Pioneering In Quality Glassware At Cambridge - Part V

by J. M. Hammer
Issue 31, November 1975


Perhaps we can understand this change better by a trip through the factory as it is today. From the three furnaces come a great variety of wares. There are thousands of moulds for both pressed and blown wares. Colored glassware as well as crystal is being fabricated in the large and airy furnace room. Here, a "shop" or unit is making tumblers in crackled effect in Peach-Blo glass. This is a pink shade - Cambridge was one of the pioneers in the pink shades - but it is but a reddish mass as the gatherer swings his iron blowpipe in delivering the glass from the pot within the furnace to the blower. A brief, strong puff on the "pipe" (as it is technically called) and the piece is formed. While it is still hot it is thrust into a tub of water and the outer surface of the glass is broken in the design known a crackled. Thence a boy carries it to another worker where the piece is reheated and the edges finished before it is taken to one of the eight new annealing lehrs.

Early in 1926, The Cambridge Glass Co. decided to replace its 14 old lehrs with those of the modern, continuous type. One lehr was installed. Its operation appeared to warrant further installations and the Simplex Engineering Co. of Washington, Pa., added seven more to the one it erected first. The factory did not shut down while the new lehrs were being erected and the old ones removed. Operations were continued. There were handicaps, it is true, but cooperation of the workers and the lehr builders was successful. Today, therefore, the glassware from Cambridge is annealed or tempered in the best type of lehr which The Cambridge Glass Co. was able to procure.

Annealing or tempering is an important factor. Unless glass is annealed, it will shatter at the first heavy touch. Its beauty and usefulness is dependent in part upon the perfection or imperfection of annealing which consists first in raising the temperature of the glass to close to the melting point and then cooling it slowly and steadily.

From the lehrs the glassware first comes under inspection. Those which pass the stringent tests and the careful eyes of the experienced women and girls are wrapped. If there is no further work to be done, the ware goes to the packing department and into barrels and thence to the shipping department.

Most of the glassware for table, home and decorative use from the Cambridge factory, however, must go through a finishing process. The bottoms of plates and bowls and other flat pieces must be round and polished, the sharp edges of stemware and other articles must be treated and finished properly. Before and after each process there must be an inspection by workers trained to catch flaws.

If the ware is to be decorated, there are more processes to go through. Ware for the decorating department, such as a large console bowl, is selected carefully from stock. If the decoration is a gold encrustation, as is much of the decorated ware from the Cambridge factory, it first must have the design printed on it. The design literally is printed on the glass by means of transfer paper on which the design first was printed in ink. The paper is washed off after the ink is rubbed in thoroughly by hand.

(Continued Next Month--Reprinted with permission of China, Glass and Tableware.)