The Paul Wissmach Glass Company, Inc. From 1904 to today.
Wissmach constantly introduces new colors and types of glass to meet the demands of today’s glass artists. In the 1980s and 1990s the company formulated many new colors with reproduction Tiffany lampshades in mind - a popular form of glass art at that time.
Diverse palette, glass quality and cutability inspire studios like Cummings Studios, North Adams, Massachusetts, to use Wissmach glass on projects like the massive stained glass dome created in 1987 for the Old Executive Office Building, Washington D.C.
Time-honored glass formulas enable Wissmach to respond to requests for glasses used in the restoration and replication of historic works of stained glass art.
Mark Feldmeier says: “We’ve lasted for over 100 years because we’ve been conservative. Many companies expanded when the economy was prosperous. We did not. Also, our workforce is the best you could find anywhere. Many of our people have been here for 20, 30 and 40 years. We feel fortunate to be where we are. We have developed the largest variety of cathedral opalescent glass in the world, giving the artisan a wide range of choices. We take pride in each restoration or new window made with Wissmach glass.”
President Mark Feldmeier attributes the long-term success of the company to a good quality glass at a remarkable price and “a conservative business strategy.”
Making glass is a hot business, both literally and figuratively. The factory has 12 brick furnaces that use natural gas to heat the limestone, soda ash and sand to 2,200°F (1,200°C). Different mixtures of ingredients create the distinct Wissmach colors. After heating, workers scoop the molten glass from the furnace and wheel it over to the glass press where a roller presses it into one of the 18 patterns that the company produces. The glass then travels down a 125 foot conveyor through a temperature controlled kiln called a lehr. The purpose of the lehr is to anneal the glass, or slowly and evenly cool it, to give the glass its durability and to prevent shattering or heat related breaking. At the end of the conveyor, workers carefully remove the cooled sheet of glass and cut it to the appropriate size.