Baubles, bangles and history

| 29 Sep 2011 | 08:15

PORT JERVIS - Imagine wind chimes in surround sound. That’s what you get as March winds buffet the large sales room windows at Gillinder Glass. The wind vibrates the glass and scores of tiny light glass discs chime in together. The colorful shop has been inserted in the middle of the weathered utilitarian brick, factory front that looks like a set from Oliver Twist. But the shop is filled with colors. There are tables and showcases loaded with glasses, pitchers, jewelry, collectibles, decorations, all competing for the light. Other salesrooms may have some similar wares, their stock imported from other side of the world. But at Gillinders, most of their glass is made on the other side of the wall. The salesroom with its delicate stock is the finished front for a gritty furnace room where craftsmen fashion hand-made pressed glass in much the same way they have since the nineteenth century. Sue Gillinder the company treasurer, is a sixth generation Gillinder in the business. She pointed out one of the showroom cases which traces family history from William Gillinder, an English glassmaker, who wrote an 1851 book on the subject. He emigrated to America and started making glass in 1861. His sons moved the business to a building along the Erie Railroad tracks in Port Jervis in 1912. Gillinders have been making glass here ever since, she said. Today, the wood and coal burning furnaces are computer controlled and fired by natural gas. But other than that, little has changed in the process. Gillinders today is a niche manufacturer, making specialized glass products like the lenses for airport runway lights, theater stage lighting, underwater pool lighting, and ultraviolet filters that protect produce, clothing, and artwork from damaging sunlight. Gillinders gift shop is open seven days a week. The factory provides morning and afternoon tours weekdays and occasional Saturday tours where glassblowers come in to demonstrate their artistry. For more information or tour reservations, call 845-856-5375 or visit .