Your Town Friday: Elwood and its love for glass blowing

Elwood, Ind. - For this week's Your Town Friday, we're checking out a city known as the "Heart of Hoosierland!"

Christy Clark loves her city of Elwood and invited us for a visit. So we drove about an hour northeast of Indianapolis to Elwood, which is technically in two counties. Most of the city lies in Madison County, but a small portion is in Tipton County.

Elwood was laid out in 1853 under the name Duck Creek. It was renamed to Elwood 16 years later.

A lot of new things are happening, like three new manufacturers, a $25 million residential development and a new golf course, but the older stuff is still doing well, too!

Just ask Jeff Ball.

"Glass has got a way of getting in your blood," said Ball.

Glass blowing has a long history in Elwood and Jeff has had that fire in his blood for nearly 30 years.

"You wake up in the morning and you can’t wait till you can get in there and pull some out and make something out of it. And when you give a piece to a person and you see them cry because of it, it touches your heart in a special way."

Most people in Elwood know Jeff. He owns Prestige Art Glass.

In fact, most everyone in Elwood knows everyone in Elwood!

"You should come!" said Jeff. "It's a great place. We love it here."

About 8,400 people love it there today and call Elwood home.

People are proud of several things, like being the birthplace of 1940 presidential candidate Wendell Willkie, but Elwood is also known for its blown glass.

Across town, fellow glass blower Joe Rice knows that history well.

"My grandfather started the business in 1938," said Rice. "He died in 1958. Uncle Joe then took over the business till he died in 1987. Uncle Bob started here in 1971 and worked until he died in 1981, and my late wife and I bought this in October of 1987."

Once called St. Clair Glass, today it's called The House of Glass.

"I’ve made a quarter of a million pieces of glass in my lifetime and the stories of each piece are still more important than that."

Jeff agrees with that, saying, "We touch people's lives in a special way."

And maybe in a way you hadn't thought of yet.

"We've sent things all over the world where we incorporate the ashes from pets or people," said Jeff.

One day a guy named Tom walked into Prestige Art Glass.

"I could see emotionally that something was going on."

Tom had kept a few strands of hair from his cat and Jeff made a special glass piece.

"I got all teared up, too. When Tom saw it, he got all emotional again. That's what I'm doing it for. We help in a small way."

Both men love their work and their city.

"Elwood is a community that has supported all the arts," said Joe.

"We love what we do," said Jeff. "Come check us out. Come check the Glass Festival out! It’s a great time."

And speaking of that Glass Festival, it's coming up! The 47th Annual Elwood Glass Festival is August 17-19.