Title

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.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Signature On Glass?


Blenko Glass (http://www.blenkoglass.com/ Milton, West Virginia) is sold in locations all over the USA and Mr. Richard Blenko travels frequently to speak about Blenko and West Virginia Glass, and to conduct glass signings.

If you happen to live in or near Milton, you have the opportunity to have glass signed 5 or 6 times a year. For me there is nothing quiet like having a photo of the person signing 'my glass'.

Blenko has always been a family owned, customer friendly, low tech, low key, gentle place. Take step back into time and visit BLENKO GLASS where everything is hand made in West Virginia by West Virginians.

Note: Photo of Richard Blenko - Blenko Glass, Milton, WVa 2008

16 comments:

westvirginiajanis said...

If Richard Blenko would wear a white or tan sweater, the glass would really stand out in these photos of his signing the glass. (If you are reading this, please wear a light colored shirt on August 23rd so that the glass will really show up.

I believe Raspberry Ice was the color Mr. Bayliss said was created by accident when working on a new purple. It looks lovely in the photo. It would be a nice color for one of the traditional water pitchers. I'm trying to get a water pitcher in every color. (They stack, store, and show so nicely)! Who wouldn't want to drink iced tea out of a "Raspberry Ice" pitcher!?? Beautiful!

WV Janis

Anonymous said...

Will Richard Blenko be there on Augst 23rd?
Margie Hale

saltonannu said...

Recall reading that Hilary
thought the Blenko employees were blessed with the fountain of youth one has only to look at the Blenko family members from this blog, Walter, Bill, Richard to believe this is true statement. Also the employees to be 80 and returning to demonstrate glass making?
Blenko is indeed a unique atmosphere. With anticipation to learn more.

saltonannu said...

Westvirginiajanis i so enjoy your comments and observations, not often do i comment but i read weekly.

westvirginiajanis said...

Thanks for the kind words, "saltonannu." I thank Hillary for providing this forum for us to discuss WV glass/Blenko. Such an indulgence to be able to log on when one wants and be involved on one's own terms with no obligation. My dream is to start a blog but I'm just not ready. For now, I will take advantage of Hillary's great service to the glass-loving community. I can be long-winded, but try to make my comments worthwhile!

I try to learn as much as I can about glass. When going places like the Blenko Visitor's Center, I ask lots of questions and feel obligated to share as "glass people" are usually so GENEROUS with information.

On a related note-- I just read a great article in the New York Times on July 29th about glass (The Nature of Glass Remains Anything but Clear). Glass is a real mystery to the scientific community because when they peer into the molecules, glass is indiscernible from a liquid. Glass has the properties of both a solid and a liquid. Think about that the next time you drink that GLASS of water!!!!!!!

On the observation deck of BLENKO, one really gets the sense of the liquid/solid aspect of glass. Melt, cool, reheat, cool, Break by accident, throw in pile an melt, and repeat process.

West Virginia Janis

Anonymous said...

I HAVE A FAVOR TO ASK OF EVERYONE THAT READS THIS....I will start by saying that I live in Milton and have always LOVED Blenko Glass( i love the fact of collecting glass that is one of a kind...no two pieces are exactly alike)But i have been troubled recently by the fact that the company is not doing much(ie sale wise) they are laying off the blowers because of not having very many orders going out. So i beg anyone that reads this to please stop by the visters center a buy some pieces or order by phone or online so this truly unique company stays alive and please encourage anyone you know to do the same BECAUSE IF NOT THE END OF BLENKO GLASS MAY JUST BE RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER!!!!!

westvirginiajanis said...

Regarding the plea from anonymous:

.... I beg anyone that reads this to please... buy some pieces.... so this truly unique company stays alive.... THE END OF BLENKO GLASS MAY JUST BE RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER!!!!!

You are preaching to the choir. Many of us who read this blog purchase hundreds of dollars of Blenko a year. Of course we will tell our friends. However, Blenko will have to do their part too. Richard Blenko's travels to sign, appearances on shopping networks, etc. help get the word out. The special events (Birthday piece and August 23rd piece) are a huge boost (although two within 60 days of each other is a bit tight for those of us who travel and without unlimited disposable income). The Southern Living spread should help. Someone in the Blenko company needs to aggressively pursue getting Blenko NOTICED. It would be great if Domino magazine and Domino magazine's Blog would feature one of those blurbs. Mr. Bayliss talked about commissioning a few high end pieces. If Niemann Marcus or some other high-end department store would offer a piece, exclusive through them, that would help. Blenko doesn't have the capacity or ability to compete with the Chinese to market to Target or Pier One or other national stores-- although, the right person is out there to take those classic water bottles and make a mint off of them. If Blenko can find its niche market, it will thrive. Although the economy is bad, it is REALLY bad for importing. Plus we are still riding the "buy American" wave.

Blenko is amazing and can do about anything with glass. Do you know that they are the one place in America that can supply replacement glass for those glass cylinders (about 1 1/2") that get built into the sidewalks of NY that let light into the basements? Do you know they can make just about any kind of trophy or recognition piece that a company needs? Mr. (Bill) Blenko told me about an award they made for a frozen-food company, a penguin on top of a bagel. They made a country music award. They made an award for some car company (I am not a car person, sorry Hillary). A great account for repeat business would be great. Blenko can't get the Oscars, surely, someone out there needs a great trophy. Get Oprah to make trophies for the authors whose books she recommends. Get a Blenko human interest story on Oprah (save me four tickets). If Oprah is behind something it THRIVES.

They make glass bricks that are great in shower stalls. Maybe they could set up some kind of a display in the Visitors' Centers (I'm talking rest stops) for all to see as they travel through WV.

The hundreds of dollars from the dozen or so who contribute faithfully to this blog helps but aggressive marketing is what it will take.

The Blenko website is looking better and better every day. A great start would be a massive campaign to get people to link to it.

Right now, I have to leave this long winded post to get back to work so I can buy more Blenko ( I need a pulled, swung vase)! Thank you "anonymous" for your post but PLEASE drive on over to the factory and encourage marketing to keep working. The product is a great one!

West Virginia Janis

Anonymous said...

west virginia janis is so right on Blenko needing to do some very aggressive marketing to get noticed in the US market. (The car award, by the way, was for a vintage race car organization) The only Blenko the magazines seem to be writing about is the vintage work. Nothing about what is happening today. All the articles in trade magazines make no difference to the the retail shopper, and that's who they need to focus on. Pricey tho it is, an ad in the big magazines, Domino, House Beautiful, Traditional Home, Southern Living, Victoria, would show they are alive and available. Christy at Blenko, do you have any "push" to suggest this? If no one knows you're still around, you soon won't be. That's what will happen to Blenko if they don't get "out there".
Car Girl

Anonymous said...

saltonannu has left a new comment on your post "Zen & The Glass Festival 22-23":

This comment is for Car Girl and Christy and WVJanis
and about Blenko -Marketing.
I agree wholeheartedly with everything that was said, except we are putting pressure on our only Blenko contact. Who may or may not be in a position to spend dollars.
Blenko had the excellent market tool of PBS - While I saw the Blenko Series one too many times during my Residency (7 years
it was shown 2 times a year it seemed on PBS - a New film an exciting film about this new exciting - here I'm borrowing WVJanis expertise as I haven't seen him Designer would be in quick order. Blenko is still handsome and photogenic, the designer looks good. As a society we want to be sold things from attractive people, we want to believe the attractive people and their product. Blenko is an attractive product Use these people and Sell the Product. Get the Word out to the Masses.
PBS Viewers generally are well educated and spend money.
I started buying Blenko due to PBS, I found this Blog while googling Blenko for a gift.
Thank you for letting me share.
You have a good product. Scream it from the Roof Top
Get the word Out Beyond W Va.
While I think most of us who comment do not live in West Virginia, the majority of Hilary readers are WV based.
Oh, yes. Hilary this does not mean you are no longer needed.
You daily provide an excellent service.
If Blenko isn't saying Thank You often they should be.

Publish this comment.

Reject this comment.

Anonymous said...

westvirginiajanis im not meaning to sound pushy and i do understand that blenko markiting needs to do some serious work but they really dont seem to care i wont say how i know this but crackle barrell wanted an order for 30,000.00 dollers worth of water bottles a month and they truned it down!!!! They truly need to get someone in there that has expierence in major marketing! Right now it just seems that the employees(beyond the finishers & plant workers) right now dont really care if it lasts or not. i read in an article that Rick is just the face of blenko now it is actually ran by Ricks uncle and cousin Walter and Don Blenko now. they need to take more control of whats going on over there and realize that they need to do some major marketing!

bridgett said...

Annonymous Someone Needs to Sound Pushy
and it should be the people who own Blenko.
I'm afraid for me Rick Blenko is the face of Blenko, it needs more than a face. It needs some brains deciding what to do, there are many people within the factory who have experience and know the customer base are they involved in the marketing and plans? It sounds as if some 'person' or persons decide what happens or won't happen. Perhpas not Blenko.
Until this week I was think RB was at fault, but reading the comments about marketing and lack of communication from within.
Systematic problems.
Cracker Barrell at one time had Blenko bottles or else I bought some good china glass that looked like Blenko from Cracker Barrell.
Speaking of Blenko I've been six times now Mr. WH is the absolute most charming and fact filled older gentleman. We were entertained by his stories one afternoon in shop.

bridgett said...

Annonymous Someone Needs to Sound Pushy
and it should be the people who own Blenko.
I'm afraid for me Rick Blenko is the face of Blenko, it needs more than a face. It needs some brains deciding what to do, there are many people within the factory who have experience and know the customer base are they involved in the marketing and plans? It sounds as if some 'person' or persons decide what happens or won't happen. Perhpas not Blenko.
Until this week I was think RB was at fault, but reading the comments about marketing and lack of communication from within.
Systematic problems.
Cracker Barrell at one time had Blenko bottles or else I bought some good china glass that looked like Blenko from Cracker Barrell.
Speaking of Blenko I've been six times now Mr. WH is the absolute most charming and fact filled older gentleman. We were entertained by his stories one afternoon in shop.

Anonymous said...

Rumour has it that uncle and cousin are "bean counters", with no idea how to run a creative business and no interest in doing any marketing. "It costs money" to market the company, and they won't spend it. Not returning phone calls is inexcusable in any business, and "noticeably imperfect" items should be marked and priced as such. Even if the marketing person is competent, that's a company mindset that's almost impossible to deal with.
Damon Crain is very knowledgeable, but he seems to see the glass more as "high art" decorative, than a mix of decorative and useful that most collectors/buyers are looking for. Personally, some colors are more pleasing to me than others. I do avoid the vintage "olive green" and much of the "tangerine/amberina". Just personal preference. Color is usually the first thing that catches my eye in the VC. When the sun is shining, it's like a rainbow in there.

Car Girl

Hillary J Homburg said...

Cargirl
Thank you for your comment.
Damon runs a very successful glass art business, and he does know marketing. However, I agree with you about color being important -perhaps we have too many, I dunno but it is important. I've heard & read the comments about Blenko and sunshine numerous times.
Re: his PBS comment my Blenkoproject involved people with no ties to blenko or collectors handling out surveys in high end malls and the people wrote PBS is how I heard about Blenko, some wrote comments about buying blenko years ago at a now non existent department store, some did not know Blenko was still functioning.
But PBS was listed on a high number.
So perhaps for this 'crowd' unlike the people with 'real money' who shop with Damon, note: here I confess- I'd like very much to some day be one of those people. {It would be nice to phone someone else to search for my waterbottles with handles - I think!} Also, I just like Damon, love to read what he writes, and try to determine why he makes the statements he does. With each article Damon writes I learn something.
My honest belief is Damon like Blenko almost as much as I do, but he is angry with what he sees as 'it being stuck' not taking control of its destiny.
We all want the same thing. We want to buy quality glass, we want to buy made in the USA, and we certainly prefer to have everything made in Milton, West Virginia by the workers we know.
I say this often, but the men at Blenko, are the finest group of people I have ever known, they say what they mean, they do what they say they will, they all work very hard and they want very much to be successful. Let's support them and Blenko.
The other stuff isn't really anything we can control. We don't have access to management. We are customers all of us.
Customers with opinions and great affection for the product, and the craftsmen.

Anonymous said...

There is absolutely no truth to the Cracker Barrel rumor. Blenko sold water bottles to Cracker Barrel several years ago, but buyers changed and store layouts changed and they did not re-order the product. Blenko would never turn down an order from Cracker Barrel for bottles.

Christy @ Blenko said...

As far as I know Rick will be here on 22-23. We were waiting to see when he was making his annual trip to England and that is next month. We do not have him on the schedule for signing, but am sure he will be available.