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.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Celebration of Life

Last evening my parents, Eon and I went to the VFW CLUB in Milton for the Celebration of Winslow Andersons life.

Hearing the gentlemen and ladies who are regulars at the VFW speak about the Winslow they knew, the keen wit, the wealth of knowledge about all subjects, his ability to engage one into conversation. They repeated stories he had told them of his adventures in New York City, traveling with his boat and life. Listening to this group I discovered the answer to the question: Why did Winslow return to Milton? Answer: It was home, his home, his friends, people who allowed him to be himself and who loved him.

The Mr. Anderson I knew always seemed larger than life, I was always a bit frightened in his presence, yet he was always very gentle and patiently answered my many questions. I never understood why he returned to Milton. He would always say something that I heard as "Hillary, after you grow older and travel, you will understand the need to live near your friends and the family you make." Tonight I met Winslows extended family, his friends and his reason for
returning to Milton.

During one of my visits to Milton, Winslow and I met for lunch. He said " I was a very handsome young man, you would have thought so Hillary." I told him, I thought he looked very handsome even today. He insisted on taking us back to his cottage to view a lifesize painting of himself- a very handsome young man indeed.

In my last visit with him he spoke fondly of Milton, the Polan family, Mr. Blenko, the "collectors", his own mother, and of young Rick's wife bringing food for him. Winslows this day would move back in forth in time at a rapid pace. Winslow loved life and I don't think he feared death. When I once said I'll be home in September and I'll come by. He quickly stated: "I may or maybe here." Then smiled.

Winslow Anderson was a great artist, a wonderful friend to many, a patriotic man, a kind and gentle man. I wish I had known him longer and better.

Damon Crain, curator of the BLENKO MUSEUM sent the following tribute to Winslow Anderson.

A tribute to Winslow Anderson, a great and unique talent who just passed away peacefully this Monday, December 10.

Winslow was a force to be reckoned with, an enormously talented and visionary glass designer who brought modern design and a new aesthetic to American hand blown glass through his work with the Blenko Glass Company as its first resident designer. If you are not familiar with Winslow’s biography or his work, please do take a look at his history on this page of the Blenko Museum’s website:

On a personal note, from the many hours and days I have spent chatting with Winslow, visiting with him in his home, I can attest that he was a truly marvelous and charismatic person. My first impression was of an eccentric, intelligent and brusque person who would not mince words. But I quickly learned that there was much more than that. He was a complex man who I suggest can be seen as bridging a dramatic moment in our culture’s history and appropriately full of contradictions; gracious yet forthright, modest yet proud, social yet private, well rounded yet focused, and more oddly, a landlocked seafarer and a tremendously cultured man who chose to live out his life in a cultural speck of a town despite his great love for New York City, Haiti, and world travel.

May he rest in peace knowing that he had a great impact on our lives. The next time you look at a vase he designed in your collection, please think fondly of this man who has brought much beauty to this world and our lives.

Damon Crain
Vintage Modern glasshouse


Anonymous said...

Miss Homburg
Did not recognize you without the red flower in your hair.
Wonderful meeting you and your family last evening.
The VFW Club is always open to you. Come back.

Anonymous said...

I thought Anderson was your fave designer. From things you said about classic and simple.
I didn't know Winslow although I am friends with folk in Huntington who consider him a friend.
I was aware of the tremdous gifts he gave to HMOA and other causes.
Your statements about Winslow prove yet once again you are an old sole in a young body.
Thank you for the insight to W. Anderson and for entertaining me daily.

Anonymous said...

enough already about Eon. We have grown tired of seeing his name.
Stick to Blenko Glass.

lewisdvmphd said...

Wonderful tribute to Mr. Winslow Anderson from both you and
Damon Crain.
Sharing your thoughts and love of an individual is the greatest
I am attempting to do this before the passing.
Enjoyed the post about Mr. Winslow Anderson.

westvirginiajanis said...

When I interviewed Bill Blenko, Jr. this summer, he spoke very highly of Winslow. He told a few amusing anecdotes about Winslow's adventures in New Jersey with Lennox. Mr. Blenko welcomed Winslow back to Milton and in no way held a grudge for his leaving Blenko. He even mentioned encouraging Winslow to design something again. Winslow declined saying that the only way he would design would be if he were at the factory to oversee quality. In speaking about Winslow, Mr. Blenko chuckled and made a comment along the line of, "designers are a special breed."

A sense of "the Blenko family" exudes from Mr. Blenko as he talks. He spoke highly of the designers who have worked for him, of Hilary and of the employees at the factory. In my four hours there, I left knowing why Mr. Anderson would want to return and immerse himself in the world of Milton, Blenko, exquisite, hand-blown glass.

We all need to write down our "Winslow Anderson" memories so that he will not be forgotten. The Aztecs say there are three deaths: one when the heart stops beating, one when the body is lowered into the ground, and one when there is nobody left to remember a person. Fortunately, we still have people around to remember this fabulous designer. So, in a way, Winslow Anderson lives.

West Virginia Janis

lewisdvdphd said...

w.va. Janis,
Your comments are very much like my own. I met Mr. WH Blenko for the first time in Sept by accident I came to the store. He was there, we met and talked for more than 45 minutes. Delightfully, brillant, older, sometimes off subject but entertaining and obviously well educated, well traveled gentleman.
Well bred, I don't know that they make them like Mr. WH Blenko any longer.
My humble opinion.

westvirginiajanis said...

"....I don't know that they make them like Mr. WH Blenko any longer."

Well said, lewisdvmphd. Moving gracefully, Mr. Blenko surrounds himself with beautiful people and stunning craftsmanship. It is as if he is an English country gentleman, Blenko is his estate, and Milton, his kingdom.

Additionally, they don't make places like Milton, WV any longer-- very early 20th century.

West Virginia Janis

Dr.BOB said...

Come by my office someday
I home photos and other object of rememberances of Winslow I'll give to you. We were friends with his long time special friend.

Hillary J Homburg said...

Dr. Bob
May I suggest you phone Blenko Glass 743 9081 ask for Rodney Wade they may want the items you have for the Blenko Museum on 2nd floor of the Visitors Center.
I am a Dental Student - have no means to keep archival documents. If this doesn't work, let me know.