available on campus. The exhibit opens Saturday, with the opening reception and gallery hours 2 – 5  p.m.

  • Crystal Wand Creations, in downtown Kokomo, offers local, handmade glass items, including jewelry, ornamental suncatchers and more.  It’s open 10 – 6 Friday and Saturday 10 – 4, at 206 N. Buckeye Street.

No more than an hour due west is Lafayette/West Lafayette, home to a thriving arts scene and Purdue University.  If you come into town Friday, glass artist Susan DeLong‘s Kaleidoscope Glass will be open 9-5, with her team at work on stained glass projects.  Stop in and watch an artist restoring one of 30 windoes for a church, and another working on a new window for a Purdue fraternity.  Lafayette’s Third Friday sees several downtown businesses open late on this special day.  Many restaurants, retail shops and galleries host specials for children and adults in this easily walkable historic town.  Be sure to visit Artists’ Own Gallery, at 518 Main Street.  Glass artists Sharon Owens, Lisa Walsh and Kathleen Kitch sell their work at this artists’ co-op. Main Street Artisans is just down the street at 842 Main Street, and this artists’ co-op offers Cindy Cook’s fused glass.  In West Lafayette, Gretel’s Fine Gifts, at 1530 Win Hentschel Blvd, carries work by glass artists Kathleen Kitch and Beverly Skinner.

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Sharon Owens’ exceptional glasswork

Saturday in Lafayette is about glass, and with nearly 40 years experience as a glass artist, Sharon Owens is offering two different kinds of glasswork classes at her Inspired Fire Glass Studio and Gallery.

  • From 10 – 1, Sharon will teach a beginner flame-working class where students will learn torch basics, create beads with soda lime glass and learn surface design.  The $70/person charge includes all materials.  There are a maximum of 10 seats for students age 12 and older.  Reservations are needed, and seats will be filled first-come, first-served.  To claim one, call Inspired Fire at (765) 474-1981.
  • From 1 – 3 p.m., Mike Byers, a fusing artist, will demo that glass art genre.
  • From 2 – 4 p.m., Sharon will lead a fusing class for up to 15 students who are at least six years old.  The $50 fee includes all material except dichroic glass (two-color glass) which can be purchased separately.  Reservations are needed, and seats will be filled first-come, first-served.  To claim one, call Inspired Fire at (765) 474-1981.

If you can’t fit a class into your weekend schedule, Inspired Fire is open Saturday 10 – 5 for shopping and browsing the gallery, and you always are welcome to return.  Sharon teaches year-round, except in November, and her classes can be found on her website.  Inspired Fire is at 2124 SR 25 South, in Lafayette.

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One of dozens of unique jewelry pieces by Mercedes Brugh

State Road 25 is a beautiful drive in the fall, and in one hour it takes you directly from Lafayette to Logansport.  On Sunday, glass artist Mercedes Brugh will host an open studio from 1 – 4 p.m. at her Frozen Music Studio in Logansport.  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe called architecture frozen music. Mercedes composes her own version of timeless architecture, one piece of jewelry at a time. She etches intricate drawings into glass, and once her design is finished she adds the lens of another layer of glass, then shapes that glass into bowls and jewelry.  Mercedes is represented in 40 galleries across the U.S., and you can find a partial list of her work on her website.  So don’t travel to Kapaau or San Antonio, visit with Mercedes in person to see the best selection – and even place special orders – at the “factory.”  Frozen Music Studio is at 1315 East Market St., and is down one flight of stairs. Detailed directions are here.

With this weekend being so near the start of fall, and so close to Halloween, there is a lot to do in these three counties in addition to this glass itinerary.  Click here to see all the options, and bring the family along for a very full fall weekend getaway.

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