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.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

BLENKO - The People - Hinton 'Jarfly' Richmond

"Jarfly" Richmond is described by those who worked with him as gentle, but big, a person who went out of his way to be helpful, a colorful figure and a large part of the 'Blenko' history. Mr. Richmond worked at Blenko Glass when the very elite Glass Artist such as Marvin Lipofsky, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marvin_Lipofsky - 17k , Henry Halem www.clevelandartandhistory.org/HTMLPages/artists/Hartists.htm and Fritz Driesbach www.askart.com/askart/d/fritz_dreisbach/fritz_dreisbach.aspx - 28k - were 'exploring factory glass work'...invited by Mr. WH Blenko and Joel Myers.

The Putnam Post April 30, 2004 had the following to say:
HINTON "Jarfly" RICHMOND(Apr 30, 2004)HINTON "Jarfly" RICHMOND, of Huntington, loving husband of Emma Jean Richmond, departed this life on April 28, 2004. at St. Mary�s Medical Center after a short illness. He was born November 26, 1926 in Milton, W.Va., the son of the late Hinton and Bessie Ball Richmond. He was retired from Blenko Glass Company with 48 years of service as a glass blower and Plant Manager. He is survived by his loving wife of 54 years, Emma Jean Richmond, also three children.

Richard Blenko - CEO at Blenko Glass wrote the following about Hinton " Jarfly" Richmond.
Jarfly Richmond came to work before WWII and joined the Army and was stationed overseas in Japan as a cook. He was 5'7'' tall and weighed about 230 pounds. He was one of the best glass blowers in Blenko's history and enormously strong, which helps in manipulating glass. No task was too heavy, too complicated for Jarfly. He also had strong work ethic peculiar to the pre and post war employees. It was an earlier time of surviving the war and hard living and drinking. No matter how late the night was the day before, these fellows always came to work on time and performed. Jar was part of this group that was very intelligent and highly skilled. To have someone produce more glass than you was an affront to their abilities. No one could outwork Jar or work harder in his blowing skills. He was a good problem solver and worked with all the Blenko designers from 1947 to his retirement in the late 1980s. I used to spend hours talking with Jar in his office and always found him to be a confidant and father figure: when there were personal problems; he was a perveyor of sound advice and always supportive. When he left Blenko, we were never quite the same and the end of an era. He was a bulldog of man and in fear of no one or in awe or wealth or skill; he often told me, he came into this world with nothing and there was nothing he wanted or needed. As men of this era were, he was a dapper dresser with wavy hair and a soft voice which belied his enormous physical strength; he had an infectious smile. When he died I lost a friend, a collaborator and the type of fellow that will not be seen again.
Wayne Husted - Designer and Glass Artist living/working in California - Former Blenko designer who worked with "jarfly" remembers
"... I feel sure that you have found that the reason all the guys called him “Jarfly” was because he was always like a fly in a jar... buzzing around continuously. He was always very busy and on top of things - I thought he was a carry-in boy when I started at Blenko and progressed to either finisher or blower. He later moved into management I think, he was very well liked by everyone at Blenko.
Note: The photo used in this article was provided by Tammy Kosla Blenko Collector Society President
We hope to post some additional factory photos of 'Jarfly' Richmond.
If you knew Mr. Hinton "jarfly" Richmond please leave a note or send photos, we want to share the stories and your memories. Thanks HJH
Note: Thanks to Tammie Kosloa President Blenko Collectors Society for photo of 'Jarfly' with Don Sheperd who was a designer for Blenko.


sweetdoc said...

Enjoy always learning about west virginia glass.
You haven't answered my questions from 2 weeks ago.

Anonymous said...

Did Henry Halem and those other people whose websites you have work for or at Blenko? I am confused a bit.
I looked them up, great artist.
Patricia G. Moore

bridgett said...

The photos are always interesting, but these columns written by or about Blenko employees are veryspecial. I expect to enjoying feeling 'at home' when I visit.

Anonymous said...

Did the road get
officially named
Bill Blenko Drive?
Keep us posted.
The Blenko family have given much to Milton, I was pleased to read this article by Ricky. Blenkos are quality people.

Dr.BOB said...

Another outstanding well researched bit of information about West Virginia Glass.
Good Job.
Do you graduate in May?
Will you stop the blog after graduation?
How is dental school treating you?

Anonymous said...

Great idea this Blenko the people. Hope you will get Rick to do another.Jim remember me from ?

nick said...

Is 'jaarfly' the chunky one in the photo?