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A Colorful Industry

Author: Christy Gill, NBCT

Big Ideas: Become aware of the diversity of glassworks in West Virginia.

Essential Questions: How are new designs and colors developed for glass manufacturers?

4th Grade Standards and Lesson Plans

Social Studies Standards

SS.4.19 pose, research, and answer student-generated questions relating to West Virginia (e.g., primary source documents, magazines, online resources, etc.).

Visual Arts Standards

VA.O.4.2.3 explore and create various types of nonobjective and/or abstract artworks, e.g., Aboriginal symbols, Mayan glyphs, Pollack and Rothko.

VA.O.4.2.4 recognize artworks demonstrating that form follows function, e.g., architecture, masks, helmets, car design, clothing.

Learning Plan

As part of an investigation of the many industries in West Virginia students will learn about glass during social studies/history time or in cooperation with the social studies/history teacher, students must have developed the content background related to glass manufacturing in West Virginia. Students will conduct an internet search and discover colorful glassware that is available in West Virginia by West Virginians. In this art-related activity, students will design their own glass products as if they are a designer creating a fresh look for a new collection. Students will peruse the Blenko Glass website to discover the variety of shapes and colors in which the glass is produced.

Students may conduct the internet search independently or the teacher may use a projector and computer for a whole class discover and discussion. This lesson should take 90 minutes. First, students will view glassworks then draw and add color to their favorite pieces. Next, they will create a new design of their own which they will recreate with tissue paper and laminator. The students' final work will be displayed in the window.

Blenko Glass has been selected for this lesson since there is a variety of glass offered for viewing in the gift shop and online. If a glass manufacturer is regionally closer to the students, a list can be found on the internet and another company can be viewed instead of Blenko.

Notes to the Instructor

After the internet search an introductory discussion could include these topics and questions:

While viewing the glassworks on the Blenko site, the students should have a paper folded in fourths so they can redraw four of the glassworks they view on the Blenko site. Students will then draw and color a new shape and/or color combination of a glasswork of their design on paper at least 8.5" x 11". With the help of the teacher, students will feed tissue paper into a laminator in the color combination of their created piece. They will then cut out the outline of the proposed glass work. The glasswork representation should be at least 10' tall to make an impact for the window display. The completed translucent glasswork will be taped to the window for display. Classrooms without access to a laminator can use wax paper as a first layer and apply the colored tissue paper with a thinned glue and water solution to complete their design for display.

When using the laminator, a glue stick can be used to keep the tissue paper pieces in place. After laminating, the drawing will be used as a pattern. Before cutting out the laminated sheet, it can be stapled to the drawing. In addition, if students or the teacher to wish to provide West Virginia glassware, it can be brought into the school for a display. As a follow up to the assignment, a visit to the nearest glass manufacturer would be beneficial to the students.

art1 art2 art3
art4 art5 art6

Materials and Other Resources

8.5 x 11 or 9 x 12 drawing paper, or larger



tissue paper


wax paper (if laminator is not available)


internet access

Blenko Glass factory video

The Museum of American Glass in West Virginia website

Fento Art Glass website

Ron Hinkle Glass website

West Virginia Department of Commerce website