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, May 30, 2007
About 80% of people are unhappy at work, and 20% are happy. Our culture has separated work from passion, and taught us to prefer a higher paycheck to higher happiness. That mistake costs us our souls. The goal of career development is to uncover one's gifts and passions, and to link them to the practical needs of the world. We call that "being in the right place," "finding a good fit," or "making the best use of one's talents
Richard Blenko - The Face of BLENKO Is a prime example of what Kahill Gibran was speaking of.
When I was a little kid I thought Richard Blenko had the neatest job - traveling all the time - (he still does over 150 days a year) - promoting BLENKO GLASS COMPANY. Only after turning 20 - did I realize it was a difficult job.
Getting paid to talk about BLENKO! It seemed like the perfect gig to me! Richard always makes everything look easy, he has a ready smile, and seems to never meet a stranger - only new friends. RICHARD IS AN AMBASSADOR FOR WEST VIRGINIA - where ever he goes.... he proudly represents The Glass Arts and the State of WEST VIRIGNIA.
Richard is a very talented man. Had he not been born a BLENKO he might have been a noted film maker (he has produced several documentaries for BLENKO and is a film maker), a Film Star (Richard has movie star 'good looks') he is a very popular PBS Guest - usually 'talking' about Blenko and the arts. Multi - talented Richard Blenko could have been successful in one of a dozen different occupations had he not felt the need to join the 'family business.'
Richard Blenko has devoted his entire life to BLENKO GLASS COMPANY in Milton, West Virginia. I think Richard's gift / his ability to promote was just perfect. Watching him over the years, I knew he loved BLENKO and he made us also love and cherish BLENKO.
Rick, I am so very glad you chose to stay in Milton! I know you would have/ could have been quiet successful in a dozen other occupations but for loyalty to your family and that 'factory.'
Blenko Glass Company is made up of dedicated, loyal, hardworking men and women. It is an amazing privately owned company.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
On Saturday, June 9th, 2007, at 7 PM The South Charleston Museum will present 90 minutes of
new short films made in West Virginia.
The short films come from three organizations – The Huntington Herald Dispatch website, The Charleston Gazette Gazz website, and The West Virginia Filmmakers Guild. Each organization will present 30 minutes of new short films. Various filmmakers will be present to introduce/talk about their films.
A sampling of the short films being shown:
Blenko Glass artisans discuss the art of making blown glass and stained glass.
Former Marshall University assistant coach Red Dawson, who contributed to the rebuilding of Marshall's football team, spoke at the 36th annual memorial service for the 75 people who died in the 1970 plane crash.
Experts are now studying the historic Keith-Albee Theater in Huntington to set priorities for renovations and the transition to a performing arts center.
The Photos of Paul Corbit Brown:" A profile of a W.Va. native whose recent "human rights" photography documents life on the streets of Rwanda for children left behind in the genocide of 1994.
WHAT'S GOING ON
Why Charleston graphic artist and photographer Mark Wolfe shifted from dead people to lives ones for a University of Charleston one-man show.
WE ARE MARSHALL
A report from the "green carpet" at the premiere of "We Are Marshall" with interviews with stars and directors of the movie.
RADIO FREE CHARLESTON
In December, an entire evening at the LaBelle Theater will focus on thegazz.com webcast "Radio Free Charleston." Here's an advance peek at the live music and strange animation program.
*Admission to the event is $4.00
The South Charleston Museum is located in the LaBelle Theatre, 311 D Street, South Charleston, WV. For more information, please contact the museum by telephoning 304.744.9711, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://www.geocities.com/scmuseum/WV_Film_Series.html
The way you see your life shapes your life. How you define life determines your destiny. Your perspectives will influence how you invest your time, spend your money, use your talent, and value your relationships.
What is your view of Life? Does it include a knowledge of your heritage, your state's history,
the people, the culture?
Did you get to the Valdalia Festival this weekend, hosted by the Division of Culture and History? When did you last visit Tamarack? Are you aware of the fine furniture, clothing, glass wares etc make here in West Virginia? Support local craftsmen. Look for made in West Virginia items. hjh
Monday, May 28, 2007
" 'I think this calls for a drink' has long been one of our national slogans." James Thurber
Blenko Glass Company Visitors Center currently has a wide selection of glasses, appropriate size for high balls, wine, a large glass of lemon aide or tea. A large selection of pitchers idea for those Ice Summer Drinks. The current selection in the shop include a wide variety of colors and styles.
It seems everyone wants to have nice bar ware and glasses - why not have
'unique' made in WEST VIRGINIA glassware? BLENKO GLASS COMPANY makes fine tableware in Milton, West Virginia. Phone 304 743 9081 for additional information and directions. hjh
Saturday, May 26, 2007
At a recent talk I heard you answer a question about repairing a glass or clay pot.
I tried to do what you said but it didn't work.
Can you repeat the instructions?
C. Hadsell PhD.
Thank you for writing. The repair 'solution' idea - belongs to Harry Wise of Charleston, WV - a Master Gardener and friend. He suggested to me
that I used GOOP - available at Lowe's or Pyle Hardware. Clean the pot or large glass container, use plastic window screen cut to size, and spread generous amount of goop then add the screen. After its dry add more GOOP over the screen. Let is dry for several days. We have saved several large expensive clay pots this way. Others report having saved 'glass pots'. I don't own the larger glass pots. Hillary
Friday, May 25, 2007
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Venice and America
NOW - Through September 16, 2007
Heinz Galleries Pittsburgh, Pa.
Venice has been a preeminent glass center since the 16th century. European factories and designers for centuries have emulated the city's success by adapting or copying designs associated with the Venetian masters.
In the second half of the 20th century, American artists and designers also started looking to Venice for inspiration, many of them traveling to Venice to work directly with the masters in the factories. These Americans returned to the States and invigorated the country's rapidly growing and flourishing studio glass movement. This flourishing interest in the art of glassmaking prompted Venetian masters to travel to the United States to teach and also to learn; a dialogue between artists began. Venice instilled in the Americans discipline, technical skills, and a new appreciation for color. America gave the Venetians the freedom to challenge and to question.
This exhibition, part of Pittsburgh’s 2007 Year of Glass celebration, will examine the links between Venice and America and their significance, from mid-1950s sculptor Robert Willson’s exploratory visit to Murano and the commissioning of work from American designers by the Venini factory to present-day artists, such as Lino Tagliapietra and Josiah McElheny. The exhibition will present approximately 100 works, which will also be illustrated in the accompanying catalogue.
Viva Vetro! Glass Alive! is organized by Carnegie Museum of Art. The exhibition is supported by Pittsburgh Celebrates Glass. Additional support was provided by the Henry L. Hillman Fund, The Fellows of Carnegie Museum of Art, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
The exhibition catalogue was made possible by The Beal Publication Fund and the Henry Lea Hillman, Jr. Foundation.
We'll be posting photos of this exhibit on Friday and Saturday. hjh
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Monday, May 21, 2007
If I think, I am
If I don't exist, how do
I know about me?
This is in response the WV BLOGGERS RESQUEST FOR POEM!
Gosh! My 10 day break passed to quickly. It was a productive break, we saw Tony Bennett perform, went to Chihuly glass exhibit, studied for national boards, visited THE PURPLE MOON, Taylors Book, Ellen's Ice Cream, Clay center, JMalad Glass, Art Glass Shop & more, we also spent some time with Mr. Bill Blenko and friends at the factory, but more importantly began new friendships.
Anasis Nin said: 'Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.'
Start a Made In West Virginia Collection today - ask questions, make a friend.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
In its first collaboration with Bayliss Design Team, Blenko Glass has created a very special piece to celebrate West Virginia's 144th Birthday. The team's international experience and fresh approach to design combines with the unique skills of Blenko's glass workers. This collaboration has resulted in an object that salutes West Virginia's blue skies and winding rivers.
Two upward reaching clover spirals wrap around a sky blue form reminiscent of rounded hills and mountains in a gesture of freedom and joy. Arlon Bayliss, the team's leader states: "We wanted our first design for Blenko to be very special. Not only is it a privilege to work with this great West Virginia company, it's an additional honor to design a piece that specifically celebrates this beautiful state."
He goes on to say, "This vase was inspired not only by the area's natural wonders. it's also a symbol of a unique collaborative experience between our design team and Blenko, and between Blenko and West Virginia"Bayliss' co-leader and partner, Mary Jo Andersen adds: "This has been an incredible experience for us in so many ways. I can't think of a more fitting 'Thank you' for both Blenko and West Virginia.
*Information taken from http://www.blenkoglass.com/*
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Marvin Lipofsky at Blenko Glass, 1968/ with Shorty Finley, master craftsman
Marvin Lipofsky at Blenko, 1968
So much of BLENKO's history is undocumented - In my research I often heard Joel Myers was the Blenko Designer who inspired, and was inspired by others,that JPM wanted to connect with other artist - that he encouraged many other young artist, it is often said that he was a natural teacher and most generous with other artist. . .JPM liked to work with others, to teach, to learn from and with them, he occasionally would invite glass artist of note down to Milton - to work after hours with him or alone on projects.
Until Wednesday I had no real confirmation of this information. Marvin Lipofsky's note confirms that JPM was indeed someone who reached out to be connected to the 'ART WORLD and felt that all Glass Artist should be Connected'. Joel Philip Myers and Marvin Lipofsky both noted educators and leaders of the Glass Art World. THESE photos are slides provided by M. Lipofsky of his time at Blenko.
This week we received this lovely note and some slides from Marvin Lipofsky - I'm posting a part of the note. "In 1968, Joel Phillip Myers invited me to visit him and work after hours at the factory, which these photos show. We had met in 1964 at the First World congress of Craftsmen at Columbia University, NY. While at Blenko, I did a series of sculptures working by myself at the furnace. This work was exhibited in 1969 in a one-man exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts, NY, NY (now the Museum of Crafts and Design), and also at the Lee Nordness Gallery, NY, NY. "
For those readers who aren't glass addicts some info about Marvin Lipofsky:
Marvin Lipofsky (b. September 1, 1938) is an American glass artist. He was a central figure in the spread of the American studio glass movement, introducing it to California. Lipofsky was born in Barrington, Illinois. In 1962, he earned a BFA in Industrial Design from the University of Illinois, and he went on to earn both an MS and an MFA in Sculpture from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1964. There he studied under Harvey Littleton, the founder of the studio glass movement. He would introduce the concepts of the movement during his subsequent stint as a Design instructor at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught until 1972. During this time, he was responsible for training many studio artists. In 1967, he founded the glass program at the California College of Arts and Crafts, which he headed for two decades. He was also a founder of the Glass Art Society, and has served as editor of its journal. Lipofsky was one of the first American glass artists to travel to Czechoslovakia, where a studio glass movement had arisen in the 1950s. This would prove to be the first of many trips he would take; he became well-known for his journeys abroad and his collaboration with numerous glass artists around the world. Many of Lipofsky's works are colorful "bubbles" of glass, often semi-translucent to allow the viewer to examine their depths. He is also known for works inspired by pop culture he crafted in the 1970s; these include the "Great American Food Series," consisting of sculptures such as hamburgers and pickles crafted from glass. He is known for his surface treatments and for the organic form of his pieces. Lipofsky's work is exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Corning Museum of Glass, the Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto, Japan, the Museums of Decorative Arts in both Bulgaria and Canada, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He resides in Berkeley, California.  References Baizerman, Suzanne. "Marvin Lipofsky: A Glass Odyssey." Oakland Museum of California/University of Washington Press, 2003. White, Cheryl. "Marvin Lipofsky: Roving Ambassador of Glass." American Craft 51 (Oct./Nov. 1991). Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marvin_Lipofsky"
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Today we were at Blenko. As always it was an exciting morning. Randy Rider was in the lead chair - blowing glass. A group of young eager grade school children accompanied by their teachers watching from the observation area. The looks on their faces , mouths open , eyes wide open . .the intensity, the questions to their teachers, the delightful expressions when they saw the hot molten glass being formed into a 'recognizable shape'.
It brought me back a decade and half,to a time when I was standing there watching Shorty Finley ( much like Randy Rider today - the master - blowing glass) .
It's never to early to bring your children to BLENKO or to start to teach them about the heritage and crafts of our great State. This group was brought by their teachers, and most children come for the first time with a SCHOOL group. Many then ask their parents to bring them back.
Visiting Blenko Glass and the other WV Hand Crafted Shops / Manufacturers is important. If your school doesn't have a trip planned for this year speak with your PTO or Administration and start to plan one for next year. Blenko Glass has several educational videos and a new cd that explains the entire glass making process.
You may phone 304 743 9081 and speak with Angie or Diane to get the hours. Its free! It is a great opportunity to learn about Glass making and to see West Virginia's ONLY Antique Glass producing facility.
BlENKO GLASS MILTON, WVa. 304 743 9081 If you haven't been - plan to visit.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Chilhuly dressed as always in mostly black with his black eye patch looking quiet handsome in a aging cherub sort of way. He moves like an angel, and as you watch him move you know that he has the ability to create as easily as he walks.
A dazzling visual experience surprises at every turn in the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Schenley Park. Spaces were designed for to sculptures that rise up from the gardens in a frenzy of color. Yet, the glass fantasies are so perfectly integrated they seem to have flowered there forever. Sublime colored reeds, undulated shapes and monumental sunbursts soar to the skies. Glass balls of every size and shape and shade spill over a weather boat and into a pond. A surreal chandelier casts amber shafts of light on the foliage below and flamboyant frilly edged bowls float over a sunken garden.
If your summer travel plans have you any where near Pittsburgh, I recommend stopping to visit this exhibit.
We later went to hear TONY BENNETT at the Heinz Hall . The Heinz Hall has to be one of the most Beautiful Halls in the country. Tony Bennett is a legend. He spoke of singing with Lena Horn ( he opened with her in Heinz Hall 25+ years ago), and told stories of Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby, and Duke Ellington. All in all it was a great evening for the Geritol Set and one under 30 Dent Student. hjh
Sunday, May 13, 2007
716 Lee Street
304 345 0123
The brochures said " Nestled in the heart of downtown Charleston, The Purple Moon is West Virginia's ONLY shop specializing in mid-century modern design. With an ever changing inventory of vintage mid-century items. The Purple Moon stirves to bring you the best of the period from Heywood-Wakefield, Russel Wright Eva Zeisel, Paul McCobb, Herman Miller, George Nelson and many others."
The Purple Moon has the most delightful collection of VINTAGE BLENKO in West Virginia. Many signed pieces, many very unique items.
The Purple Moon is a place I could 'live' . . . Chuck and his wife a store full of items that I simply adore! Every nook and cranny is full of treasures. . . .you simply must visit and see for yourself!
I took some photos, but only of the Blenko - - the furniture, the art, the phones, the vintage dishes, oh...so many items. The inventory changes daily. . .this is a store you need to visit often.
NOTE: Chuck said :" If you are looking for something, and don't see it...ask ...he'll help you search for it...or he may have it ...at his home!"
Saturday, May 12, 2007
phone 304 342 1461
ANN SAVILLE 's coffee shop and art studio is a marvelous little shop. A visit can last for 30 minutes or the entire afternoon. The coffee and home made foods are excellent, the selection of books (many local authors and a wide selection of magazines), are current. The Art Studio has a large selection of the finest local handcrafted items for sale. This is a wonderful little oasis. Art Classes are also offered for children and adults. In July, Nora Mosrie will be teaching 'Intro to Acrylic Painting. Jim Hores will be teaching Wheel Turning & Handbuilding in May. Wheel Turning in The Afternoon will be taught in June by Tricia Fox. If you are visiting the Capital City anytime in the near future add Taylor Books to your list of places to visit. Its sure to become a favorite. I visit every Saturday morning that I'm in Charleston. Note: Across the street is ELLEN's ICE CREAM SHOP - .Where they serve .. the BEST Ice Cream in West Virginia.
Works of Art by West Virginia artist are offered for sale. A very nice selection of Blenko Glass is also available for purchase. (see photos).
Friday, May 11, 2007
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Eyre reminds us that 20 percent of West Virginia's population live in households NOT connected to a public water system and use well water instead. West Virginia has the sixth lowest percentage of people using public water in the nation. This means 20% of our population has no Fluoride treatment. The CDC has listed water fluoridation as one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the past 100 years.
If you haven't read the series please do, and if you haven't seen your dentist for regular cleanings, make it a priority and start now . . . . don't loose your teeth . . . someone gave me a
needlepoint pillow that states: A tooth is more valuable than diamonds!
Start now to protect the dental health care of your children. hjh
This afternoon, I'll be taking photos of BLENKO GLASS at the Art Shop in Taylor's Bookstore, The Clay Center and at the Purple Moon on Capitol Street. We'll be posting information about the BLENKO available at both sites and photos of the BLenko.
Saturday, May 05, 2007
Gardening - flower and vegetable gardens have long been a favorite hobby for most 'mothers'. This year I'm suggesting you consider purchasing a BLENKO GLASS item as a Garden Gift for Mother's Day.
Some local families report having BLENKO stepping stones (which were once ashtrays) outside for more than a decade.
Blenko makes Frogs, turtle, swans which would look great on or near a water garden. Large heavy BLENKO glass salad bowls make great bird feeders. Blenko glass balls are lovely in a container indoors or out - for added color.
When you visit BLENKO - 'think outside the box' find something you love, and think of all the ways your MOM might use this item in her home or yard. I am posting some random photos of BLENKO in the yard,
.We welcome photos of Blenko in use hjh..
Friday, May 04, 2007
This document was filmed, developed, and produced by Barry DeLibero of Pennsylvania. He has spent literally hundreds of hours getting to know the BLENKO employees and the glass making process. phone 304 743 9081 to reserve your copy. hjh
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Be the first to correctly identify - as a reward for your knowledge - you'll receive a signed Blenko item. Click the Comments link to respond or you may email.
Note: The Martini Glass (the shape) has fascinated me since before junior high, my collection started early. . . the bar ware items in this photo are mostly vintage, mostly made in WV (look 4 exceptions), you need to identify the manufacturer if possible, if someone identifies the company and another reader has the line name or color then obviously the winner will be person with most correct information.
Do you have some interesting Bar ware photos? An older Husted Cocktail pitcher or Anderson glasses? If so please send the photos, so we might share them with others. hjh
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
When I was about 10 years old Mr. Bill Blenko gave me this RR emblem (see photo) it seems while in a conversation with my parents he learned I coveted the Rolls Royce auto, cutting out photos, etc., probably after having seen one in a movie.
I was delighted with the clear glass free standing RR - it sat atop my bookshelf for a decade, while the intensity of my desire to own a Rolls Royce faded, I kept the small glass RR .
It seems behind each 'unusual' Blenko item there is a story. Just recently I learned the story of my 'RR.' Mr. Walter Blenko of Pittsburgh Mr. WH (Bill) Blenko Jr 's Cousin is the proud owner of several Rolls Royce autos and is a member of the Rolls Royce Club of America. Mr Walter Blenko commissioned Blenko Glass Company ( after all his grandfather was the founder) to make the RR as a gift for each member who attended the national RRCA meeting.
Although a very generous and thoughtful gift from Mr. Walter Blenko this little glass keep sake is probably long forgotten by most attending the RRCA meeting that year. It now sits on the dresser in my college home, a reminder of a simpler time , when having a Rolls Royce on your bulletin board was cool. hjh
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
This is also true of BLENKO GLASS Collectors. There are collectors who collect only one color, one designer, one year, one line, items from one catalogue, those who have warehouses full of Blenko.
The Texas Blenko Collectors - I always seem to envy the Texas Collectors, they have a well established study group, a definite structure, an established schedule, they work together, they share information, they enjoy glass and one another. ' They' are what belonging to a good glass group is all about. Unselfish love, wanting the whole to be better than the individual, or knowing the whole will be improved as the individual grows.
Many folks start collecting BLENKO because of another collection, perhaps you collect OWLS, RAMS, PIGS, Squirrels, Barn yard Animals, Frogs, Angels . . . . you get the IDEA . . . BLENKO makes all of these . . . .and so many other items.
In my own life, I find sometimes the 'search for' the item is such fun. For nearly 10 years I had 'looked' for a black top hat, and a Blenko water bottle with a handle. Last year Karin and Tim Alonzo were kind enough to introduce me to their friend who was selling a water bottle with handle ( I d love another), and this year Billy at Dixie's phoned to say he 'found' a Black Top Hat! It's exciting to find ' Blenko'. But the search is so much fun.
If you don't collect Blenko. Think about getting started. Before you buy, learn as much as you can, so you don't become a warehouse. You should have knowledge, know what you want to buy, and what you should expect to pay. Then go out and look for the item. Ask questions and be open to making new friends along the way. Some time ago I posted a list of antique / resale / glass stores in the Huntington area (sent in by readers) I expect to have some free time next week and while I won't be driving to Huntinton, I will go to visit the Purple Moon on Capitol Street (new to me) a resale store whose owner seems to be channeling my inner child (simple line decor and vintage blenko).
Remember the BLENKO COLLECTORS SOCIETY will be holding their annual meeting, Milton, West Virginia in August. You don't have to be a member to go - you may find yourself wanting to join after you visit with these folk.
Photo of figurines made by: Randy Rider, Shorty Finley, Joel Myers, Les Womack, Charlie Chapman, and JarFly