One Of A Kind Wheeling Business Breaking The “Mould”

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December 25 2021 12:00 am

WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – In 1939, the Central Glass Company closed its doors.

In that same year J.D. Weishar and his son bought the molding equipment from Central Glass for just $1,500 dollars to start their own company.

They decided to call it Island Mould.  

Island Mould Vice-President John Weishar says, “When they came up to close up completely somebody suggested to him to buy the shop. He didn’t have any money so we went to the bank and they agreed they would buy the whole shop for $1500 which consisted of drill presses, four or five lathes, grinders, saws, drill presses nothing real major.” 

Island Mould, which is located in Wheeling, is currently the only commercial mould shop in the U.S.A. that specializes in producing moulds for the hand plant glass industry.

J.D.’s son followed in his father’s footsteps. 

Island Mould President John Weishar says, “My great-grandfather was a glassworker and he made and pressed glass at Central Glass at the time. While he was doing that, my grandfather was a moldmaker. My dad worked there as a water bucket carrying boy.” 

Tom and John Weishar are brothers and currently own Island Mould.  

They learned everything they know from three generations of Weishars.  

Tom adds, “A hand shop industry by the word hand shop means everything is pretty much made by hand. So, we have to make the molds and the tooling for them to make the glass out of and it’s all made by hand at the glass plants.” 

Tom and John’s dad cherish their pictures.

They hold onto a photo of their dad handchipping a design in the cavity of the mold. 

They love reminiscing with others about another picture of their dad in front of Island Mould’s first shop on Wheeling Island. 

In 1947, the business was relocated to this building where it remains today.  

While Tom focuses on the daily operations of the shop, John’s attention is mainly on the company website.

Weishar Enterprises sells its own glass and is quite popular today. 

Their biggest clients include the Amish who adore one pattern in particular. 

John says, “The Amish community is actually been a pretty good market for us for the last 10 years. People that had bought our moon and stars glasses in the beginning they were all dealers. They probably had 900 dealers 30 years ago. Now we have three. Everybody else is retail or online other than the Amish. They will buy candy dishes and berry sets. The young boys buy them for their girlfriends, their fiancés. I’m not sure how that all works, but that’s what the big market is now.” 

These two brothers cut cast iron to create the molds.   

Tom recalls, “A lot of times if I look at the molds themselves in the artwork that goes into it. It’s going to be here for hundreds of years when we’re gone. The intricate design, the patterns you know people can relate.” 

For 82 years the Weishar family has been doing everything in reverse when it comes to their signature.

 The signature is actually backwards on this mold, but when it is done it will turn out looking the right way.

According to John, “Everything that you’re actually seeing by way of glasswork is positive, but the molds are all in reverse. Otherwise, if the mold was positive all the glass you would see would look inside out.” 

In case you’re wondering why Island Mould is spelled with a “u”, the name “mould” is actually french for la moule. John says when he was young he spelled it m-o-l-d once and his dad said that kind of spelling is on cheese. 

People say a diamond is forever, to the Weishar’s, glass lasts forever, well almost. 

John chuckles, “Glass will last forever as long as you don’t drop it. If you drop it, it’ll break. 
 
Their great-grandfather made coin glass at Central Glass in 1892, but then representatives from the U.S. Treasury Department ordered the molds for the coin glass to be destroyed.  

The molds for this glass were said to be counterfeit because the glass coins were exact replicas of U.S. currency.  


John continues, “It helps to bring back memories to all of us. What glass has done for all of us, for the whole country as well as the world in general.”

Tom recalls the first mold the company ever made.  
He says, “The first we ever made in 1939 was a bust of Roosevelt he was a very well-liked president back in the 30s and also during the war and my grandfather and dad made the mold of Roosevelt.”

According to John, “The neat thing is we’ve actually touched everybody’s life in this country. They don’t know it. They don’t know us from Adam, but if you flew in an airplane there was a lense on an airplane, there was a light on the runway, that a mold was made here. If you go to any gas station downtown with a Sheetz, Mobile, Sunoco whatever, they have big fancy prismatic light shades we made the molds for those. If you drive down the highway or a stop at a traffic light we made most big lights on the highway and the traffic lights they stop at. So it’s neat that you touch everybody’s life, but we’re just snugged away here in a corner of Wheeling and nobody knows.”

 The two say that often times people credit the glassmaker with making the wonderful glass, but always remember that behind every good glassmaker is an equally memorable moldmaker. 

 “There’s a big supportive team behind that glass. It’s called a moldworker. If we didn’t have them, the glassworker couldn’t make the wonderful class. So, it’s actually a real good team, a joint venture, between the moldmaker and  the glassworker.” 

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