Heart of Glass - Blenko Glass

Blenko Glass is a West Virginia treasure that spans generations. Nothing symbolizes the state of West Virginia better or more beautifully than Blenko Glass. We will discuss current and former craftsmen and designers and how important it is that Blenko and West Virginia glass be appreciated and valued by the younger generation.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thinking of Xmas Decorating? Think Blenko Glass.

The Blenko Glass Seasonal Items - handcrafted - made of glass are available now for purchase online or in the Milton gift shop.
A few years ago my Uncle Gale started me with a collection of Blenko Glass trees -  I now have a l/2 dozen in various shades of green and crystal.
New this year is the Blenko mini tree -  its a bargain at $16

An ideal stocking stuffer, or closet gift ( you know for the unexpected guest).
Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

BRRRR! It's Getting Cold! Heart of Glass - Blenko Glass Blog

The Blenko Glass Snowmen are Here!  

New this year The Buble Snowman!
Under $55 and a lifetime investment.  

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Hinkle Glass. ' Heart of Glass Blog'

*This was in a local paper and sent to us by Blenko Collector Angie

BUCKHANNON — A local master glass artist has returned to his business full time and is ready to get back to crafting handblown works of art with some new inspiration.
For the last 2 ½ years, Ron Hinkle has been a full-time employee at Blenko Glass in Milton and a part-time employee in his own business, Ron Hinkle Glass, creating glass art on Saturdays before heading back to Milton for the Monday-Friday work week.
That changed this summer when Hinkle decided to leave a job he loved for his business he prized.
“It was a fantastic experience,” Hinkle said of his time at the 124-year-old glass manufacturing institution. “It was hard, it was educational and it challenged me. I think that is one of the reasons I might have been getting a little bit stale before is I needed to be challenged. After two years at Blenko as their vice president of operations, I decided I wanted to come home.”
There were several factors that influenced this decision, including his wife Betty who had retired a year ago. 
Hinkle wanted to spend more time with his wife, children and grandchildren but also realized Ron Hinkle Glass might have to close if he didn’t return.
“One of my main workers retired and if I didn’t come back, I was going to have to fold it up,” he said.  “I came back home. I left Blenko in good hands with Dean Six, vice president and general manager.  I am coming up with more designs. I have a fresh new helper here, Aaron Harvey, that is 26 years old. He learned glass blowing from Tamarack. I’m watching him and learning and he is learning from me.”
Now that Hinkle is back full time at his own business, he hopes to use his newfound inspiration to create old favorites but also  to experiment with glassblowing in unique ways.
“I would like to make some large mold-blown pieces,” he said. “I have some large molds that have been sitting around forever. Some are old Pilgrim molds, some of them are old Masterpiece Crystal molds. When various glass factories shut down, they sold these molds off. I ended up with several of them. I want to put some of my designs and my patterns in these mold-blowns. I also want to add more things like handles or appendages to the glass to make wings on the glass or snail handles. There will be a lot of experimentation coming up.”
Hinkle began his own glassblowing career at Louis Glass before going into business himself for the past 24 years.  He credits his wife and the small business approach he takes to his success.
“I’ve had tremendous support from my wife Betty and that is essential to me being able to hang in there,” he said. “This is a tough business to be in. Virtually everyone else in the state who makes glass has gone out of business.
“I think it’s easier to control the costs when you are a small business,” he said. “We try to invest in the right things, things we know we will use and turn into products. Instead of just focusing in one area of glassmaking such as just tableware or just art or novelty ware, we have done the spectrum of all these things. We take custom orders, commissioned pieces; we work with organizations for gifts. We work with people who want to do custom lighting. We have done all of the above. We make some art glass, some functional glass and some gift glass.”
Hinkle now sells to retail customers in 37 states.
Ron Hinkle Glass invested in a new technologically savvy furnace which was installed at the beginning of September after Hinkle and Harvey dismantled the old one.
“This new furnace has a heat-recuperation system,” Hinkle said. “The heat that would normally go up the flue is captured by this heat expander and it preheats the combustion air for 700 degrees. Virtually, it is saving me around 30 percent on my gas bill plus I can control the temperature right down to the exact degree and it doesn’t make any bad glass.”
For those familiar with the art of glassblowing, the glass is blown and shaped after being heated hundreds of degrees, then must be cooled. The glassblowing itself is over in a matter of minutes as the glassblower must have the piece in constant motion to prevent it hardening before the design is finished.
“The original melt when I put the sand in needs to get up to 2400 degrees Fahrenheit for a period of — charging and melting – probably about 18 hours and then it is cooled down to about 2100 degrees to make it workable,” Hinkle said.
Besides, Hinkle and Harvey, the business includes Heidi Russell who manages the retail portion.
Since Betty Hinkle retired last year, it’s actually a four-person operation, he added.
“My wife pitches in wherever we need her,” Hinkle said.
Ron Hinkle Glass is located off the Sago Road. Watch for the blue Ron Hinkle Glass sign and make a right onto Glassworks Road.
For more information, visit www.ronhinkleglass.com or like Ron Hinkle Glass on Facebook.     

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Blenko Glass ID?

This photo was sent in by a gentleman trying to decide what to keep.    He recalls these items being made and gifted to his family by Husted.
Our volunteers didn't recognize them as Husted, but did acknowledge they are Blenko.
Please help us with this ID if you can.

We attempt to assist new collector, and folks like my parents who need to downsize and want to let their Blenko go to new home.   We can not ID each and every piece , but most can give you a catalog year to search thru.
When possible we do provide the item number etc.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Blenko Glass. Heart of Glass Blog. New Blenko Design Team

* In mid October Blenko Glass announced a new design team, this was the press release.  

Continuing a long tradition of engaging exceptional designers, Blenko Glass of Milton WV, has joined forces with a dynamic new design team of Emma Walters and Andrew Shaffer.

Blenko has been handcrafting glass since 1893 and hired its first designer, Winslow Anderson, in 1947. The position has been held by an impressive of who’s who in glass since Anderson’s time. The hiring of these two young talents continues that

Upon accepting the full time positions as designers at Blenko, Walters and Shaffer add to the glass company’s design legacy. They bring a powerful blend of academic and design experience accompanied by practical hot glass knowledge.

Emma Walters is a central Pennsylvania native who received her BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art before studying at VSUP in Prague in the Czech Republic.

She has traveled the world on a cruise ship presenting glass blowing demonstrations. From Australia to Alaska and beyond Walters was an employee of world renowned Corning Museum of Glass and their Hot Glass Roadshow.

Additionally Walters has worked in places and with glass masters that include some of the world’s best.  She has worked with glass master Martin Janecky, Pablo Soto, Gianni Toso and Sonja Blomdahl. She has made glass at prestigious locations including Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina, The Pittsburgh Glass Center, Haystack School of Crafts in Maine  and Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State.

Andrew Shaffer hails from Downingtown, Pennsylvania and studied Furniture Design and Sculpture at Kutztown University. He first encountered hot glass in a public arts facility in Reading, PA and then worked in several glass studios in that area. He received his BFA from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. While a student he continued to work at a number of hot glass facilities in the Philadelphia area.

He worked as a design and production liaison for Simon Pierce in Vermont and then at a secession of other hot glass houses in the New York and eastern United States with projects that included modern hand-blown lighting.  His work with design and hands on skills crafting hot glass gives him a much desired skill set.

Shaffer and Walters joined forces to launch their own hot glass studio specializing in high quality art glass and architectural lighting in 2014. From their hot glass studio in the Finger Lakes region of New York State they specialized in producing high quality, specialized glass that included architectural lighting.

They joined Blenko at the first of October 2017 and have claimed the onsite Blenko design studio as their workshop.

Regarding the future Walters states “”I am inspired to work with the talented Blenko glass team, combining traditional techniques with modern ideas to create new glass works in the brilliant Blenko colors that are impossible to ignore.”

Reflecting on joining Blenko Schaffer remarked “I feel honored to design for the Blenko Glass Company.  I am excited to collaborate with such a knowledgeable and skilled team enabling conceptual ideas to be executed by hands and minds steeped in years of artistry and experience.  I am grateful for this opportunity to carry on not only the West Virginia tradition of hand crafted glass, but to build upon and contribute to America’s oldest industry.”

They are diligent at present working to creating a line of Holiday items for immediate production as well as developing new items and line for release in early 2017. The future is bright as they look to new ideas, a new color, practical beverage and serving ware, exploring options for Blenko designed and made lighting and more.

For a century old company the future looks bright with the talents of Walters and Shaffer joining the skilled Blenko artisans. Assuredly decades of success will be repeated from the hot glass tanks in Milton.                         -30-

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

PURPLE - Is the Color for Pancreatic Cancer. November is Pancreatic Cancer Month

Each year during the Breast Cancer Awareness month,  Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month, Blood Cancer Awareness  month we ask that you consider donating to the national organizations.    I also suggest using a BLENKO GLASS container in the chosen color - ie red for blood cancer, pink for breast cancer and PURPLE for Pancreatic Cancer -  you may refill the vase with flowers when you visit or perhaps a bowl that you refill with fruit.   
Pancreatic cancer arises when cells in the pancreas, a glandular organ behind the stomach, begin to multiply out of control and form a mass. These cancerous cells have the ability to invade other parts of the body. There are a number of types of pancreatic cancer.The most common, pancreatic adenocarcinoma, accounts for about 85% of cases, and the term "pancreatic cancer" is sometimes used to refer only to that type.These adenocarcinomas start within the part of the pancreas which makes digestive enzymes. Several other types of cancer, which collectively represent the majority of the non-adenocarcinomas, can also arise from these cells. One to two percent of cases of pancreatic cancer are neuroendocrine tumors, which arise from the hormone-producing cells of the pancreas.These are generally less aggressive than pancreatic adenocarcinoma.
Signs and symptoms of the most common form of pancreatic cancer may include yellow skin, abdominal or back pain, unexplained weight loss, light-colored stools, dark urine and loss of appetite. There are usually no symptoms in the disease's early stages, and symptoms that are specific enough to suggest pancreatic cancer typically do not develop until the disease has reached an advanced stage. By the time of diagnosis, pancreatic cancer has often spread to other parts of the body.
Pancreatic cancer rarely occurs before the age of 40, and more than half of cases of pancreatic adenocarcinoma occur in those over 70. Risk factors for pancreatic cancer include tobacco smoking, obesity, diabetes, and certain rare genetic conditions. About 25% of cases are linked to smoking,and 5–10% are linked to inherited genes. Pancreatic cancer is usually diagnosed by a combination of medical imaging techniques such as ultrasound or computed tomography, blood tests, and examination of tissue samples (biopsy). The disease is divided into stages, from early (stage I) to late (stage IV). Screening the general population has not been found to be effective.
The risk of developing pancreatic cancer is lower among non-smokers, and people who maintain a healthy weight and limit their consumption of red or processed meat. A smoker's chance of developing the disease decreases if they stop smoking, and almost returns to that of the rest of the population after 20 years. Pancreatic cancer can be treated with surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, palliative care, or a combination of these.  Treatment options are partly based on the cancer stage.  Surgery is the only treatment that can cure pancreatic adenocarcinoma, and may also be done to improve quality of life without the potential for cure.  Pain management and medications to improve digestion are sometimes needed.   Early palliative care is recommended even for those receiving treatment that aims for a cure.
In 2015, pancreatic cancers of all types resulted in 411,600 deaths globally   Pancreatic cancer is the fifth most common cause of death from cancer in the United Kingdom, and the fourth most common in the United States.  The disease occurs most often in the developed world, where about 70% of the new cases in 2012 originated.   Pancreatic adenocarcinoma typically has a very poor prognosis: after diagnosis, 25% of people survive one year and 5% live for five years.  For cancers diagnosed early, the five-year survival rate rises to about 20%.  Neuroendocrine cancers have better outcomes; at five years from diagnosis, 65% of those diagnosed are living, though survival varies considerably depending on the type of tumor.  **  Thank you to blog reader Amy G. for this info from wiki and other internet sites.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Blenko Glass . Heart of Glass. Calling all CHESS PLAYERS - unique items from Blenko.

This series is not cheap...but if you can collect all the pieces it will be a priceless collection.   In 1980  Shorty Finley made on his lunch hours with the assistance of Don Sheperd a Blenko Glass Chess set inspired by STAR WARS - he later offered the set for sale at the Huntington Museum of Art for $3800 ( the price of a Volkswagen in the 80s).

This series is traditional and will appeal to a wide audience.   Aaron Harvey is the new designer and a name to remember.   

Checkmate Series

The line, titled Checkmate, will include the suite of pieces in a full chess set. Pawn, knight, bishop, rook, king and queen are in planning and are to be produced over the next year to year and a half. A grouping of three differing Checkmate decanters make a strong visual statement. For the intense chess aficionado an entire oversized chess set could be assembled in both crystal and cobalt and a game

Created by Blenko’s newest designer Aaron Harvey, the 2nd piece in our new Checkmate series is meant to resemble a bishop piece in its traditional shape. Each piece made in the chess set will be offered in crystal with cobalt accents and cobalt with crystal accents. The bishop measures roughly 15.5” inches in height.  It bears all the hallmarks of handmade glass including a rough pontil on the base and will bear the hand carved name of Blenko and the year 2017. The contrasting color stopper for the bishop is accented with decorative etchings meant to resemble a bishop’s hat.

Created by Blenko’s newest designer Aaron Harvey the initial piece in our new Checkmate series is meant to resemble a pawn with the traditional shape of a large spherical top and a colonnade–like form. Each piece made in the chess set will be offered in crystal with cobalt accents and cobalt with crystal accent. The pawn measures roughly 10.5” inches in height.  It bears all the hallmarks of handmade glass including a rough pontil on the base and will bear the sand carved name of Blenko and the year. The stopper for the pawn is an oversized, contrasting color hollow ball that sits atop the piece.