Glass heart of KY
October 7, 2006 12:21 PM   Subscribe

About 12 years ago the wife and I where driving around Mammoth Cave KY, and there where these small shops that sold shards and chucks of colored glass in many different sizes. The glass was not manifactured for sale, but some byproduct of something or another.

We purchased a smallish (11 in x 5 in) artistic looking peice at the time. Flash forward, we now own a house in Duluth MN and I've been pondering those small stores for awhile now becasue I think a rather large peice of glass (< 3x3 ft, which they had at the time) would make a neat lawn fixture.
Does anyone know if 1) these places still exist around Mammoth Cave? And 2) if they are seasonal (ie. driving down in November would be a waste of time). Bonus points if you can provide contact info.

(I already tried google, to no avail)
posted by edgeways to Shopping (10 answers total)
Do you mean geodes, or actual glass? Do you have a photo of the piece? On the off-chance that you mean geodes, there are plenty of rock shops around Mammoth Cave. Try the Mammoth Cave site itself for a place called Big Mike's, and there's another place nearby called Diamond Caverns.
posted by iconomy at 12:38 PM on October 7, 2006

Response by poster: not geodes, I know (and love) those suckers, this is glass. I suppose if you need a photo here is one, but this is not wholly represeative as there where peices in many different colors,sizes and shapes
posted by edgeways at 1:22 PM on October 7, 2006

Best answer: edgeways, are you perhaps talking about fulgurites? They form anywhere lightning meets sandy soil, but some folks "seed" sandy areas with lengths of rebar shoved vertically into sand, hoping to create a favorable point for lightning to strike.

But from your description, I'm thinking you could also be talking about some of the slag that comes as a byproduct of aluminum smelting in that area. Some plants still need to add considerable silica to the purification steps in smelting, and the trapped impurities and excess silica that comes of the process is a kind of glass. A lot of that is crushed and re-used, or sold as filler to other bulk product processes, such as asphalt plants, and concrete mixers.
posted by paulsc at 1:29 PM on October 7, 2006

Response by poster: paulsc, it might well be slag, that rings faint bells explination wise... now as to the question if anyone knows if it is still sold around there...
posted by edgeways at 3:01 PM on October 7, 2006

From the preview, I really thought this questions was going to be about a glass heart full of KY jelly.
posted by cusack at 3:17 PM on October 7, 2006

Best answer: It's probably slag from a glass manufacturer. I have a green chunk as part of a yard art piece, and it came from someone who bought it from a glass mnaufacturer.

According to Roadside America, Big Mike's Rocks near Mammoth Cave sells glass slag. But I bet you can find it locally if you call around to recycling companies or glass manufacturers. Or you could call Big Mike's:

Address: 566 Old Mammoth Cave Road., Cave City, KY
Phone: 270-773-5144
posted by hades at 3:18 PM on October 7, 2006

Best answer: Slag glass is a scrap by-product of glass manufacturing. Some is recycled into decorative pieces and some is sold as raw lumps, chunks or pieces. Clear, colored and mixed color pieces are available from several sources - Glass boulders here. Lapidary (item 5 on page) hobbiests and crafts people cut and shape pieces or tumble irregular pieces for use in jewelry.

There may have been a glass manufacturer in the area that you passed through in KY. The glass you bought could have been from a local factory.
posted by X4ster at 3:37 PM on October 7, 2006

Response by poster: super, thanks guys
posted by edgeways at 4:32 PM on October 7, 2006

My cuz, and some of her neighbors use those chunks of glass to accent their desert landscaping. It looks like this company sells some of the chunks you may be looking for. In Las Vegas, Cactus Joes calls it decorative silica glass and I have gotten some nice chunks there (including glow under UV light vaseline glass chunks!)
posted by Raymond Marble at 4:41 PM on October 7, 2006

My roomate is currently in possession of what looks like black glass, which he says is a byproduct of old steel smelting techniques. He found them somewhere around here (Lexington, KY).
posted by phrontist at 3:08 PM on October 8, 2006

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