Rosie’s Fenton Art Glass Collectors Honor Fenton Artist Dave Fetty
It has been estimated that at least 80% of Mid-Ohio Valley residents have either worked for, had family who worked for, or knows someone who worked for Fenton Art Glass over the years. Only a handful can claim the title of having worked for the Fenton Art Glass company for more than 40 years, but glass blower and artist Dave Fetty proudly receives that accolade, having worked at the glass company for more than 47 years.
Dave started in the glass blowing business at the Blenko Glass Company in Milton, WV when he was just nineteen years old. After a few years of learning the ropes, he was laid off from Blenko and came to work for the Fenton family in 1965. Dave stated that upon pulling up to the Fenton building he “decided that this would be a good place to retire from.”
Over the years, he has developed various designs, signature pieces, and pieces created by freehand artistry, meaning that they were not formed using a previously created glass mold. His signature design, Hanging Hearts, is easily one of the most recognizable designs Fetty has ever created. With the success of the Hanging Hearts design, Vice President of the company Tom Fenton even nicknamed Dave “The King of Hearts.”
When asked if he had a favorite piece he had ever created, Fetty couldn’t choose just one. “My favorite piece is always the one I am making at the time.” Though Dave officially retired from the Fenton Art Glass Company in 1998, he has maintained his relationship with the company, returning to design and create custom pieces and special editions for collector’s groups. These days Dave Fetty can be found showing off his talent at Henderson Hall and participating in various collector’s events.
One of those events was held July 28 at the Parkview House on Front Street, Marietta. The event was put together by the Rosie’s Fenton Art Glass Collectors Group as part of a weeklong celebration of all things Fenton Art Glass and most importantly to honor Dave Fetty himself. Unofficially, this day was designated as Dave Fetty Day, and the celebration was attended by former coworkers, artists and local fans of Fetty’s work.
In the words of the leader of the Rosie’s Collector’s Group, Heidi Brown, “ Dave Fetty is the best contemporary glass blower of our time.” Though the group holds a reunion of sorts each year, this year was more special than in years past. In the end of 2020, Dave was diagnosed with COVID-19. He struggled, but ultimately, he fought his way through it, and even returned to glass blowing within just a few months of his recovery. Dave said the he was able to beat COVID-19 by trusting in his faith and that “all the credit goes to God for bringing me through it. I had to just remain strong in my faith, and I did.”
In honor of Fetty and the obstacles he has overcome in recent years, as well as his incredible career in glass artistry, the members of Rosie’s collector group had a dinner, as well as a reception for Dave, where they presented him with a hand drawn portrait featuring various elements of his career. The drawing was created by former Fenton artist and member of the Rosie’s Collector’s Group, Becca Worstell. Becca is a local artist who currently creates unique pieces commissioned specifically for a buyer or an event. Becca currently uses sketching, acrylic paint and glass in her work, and has art on display at the Grand Central Mall.
There is something magical about being able to not only meet, but to sit and visit with local artists, especially artists with such a far reaching base of admirers. The Mid-Ohio Valley is fortunate to be able to remain the home of the Fenton Art Glass Company, and even though the building has closed, the artistry still stands strong and has provided a platform for former Fenton artists to continue practicing and producing their own work. Fenton Art Glass is a legacy that stretches clear across the country, and the artists that have worked there over the years, are the pillars that keep the legacy alive.