The United Nations announced in May 2021 that 2022 will be the International Year of Glass. The distinction allows for a worldwide celebration of glass to recognize the essential role glass plays in our global society. On August 2, the state of Ohio jumped in on the action.
In honor of the global celebration, officials from Toledo, Ohio, announced on Monday in the Libbey Showroom at the Libbey Glass Toledo Factory and Distribution Center that August 2 marks the International Year of Glass Day in the Glass City.
The proclamation is fitting for a city with a rich glass and manufacturing history. For more than 100 years, Toledo has been the epicenter of the glass industry. It is the birthplace of the studio glass movement and continues to boast of a vibrant art scene.
“Toledo has historic foundations in the glass industry and is known as the Glass City,” says Kyle Sword, the business development manager at Pilkington NSG. Sword also helms the local committee celebrating the year of glass. “We have a great history of dozens of companies and hundreds of inventions and patents around glass technology. Glass provides incredible benefits to users through improved energy efficiency, access to daylight and a variety of other benefits, but glass is often overlooked due to the transparent nature of our product. We’re using this year to celebrate all we have to offer.”
The event at the Libbey Showroom included various speakers who highlighted the importance of glass, including how the material was vital in building the economic engine that propels Toledo today.
According to Sword, Toledo is known for producing a variety of glass products, including flat glass for commercial and residential construction, fiberglass, glass stemware and tableware, glass containers, glass bottles and glass for vehicles, among others.
Toledo’s dominance of the glass industry started with Libbey Glass, which moved from Massachusetts to Toledo in 1888. In 1962, the studio glass art movement began at the Toledo Museum of Art. There, local artist explored glass as an art form and offered workshops and academic programs that spread across the world. Toledo today is home to multiple global glass companies that service every part of the glass industry, including Pilkington North America. Pilkington is best known for developing the modern-day float process in the late 1950s, which revolutionized glass manufacturing. Nippon Sheet Glass (NSG) bought Pilkington in 2006. The company is now known in the U.S. as Pilkington North America / an NSG company.
The celebration of glass will continue in Toledo throughout the year. The annual Momentum Festival that runs from Sept. 15-17, 2022, will include a glass art competition and public art displays. Additionally, the Toledo Arts Commission is currently working on a new public art installation at the Glass City Metropark, along with a new trail system called the Glass City Art Walk.
“The goal of the International Year of Glass is to celebrate all the benefits created by glass, advance awareness of the solutions provided for different global issues and create collaboration and relationships between the different glass industries,” says Sword. “Though all types of glass manufacturers have similar issues, many of our companies no longer work together as the markets and industries have developed over the years. The rising tide lifts all ships, so collaboration between the different glass industries of the world should further the research, development, awareness and innovations of our separate industries and serve a higher purpose to solve the global challenges we’re facing.”