DEGENHART GLASS ARTICLES
The following article was provided by Paul Miller, 1998, a very close
friend of Elizabeth and Degenhart Glass.
"Mrs. Degenhart never made Carnival Glass in her factory for sale as a production item. Others did make it for her in their factory and once in her own factory. To do so meant buying/building special equipment and required great care in the spraying the iridizing fluids (called 'dope' by workers everywhere) and ventilation was especially critical.
Soon after she had hired Zack Boyd to work for her, Ronald and Robert Hansen, brothers from Michigan, came down to seek permission to do some experimenting in the factory toward making iridized glass--later to be called Carnival Glass. How long they experimented with their brand of iridescent glass and how long they stayed is not recorded anywhere that is known to this Writer. of course, Mrs. Degenhart would have known and may even have related it to someone who still remembers, but the fact is that both of these glass makers became quite expert in iridizing glass and are nationally known and admired today. Their wares are still very beautiful and both men, at this writing, are still alive and well in their home state--Michigan, but I understand that they have gone their separate ways in the glass field and live in different cities.
In the early 1970's Carnival Glass was all the rage and in 1966 the Imperial Glass Corporation of Bellaire, Ohio began to produce a limited amount to test the market which had lain dormant in this regard since the early 1930's. The revival was on! This fact did not pass Mrs. Degenhart by--she was missing out be not making Carnival. She talked with Joe St. Clair, a paperweight maker of note in Elwood, Indiana about making Carnival Glass. Joe knew the 'secret' formulae for making the spray--'dope' to spray the hot glass with and had done a bit of experimenting himself. He invited her to bring a mould and come out and he would make some for her. This she decided to do. She spoke with Jabe Tarter and the Writer about going out to Elwood with her and stay the two days that would be needed to get the job done for her. In the Spring of 1971 we left Cambridge, Ohio loaded down with our luggage and the owl mould which had been safely loaded inside the trunk of her cadillac and we were off to see Carnival Glass being made for our first time.
We arrived in the late afternoon, Jabe driving, and Joe came to his home and took the car with the mould back to the St. Clair Glass factory for unloading and preparation for starting to make the very first Carnival Glass Owl. They came out beautifully from the lehr and all were neatly packed in boxes by Jane Ann Rice and her sister-in-law, some to be taken back in the Cadillac and the rest to be shipped by UPS. They were sent to her home address: 525 Steubenville Avenue in Cambridge and stored in her basement for safe keeping. We had spent two days and nights in the Elwood Motels and she was anxious to return home to see about everything.
We arrived back safely and the job was done. Many thanks to Joe and Ellen St. Clair who put up with us for those two days of running back and forth from the factory to their home. Ellen was kind enough tc fix a few meals for us and we ate out when it was convenient. A nice time getting a good job accomplished.
Mrs. Degenhart had decided that she would have to sell those first Carnival Glass owls for $125 each in order to recoup some of the time lost and the expenses in getting them made. People that were collectors were eager to pay the price for them--and they sold. If' you would look closely enough, somewhere you just might find one of the owls for a lesser amount than the original price-that would almost be a miracle.
Tom Mosser, owner of Mosser Glass Company in Cambridge, did considerable work for Mrs. Degenhart and when her back-log became too heavy and dealers and collectors were at the door early morning until late afternoon begging for their kind of glass, she would send a mould up to Mosser and have them make a turn or so to help her out. She trusted them completely and they did a great job for her. They also did quite a bit of iridizing glass in her moulds and if you own a copy of the book: I'Degenhart Glass and Paperweights by Gene Florence, edited by Michele A. Newton, you will find a listing of each piece of glass made and the colors that piece was made in and also, if the piece was made by Mosser, there will be this mark (M) after the color.
Terry Crider of Ohio, a Master Glassmaker I believe now in semi-retirement, did a considerable amount of making Carnival Glass in his factory iridizing Degenhart glass which he sold to collectors and dealers. Pieces now avidly sought. Most of the pieces made by Terry are signed by him.
Later on, Mrs. Degenhart went back to St. Clair for more Carnival Glass in other moulds. Her brother, Guy Garrett and wife Margaret made a trip or two out there taking her and a mould or two. Also, her niece, Wanda Garrett, took her to Elwood for more Carnival. All are now deceased. Patterns I can still recall are: the Daisy and Button Sugar and Creamer, the Texas Creamer and Sugar, and the Daisy and Button Toothpick. All were done in cobalt.
In 1975, Joe St. Clair came to Cambridge to take over the factory for a couple of days to make Carnival Glass in the Degenhart Factory--a big event as two famous glass makers joined together to make a specific kind of glass. The color for the owls that would be made was a red color, lighter than ruby which she called Pigeon Blood. It took some time for Joe and the factory workers to design and install a venting system and a spraying booth enclosed mostly to keep anyone from breathing in the vapors from the spray--they would be poison. Jabe Tarter and the Writer were on the premises that day to witness this special occasion and it was just that -- special! Help was needed by the crew to carry-in and press the owls and make ready for them to be sprayed by Joe.
He let Jabe spray one, but there was no way to mark it so he could get it afterward. A very rushing and busy day and another to follow and it was time to close the factory. We went to Mrs. Degenhart's home in the evening to listen to and talk with these two fabulous and wonderful people who made lovely glass. An event I've never forgotten and I just wish that every collector today could have been there with us."Paul B. Miller, Akron, Ohio
A very special thank you to Paul Miller and the "Friends of Degenhart Club"for permission to put up this article. There is so much more you can learn about Degenhart Glass. The colors the moulds the patterns and even more History.