Made in Kansas: Out-of-this-world marble-making

Down the road at Bonner Springs lies a quirky little gift shop chocked full of marbles, old toys and things you probably remember from when you were a kid. But in the back of the shop, there is a workroom with a set-up for marble-making demonstrations. And Bruce Breslow, the owner of Moon Marble, loves to show off how much work goes into a single marble. Of course, Bruce is a showman and loves to entertain while he does his work.

He got started fusing the glass pieces together to make the base of the marble.

“We’re just going to keep taking pieces and adding them to this single rod,” explains Breslow.

As Bruce works, he’s always aware that he’s got an audience watching him, doing magic tricks and showing the fun things you can do with gooey, hot glass.

He explains the way the marbles are made, “This is the marble mold, called the pad mold. This one’s made out of graphite. I’m going to just put this in here and just spin it. Do the top. It’s kind of egged out, so I go to the smaller size and spin it. Give it a flip, it’s all light touches, there’s no pushin’ and mushin’. If you’re pushin’ and mushin’, your glass is not hot enough. There’s our marble. Alright, so we’ve made a red marble, and right now it’s red hot. Red-orange hot. This one we’re going to decorate with the twisty canes. I just kind of spin it into the dish, I’m just going to let them fall where they want.”

And as he continued to work, he gave me the story of how all of this marble-making even came to be in Bonner Springs.

“I never planned on making marbles, I had no idea how to make marbles. I started making chinese checkerboards and tic-tac-toe boards, Aggravation, Wahoo, Sorry, whatever you want to call it, and I needed marbles for the playing pieces. I wanted marbles like I had when I was a kid growing up. So I found a company in West Virginia called them up and they said ‘Bruce, we’ll send you marbles, but you have to buy at least 12 cases.’ Several weeks later, a semi truck backed up to the back dock door and we bought 85,000 marbles. The next thing I knew, people were coming here looking for the person with all the marbles and we never looked back.”

–KSNT Storm Track Chief Meteorologist Matt Miller

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