Sunday, November 16, 2008

Indiana Glass Family Have Long History

Joe Zimmerman, a glass artisan, owned and operated the Zimmerman Art Glass Company for over twenty years in Corydon, Indiana. Each item was made by Joe and no two pieces were exactly alike says this biography found on a Bed anbd Breakfast site.
Joe had three passions in life: his work, his Tuesday fishing day, and the family he was so proud of: Daughter Josie, and sons Bart and Kerry.
Zimmerman's love of his craft was handed down from grandfather, Frederick Zimmerman. The first Zimmerman to get the glass bug Frederick was an expert glass presser at the U.S. Glass Company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Frederick passed his appreciation for fine offhand glass and schooling in the finer points of glass judgment to his son Victor, who in turn passed the family talent to his son Joe.
Victor Zimmerman, Joe's father, started working in glass factories at Marion, Indiana at ten years of age. Victor had experience in several factories before he joined the Corydon Enterprise, a lamp chimney factory. Oil lamps were widely used forlight in rural area in America at the time. The flame was protected by a vertical cylinder; sometimes teardrop shaped, to protect the flame and focus heat up. Joe was born May 4, 1923, to Victor and his wife Daisy.
In 1938, at age 15, Joe started spending summer vacations as a glass worker at the Corydon Enterprise putting crimps on the tops of lamp chimneys. He also helped his father make paperweights.
Joe began in earnest to master the skills of offhand glass production at Glass Handcrafters, a Corydon factory where his father had become chief glass artisan. Later in 1957, while his father lay ill from a stroke, Joe worked constantly to improve his skills, taking pieces home for his dad's critical judgment and advice about how to improve the glass products.
In May of 1963, Joe and a business partner opened Zimmerman Art Glass Company. Joe continued developing his talent and created a wide variety of art glass objects. His beautiful paper weights were among the most popular items. He also designed doorstops, pencil and ring holders, baskets, vases, candleholders, lamps, and a wide variety of decorator items.
Joe Zimmerman welcomed visitors to the Zimmerman Art Glass Factory, where he demonstrated and explained the glass making process. His unique art objects were displayed and sold to the thousands of tourists and glass collectors who visited Corydon -- some were even shipped abroad. People were as drawn to Joe Zimmerman, the delightful man, as they were to his glass collectibles, says the biographer from the Kintner House Bed and Breakfast in Corydon, Indiana.
A short in the electrical system at Zimmerman Art Glass Company caused a fire February 20, 1983, which destroyed the factory. An outpouring of help came from within the community as well as throughout the country. The encouragement and donations Joe received enabled him to rebuild a state-of-the-art building. When he opened the doors of his new factory, he was joined by two enthusiastic partners, his sons Bart and Kerry. The threesome worked together, with Joe passing the family tradition and talent to the fourth generation of Zimmerman glass artisans. Bart and Kerry were apt learners and soon became vital to the business.
Admirers and loved ones were devastated to learn Joe Zimmerman had been shot to death in his glass factory on July 29, 1986. No more notice of this is given in the biography and it is curious why not.
The community mourned the loss of its friend and highly valued businessman. Sons Bart and Kerry Zimmerman have continued operating the Zimmerman Art Glass Company as their father would have wished. They have proved to be as able and talented as Joe and are encouraged by the community to continue the fine craftsmanship taught by their father.
The Zimmerman Art Glass Company is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. til 4:00 p.m., 392 Valley View Road, Corydon, Indiana, USA.
Source: the Kintner House Bed and Breakfast site.
Footnote: Bart Zimmerman 48, passed away this August 2008. Zimmerman Glass Factory glassmaker and owner: Kerry Zimmerman 395 Valley Road Corydon, In. 47112 phone
(812) 738-2206

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