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.

Thursday, December 31, 2009


Are you a new collector of West Virginia Glass? Did your Holiday Gifts include colorful West Virginia glass ?

If it did and you want to learn more about Blenko Glass and West Virginia Glass check out http://www.blenkoproject.org/ we'll be making major changes to the http://www.blenkoglass.org/ website this summer, our goal is 1). to include more West Virginia Glass Companies (new and old) and to add and feature the retired glass craftsmen who have worked or are working in the tri state.
2) Keeping alive the ' glass heritage,' having children learn and discover the rich history of glass making in West Virginia.
3) To promote any and all glass making , glass design classes within driving distance of West Virginia.
4) To stimulate your desire to collect glass and to learn more. To feature glass available for sale.
5) To promote WV Glass and Glass makers.
We welcome your visit, your comments, and please tell your friends to stop by.

Note: Photo of Blenko Punch bowl set from a Georgia collector, we received 2 dozen + emails asking where to purchase this. This set is beautiful, and on my wish list. Like Bruce and Deb of Texas, if I had the punch bowl I'd be forced to host parties with cookies and punch. Delightful Blast from the Past!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

FROM WV JANIS a New Year Wish

As 2009 comes to a close, I am thankful to have obtained a 2009 BLENKO WV Birthday piece. She is very photogenic next to her Northern Panhandle cousins. My New Year's Resolution is to try to spend more time photographing WV glass.
WV Janis

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


'Nearly all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected.' Carl Sandburg

Keep this in mind when you shop BLENKO GLASS in Milton, WV for the after Holiday Sale - check the clearance tables in the rear of the shop!


Monday, December 28, 2009

Blenko Stopper Repairs

I promised you before and after photos, and here they are. The 6734 decanter in plum was purchased in 2004. I don’t recall what I paid for it, but I did get a discount on it as the stopper was badly chipped. Though the stopper was very poorly repaired, most of the pieces were present. Because most of the original glass was there, Wayne Montano was able to reform it out of the original plum glass. The 6418 decanter in olive green was purchased earlier this year. I ended up paying about $85 for it, again because of the damage to the stopper. In this case, there was a lot of glass missing. Wayne cut off the damaged portion, and added clear glass to reshape the base of the stopper. When repairing something like this, he needs both the stopper and the bottle. When he is reshaping the stopper it will be seated properly in the decanter so that it will display as intended.
Montano has repaired glass for years, and has done work on various pieces of my mother’s collection, as well as my Blenko pieces. If you are considering purchasing a less than perfect piece of Blenko, consider including the price of repair in the total. Check their website: http://www.montanosglassrepair.com/ to see if they will be at a show, or an antique shop near you. You can drop off your glass, get an estimate of the repair cost, and what it will entail. Wayne will not overcharge you, and will deliver quality work.
Montano's Antique Glass Repair
c/o The UPS Store
828 S. Washington Ave #128
Emmett, ID 83617
In Idaho: 208-398-8722
Outside of Idaho Toll Free: 1-888-998-8722
Cell Phone: 1-760-475-7867
Fax: 208-398-8722
Thanks for continuing to maintain the blog!

It Was The Night Before Christmas . . . .

Each year on the 24th my parents and I share a Christmas tradition that include: last minute shopping then home to new pajamas and robe for each of us, snacking on finger foods, watching a Christmas movie, my Dad will then read the classic childrens story 'Tis Was The Night Before Christmas."

The time is 12:00 Christmas Eve we finished the last minute shopping, and on our way home, actually 2 blocks from our home , w h e n we were involved in a car crash. Someone slowed to turn left on to Beach, as a car suddenly& quickly drove down Edgewood Drive and drive #1 had to stop, then driver #2 a van applied breaks and driver #3 applied breaks - all in all three cars were damaged. My Dad's 2008 Benz a Holiday gift from a year or so ago was badly damaged - the Benz just crumpled, my Dad couldn't open his door, fluids were coming from the car by what seemed like buckets. My Dad who is 60+ had never been involved in an accident before this, not even a fender bender. He was just 'in shock', my Mom and I veterans of accidents were a little more calm, this one happen so quickly, we were going less than 25 miles per hour and the car crumpled.

The good news is other than having my glasses broken, and a scratch between the eyes. NO ONE was hurt. Everyone kept cool, no one was happy to have this be their Christmas Eve, but all three drivers and the passengers were pleasant to one another.

As our car was being towed away - - - - My Mom was dialing the phone for help, I learned even the Airport Car Rental Stores close at noon on Xmas eve? My Mom then called our State Farm Agents office to report the accident and was told by Marylin (an office worker) to call back after 5pm and the voice mail would take her directly to State Farm 800 number, she (Marylin) didn't know the number! The time was 12:15! We later found humor in the State Farm office workers response, h o w e v e r, I doubt that I'll be a lifelong State Farm customer. My parents have been insured by State Farm Insurance for almost 35 years ( car accident free), the response to this accident from Marylin or lack of response . . . well . . . .I expect either to be connected to an 800 number or to have the 'person' respond with some compassion & or information.

Several hours later as my Dad read our Christmas Story . . . . I thought about the people without electric power, my Mingo County family who has been without electricity for 9 days, the homeless, the unemployed, the soldiers away from home, those without family or faith.

Today let us all rejoice in the reason for the season, and be compassionate, giving and kind to everyone. Wait, can we try this for the entire year of 2010? Let us resolve to be patient, compasionate, giving and kind to everyone.

A Late "Merry Christmas To You And Your Family!"

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Orange Crush

Reader Sarah sent these photos of vases she is planning to purchase on line. Blenko Glass located in Milton, W.Va (304 743 9081) has many ORANGE / Tangerine items available for purchase in the outlet / gift shop. Sarah's letter follows.

Attached are two photos of glass I want to buy both items are marked tangerine. They are both marked Blenko. The color is not the same. Are these Blenko? Are they Blenko Orange? Which should I buy?
My son loves the color orange.
Sarah, I also love orange. The tall cylinder vase is a Husted vase - it maybe an older orange, the other is Bravo a Bayliss design in the color 'tangerine' which I believe is newer color.
Orange has enchanted Persian poet, bewitched Indian Rajah and captivated most all American housewives in the 70s. No one 'does Orange' like Blenko.
Blenko ORANGE and the new TANGERINE . . .steals hearts!
Blenko ORANGE in sunshine is heavenly.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Perfect Gift?

You've Got Christmas Cash - We've got the perfect gift!
Fruit Basket, necktie, candy, bread, gift basket, cashmere sweaters, . . . . .if none of the gifts you received were the one you needed to feel loved and appreciated.

Think BLENKO, at Blenko Glass" there is something for everyone on your list," you also deserve to feel loved, and appreciated , gift yourself glass art.

Blenko Glass in Milton, WV 304 743 9081. The online website has a coupon you may use in the outlet or on line. A clearance table is always available at the outlet/visitors center shop - (no one has to know - you paid %50 less than retail.

After Christmas Sale Begins / BLENKO GLASS

Shown in photo is a collector item - Bill Blenko Vase. NOT AVAILABLE at the After Christmas Holiday Sale.
Check the website for coupons and times.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas. . . .

Today we wish for each of you a peaceful, calm, day to spend with family and friends.

Merry Christmas To Everyone!

Last Shopping Day Before Christmas !

My Uncle Skip lives in Charleston, South Carolina. Each year he does all his Holiday Shopping on Dec 24th. as a child I found this both exciting and a bit
odd as my parents shopped all year for this Holiday!
Yet somehow Uncle Skip always gave the very best gifts, enjoyed the Holiday even more than most adults, and never seemed stressed.
Now I'm not suggesting you wait until 12/24....however, if you haven't completed the shopping or you want to shop its not too late.
This year I'll continue to make 'cookies and cakes' for friends. I've never enjoyed shopping. To be honest, I don't like spending money, but I do enjoy walking around shopping centers, watching people, enjoying coffee or a meal with friends.
If you haven't made arrangements to attend a midnight mass or church service this week, check your newspaper for local services.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

1 Shopping Days Til Christmas

Tomorrow is the last shopping day before Christmas. http://www.blenkoglass.com/ the online shop is open 24/7. Gifts ordered now will not arive before Christmas. The Blenko Glass giftshop / outlet is open daily phone 304 743 9081 to check times or available items.
To learn more about Blenko and WV Glass check out http://www.blenkoproject.org/.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

December 23rd - Tomorrow is the Last Shopping Day

Blenko Glass http://www.blenkoglass.com/ shop on line or at the Milton, WV
outlet / Gift Shop.

Blenko Glass made in West Virginia, this season buy Made In the USA
and when possible shop your local merchants.
Photo of Blenko bowl available in several colors on line and also at the Visitors Center in Milton, WV.

Wedding Vase #789L

You'll find this on the Blenko Glass website listed as a wedding vase. Its often used in floral arrangements - large floral arrangements in receptions, wedding inaugurations of Presidents etc.
Blenko Glass www.blenkoglass.com you'll find 'just what you need' at Blenko Glass.
The vase pictured is about $112. plus shipping and handling.

3 Shopping Days Til Christmas

Today take some time out visit an elderly neighbor. Or better yet ask hm or her if you might do an errand for them.
Blenko Glass online www.blenkoglass.com is open 24/7 gifts ordered now will NOT arrive before Christmas. My suggestion is drive down to Milton, WV and shop the Outlet - Gift Shop. Many shelves are marked down and there is a clearance shelf in the rear of the store.
Happy Shopping!

Monday, December 21, 2009


I feel stupid when I read the blog and people know colors and numbers and years of production.
How do you all know this?

Don't include me - in the 'you all' but many readers and a large number of collectors know all the line item numbers and can site a 1,000 or so colors. These folk read and study, shop a lot, and belong to small groups that promote glass. I would recommend Dean Six's group in Weston, WV if you can make it to WV once a month. Email me at theblenkoproject@aol.com for additional info.

One thing I've found with glass collectors - all are willing to share information. So ASK, when you have a question, you'll get answers, many answers. Good Luck!

" It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer." Albert Einstein

Four Shopping Days Til Xmas

www.blenkoglass.com You may shop online 24/7 for wonderful made in West Virginia Glass gifts.
This year make your Christmas a Made In the USA Christmas. Shop Local when possible.
To learn more about Blenko Glass check out www.blenkoproject.org.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Best Holiday Gift for Under $50

Blenko Glass # 384 Water Bottle. The longest running item in the Blenko Glass catalog. The waterbottle is a pre designer item.
Its 8 inches high, holds 36 ounces and comes in a variety of colors. My favorites are ruby, cobalt, and gold (harvest).

At $42 plus shipping & tax this item can be yours! http://www.blenkoglass.com/
This season, please buy local, support your local merchants. Check the label and BUY MADE IN THE USA when possible. hjh

Oil Lamp - Appalachian Glass

Still looking for Holiday Gifts? Check out Appalachian Glass in Weston, W.Va.
Appalachian Glass - Weston, W.Va.

Hand crafted one of a kind items.

This beautiful oil lamp is less than $25.

Last Day To Send Your Xmas Tree Photos - Blenko or WV Glass

We'll publish on the 25 / 26 .

Searching for Blenko Collectors

Dr. Homburg

We live in Mineral Wells and collect Blenko and Harmon glass. Every other weekend we are out there at estate sales or flea markets searching for newbies for our collection.

Last year we decided to join the Blenko collector group w/o success can you update us on this group or make suggestions for glass groups we can join?
Harvey and Jane D.

Thank you for reading Heart of Glass and for collecting Blenko Glass. I have no new information about the Blenko Collectors Society - Sweetdoc has a group of about 20 people that meet the first Wednesday evening of each month, Doc Bob in the eastern panhandle belongs to a group of 50 people that collect American glass, Chitra belongs to a group of 15 or so - there are small groups of serious collectors.

Perhaps we should decide to proclaim a date and time and "meet" after June 30th I'm available. While I won't have time to be responsible for a group I'd love to be involved in a Blenko or American glass group.
* photo is # 2040 Snowmen from the Blenko Glass http://www.blenkoglass.com/ website.
$5 on each 25$ coupon is available at this site.

Any other groups? Our readers may have more info about the BCS, if you have info about BCS or suggestions for Harvey and Jane (a glass group) please leave a comment or if you want to protect your address email theblenkoproject@aol.com and I'll forward the email.

Thanks HJH

Saturday, December 19, 2009

blenko 927 & 928 vases

Hi there,
The blue vase just came in today. Mislisted and I picked it up for $8.00. Only the second one I've seen. I had one in ruby at the Kemp.

SNOW - There is SNOW lots of Snow In the WV Mountains

My parents report being surrounded by 6-9 inches of snow as they walked the dogs this morning. Charleston - Huntington, area is covered with snow!
If the snow is preventing you from getting out to shop. Remember http://www.blenkoglass.com/ is open 24/7 and you may phone Blenko Glass 304 743 8091 also there is a toll free number (check the web for this).

Phone and then wrap a card saying " Beautiful hand made West Virginia Glass is being shipped to you" Enjoy the Holiday!

My thoughts are the West Virginia Highway Department will have the roads cleared before noon, and your family can make another trip to Milton to visit the Blenko Glass Gift Shop. Happy Shopping!

Remember to BUY MADE IN THE USA! Buy Local when possible SUPPORT your local tri state merchants!
Note: Beautiful Sunshine gold/yellow glass photo from Texas Collector!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Kissin Kate Paperweights

Hi Hillary,
the last in the series of paperweight emails. The first few are by Charlie Gibson. These can range in price from $25 to$75. The last picture is a crystal paperweight with bubbles by Carl Erickson of Erickson Glass. Although Erickson Glass was in Ohio, Carl worked for Blenko in the late 1930's and early 1940's before leaving to open his own glass factory with his brother. Erickson was responsible for most of the "pre-designer" work at Blenko (prior to Anderson). We acquired this piece from Mrs. Ball in Milton. It is about 75 years old.
Kissin Kates Antiques

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Hi Hillary,
a second installment about paperweights made in WV. These pics are of paperweights made by Robert L. Hamon of Hamon Glass in Scott Depot WV. Bob was recognized around the world for his art glass creations including marbles and paperweights. As you can see, he made paperweights in many different styles and shapes.
Price curently ranges widely. The ones shown can be found from $100 to $200. The Presidential Series Paperweights sold for about $400 each when they were first offered by Hamon Glass. Thanks
Kissin Kates Antiques

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What To Buy For Xmas at Blenko?

What is your fave item in the 2009 catalog? I want to buy Xmas items and need suggestions.
Every item in the 2009 catalog is a favorite for me. Depending on your budget there is something for everyone.
Not in the catalog but on line - are the medallions, angels, snowmen, and ornaments these would make delightful gifts or filler for a Xmas Stocking.
The 2009 item my parents bought to use as Xmas gift is the green decanter also available in several other colors.
I'll post a photo - the price is about $60.
Try to get down to Blenko on a day someone will be signing or ask that your glass have a sandblasted signature (a small charge for sandblast). This small touch makes the glass much nicer. HJH

West Virginia Items

You wrote about a place in Bluefield or Becky that had Fenton, Blenko , other American glass and coins etc. We will be in Lewisburg for a vacation 23-1st. Can you provide a link and an address so we might visit this shop?
Lara O'

If you'll send an email to theblenkoproject@aol.com I'll send a list of shops I'm familiar with in this area. Several great places in Lewisburg. The shop mentioned in the post to which you are referring was The Bronze Look - Princeton, West Virginia. www.thebronzelook.com
Bronze Look would be an exciting way to spend a day. Drive down the state park while you are in the Princeton area. Email and I'll provide more info. Or just phone Randolph at the Bronze Look.

9 Shopping Days Til Christmas. Have you been to Blenko?

http://www.blenkoglass.com/. Only 9 days until Christmas. Blenko Glass in Milton, WV has a gift for each person on your list.

They have items from $5 to $750. Unique, handmade, West Virginia Glass. Don't see what you need or want, 'ask' the shop ladies when this glass is again being made.

Currently many items have been marked down an additional 10 - 25%. The clearance table (located in rear of ste) has been filled. Its a great day to shop BLENKO!

Check the website for times the 'observation deck' is open, bring your camera take photos and include the photos in your gift bags. Most all Blenko glass can be personalized, check out 'Touch of Glass' Hurricane, WV. www.westvirginiaglass.com

Monday, December 14, 2009

Remebering Love Ones

I went home to Charleston this weekend to say a last goodbye to Ann Wood. Mrs. Wood was a dear friend, mentor, neighbor, and surrogate grandmother. Ann Wood lived across the street from me my entire life, and I spent more afternoons than I can count sitting on her front porch swing.
I was blessed to have her in my life. So lucky to have her in my life.

Ann Wood, 90, of Charleston died December 9, 2009, at Hubbard Hospice House following six months of illness.

She was the daughter of the late Dimple and DeForrest McMillion, born May 18, 1919, in Dundon. She was the loving wife of James D. Wood of Charleston, who died in 1976.

Surviving her are her daughter, Judith Bartley of Charlottesville, Va.; her son, Jim and his wife, Barbara, of Princeton; and her son, Richard of Loma Mar, Calif. Her grandchildren include Jimmy Wood and wife, Lucy, of Moorefield, Richard Cadieux of Alexandria, Va., and Callie Bouchard and Andre Cadieux and wife, Genny, of Charlottesville, Va. Her great-grandchildren include Abigail and Autumn Wood of Moorefield and Samantha Cadieux of Charlottesville, Va. Ann is also survived by her loving friends, Charles and Jenny Spann, Kay and John Homburg and their daughter, Hillary, and Janet and Bob Simpson of Charleston.

Ann Wood was a kind, gracious and generous woman who loved to read and study the history and geography of West Virginia, as well as world history and current affairs. She dearly loved to walk through the neighborhoods of Edgewood, near her home and, earlier in her life, the state parks of West Virginia. She had extremely fond memories of her youth in Widen. Ann Wood was a bright, wonderful spirit and loving mother who will be deeply missed by her family and friends.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Hubbard Hospice House, 1001 Kennawa Drive, Charleston, WV 25311.

Sometimes along with sadness, great loss can bring with it a renewed appreciation for what, and who, we have to be thankful for.

Today, Dec 14th, is my mother's (40+) birthday.

I could not have asked for a more loving or supportive parent.

Happy Birthday Momma Kay,

I love you.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Blenko photos

Thought you would like todays shots. A couple of Anderson design #967 flat sided pitchers along with the #939P in the middle. And to think, they almost didn't produce Chartreuse, that "frog shit" color, as one buyer pronounced it. The second photo has the mislisted Husted #638M decanter in Rose' I picked up a couple months back alongside a #6210 in the '61 Charcoal.


For 18 months now I am asking where is Rick Blenko? You don't respond. I went to the Holiday Sale, saw Mr. Bill and Mr. Walter but it ain't the same with out Rick.
What is he up to, is he healthy? Is he in WV? I can not be the only person asking you these questions. Is he making glass? Is he promoting other glass? Or is he involved with PBS? What is he doing? Blenko Glass without Rick or a Blenko at the helm doesn't seem right.
Mountain Rita.
You are not alone in asking about Richard, although you are the most persistent in asking questions. Richard stays very busy traveling, spending time with family and friends, involved in community affairs and working as always on many projects. Last weekend his family was at the Huntington Mall supporting a family friend during her book signing.

Rick Blenko and Katie Lee (ex-Mrs. Billie Joel) - cook book author - Huntington Mall book signing

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Blenko - not

Hi Hillary,
We do aim our camera at other things besides Blenko.


Tell me where to buy vintage Blenko?
Cabin Creek

I buy very little glass, but those 'who shop' tell me (1) estate sales (2) find a good shop and ask the owner to search for you (3) ebay (4) The places I am familiar with are Kissin Kate's in Hurricane and Purple Moon of Charleston, WV
Purple Moon has a large selection of furniture and all things modern. Kissin Kate's specialty is WV and American Glass.
My thoughts are if you are new to collecting - buy only from an established dealer, buy books, search websites and acquire a base knowledge before venturing into ebay or estate/tag sales.
Good luck!
Have you visited the www.blenkoglass.com website or gift shop? Many 'vintage' reproductions are available . . .the Bayliss line has a retro feel.
Need more info, or have additional questions? Email theblenkoproject@aol.com.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Yesterday I was rinsing out my very, very favorite purple vase that belonged to my grandmother...and most stupidly I ran hot water into it. The bottom popped out having cracked from too quick temperature change. Literally it made me sick to my stomach and tears were free flowing. Anyway, I have obsessively searched Blenko books in antique stores today (somehow I sensed it was a Blenko) and found the exact vase, #6712, designed by Joel Myers in 1969. It is the barbell shape, 11 1/4 " tall with the applied spiral in the middle. Mine is plum glass. Luckily the break was clean and at the bottom of the vase where the purple is dark and the glass is thick. I did glue it back together, but knowing I've basically ruined it kills me.

I am desperate to find another one just like it. Is it ridiculous to think I might be able to locate one? I might consider other colors it was produced in. I realize it is highly collectible after my research, though I never would have sold mine. Knowing its high value does compound my grief, but it was really priceless to me. Any help or suggestions you have will be so appreciated.

I am truly heartbroken.
Many thanks,
Hope Hollingsworth
Roanoke, Va

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Heart of Glass Blog Needs You

We need your help - if you see a comment that shouldn't be here, you see a mis spelled word, a mistake, an error please email theblenkoproject@aol.com when you email include the date and or post in your email so we might make the correction or eliminate the comment.
While I attempt to filter every comment, on occassion something will slip by.
In January and February 2010 I'll be on my Operating Room rotation, my time will be very limited. Please send many photos and stories during this time.
Otherwise the blog will go down to 3 post per week.
Heart of Glass appreciates your comments, your photos, your stories.
New collectors often have little knowledge of the great 'vintage Blenko' when they see your Blenko, read your stories etc this increases their desire to collect and also aides the sale of new Blenko Glass. Thanks to the West Virginia, Virginia, Calif, Texas, Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina and Ky Blenko Collectors we have photos of unique glass nearly each week.
Our goal is promote WV Glass. All West Virginia Glass. While
Blenko is in my neighborhood and is the glass I most often purchase, Heart of Glass Blog
wants to provide a place to share knowledge of all West Virginia Glassmakers and the art glass they made/make available.
WV Glass is a very narrow topic, specific set of information, yet our readership grows each month. Its my belief we have more new collectors than old - many more. Together we can make a difference.
Remember to BUY MADE IN THE USA - and to buy LOCAL whenever possible .

airtwist cane

DR. Hillary, I was finaly able to get photos of the airtwist cane that Harry and Charly Gibson made. The only way to discribe it is THE ULTIMATE AIRTWIST. Harry prided himself in being able to make these canes he gave most of them away, There are only two left that I know of. Thanks Larry T.

Only __ Shopping Days Til Christmas

The big day will be here very soon. If you haven't completed your shopping or you are searching for just one special gift, t h i n k Blenko Glass this small glass factory located in Milton, WV host a gift shop / outlet with a treasure trove of wonderful color glass items.
This year Buy Made In USA and when possible buy local, support the tri - state merchants.
Happy Holidays!
*fill in the blank -

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

A Beautiful Blenko Glass Punch Bowl

Hi Hillary:
We have been in the BCS from the start and to the Festival of Glass last year and this year. We have known your parents from the meetings and were talking to them during the festival in August. Your mom said you might like photos of some of the less often seen Blenko items. I am attaching photos of our punch bowl, which we got here in Georgia and a pre-designer ruby pitcher and glass set that came from a long time family in Milton.
I am sending the photos in four emails, as the files are somewhat big.
The punch bowl has the bowl, twelve cups, ladle, and under bowl that has a ledge for the cups.
The ruby pitcher has a ribbed handle and the six glasses have rosettes.
Regards and Happy Hollidays,
Roger and Carolyn Newstrom
Roswell, Georgia

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Only 16 Shopping Days Until Christmas - Buy Made In USA - Shop Huntington, WV

Only 16 shopping days until Christmas.
Blenko Glass www.blenkoglass.com online shop is open 24 hours a day and the Gift Shop in Milton, WV 304 743 9081 is open 7 days a week.
This year buy Made In The USA.
Support your Local Merchants.

More pictures from Bruce

Hi Hillary,
I noted in one of the comments about the last photo that was posted to the blog that someone noted that the #7525 was not a catalog color in the Olive Green pictured. I would agree with that in that my Pina reference does not show it. Maybe Tammy with her extensive reference material can correct that for me but I have always enjoyed that piece in particular because it may in fact be a rarer "find". I am including a photo of my recently completed set of designs that were produced from the same basic mold. Starting from the Left you have a Emerald green #446 pillow vase, Myers' #6523 decanter in Peacock, Shepherd's #7525 in Olive Green cased in Crystal beside the normal Turquoise/Tangerine swirl designer piece listed in the Pina reference, and finally the Myers'#6522 in Turquoise.

The bottom photo is of two recent additions from the pre-designer period, a #375 "two-handled vase" in Amethyst along with it's big brother, a #438 "large handled urn".
Bruce Specht

Monday, December 07, 2009

A Blenko Story From Canada

Hello Hillary,

Here is my Blenko story and two images.
Hillary Homburg asked me to share my Blenko story.

My first visit to Blenko was in 1995. I was on a nine day bus tour with fellow members of the William Morris Society of Canada. It was a spontaneous detour, because we were well ahead of our schedule. And what a delight. Not only had we been visiting Midwestern visionary communities, but also many buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, so our appetites were well whetted for glass. What I think surprised most of us, after seeing so much minimal use of color in Wright's prairie style, was Blenko's riotously bright and vivid colors, stacked in dazzling assortments of rainbows, which indelibly scarred our retinas. I don't think anyone left there without purchasing at least one piece. Mine was a four inch diameter by 14 inch tall purple vase. Because we were in the visitors centre, and time was short, I did not realize that Blenko even had a stained glass factory, producing sheet glass, rondells or dalle de verre. I love my vase because it was what I had imaged at the time, small sheets of hand made glass would be made from.

My second visit to Blenko was in 2007. This time with great purpose. I had just finished taking a course on dalle de verre in France. When I got home I did some Internet searching and Blenko kept coming up as a supplier of dalles. Faint memories of the visitors center came to mind, but I could not remember seeing the stained glass supply area. So I wrote an email and got introduced to Don Lemley and the mythic dalle barn. I must admit it was all a bit too laid back for me, there weren't really any codes to correspond to specific colors, so I was concerned I wasn't going to get delivered what I anticipated and I wasn't convinced that the shipping costs weren't going to be problematic. So somewhere in those email conversations I decided to take a week off work and drive to Milton myself.

I am so glad I did. Don was a sweet heart and let me loose in the dalle barn, which seems to only get bigger every time I think about it. As a stained glass artist, it is always important for me to hand select my materials, because hand made glass has a wonderful transitional or variegated quality, that helps direct how it wants to be used. And I want to respond to that quality. Don was very generous with his time and local information. I selected dalles most of the morning. Wrapping up for a late lunch in town, I thought it crazy not to go back and select some sheet glass and some rondells. So loading up my little car with far more than I had originally planned on, there were some prayerful moments as I negotiated the West Virginia hills, back home.

And here we are in 2009. I was equally devastated even here, in the Canadian north when I heard the news that Blenko was suspending it's glass production, There was evidence of factory closures when I had made my personal trip, the two years earlier, but I had never thought it would effect Blenko. I called Don hoping to hear that perhaps it really wasn't that bad. But it was. Artistically I was horrified that I might not get any more Blenko dalles and sympathetically I was deeply saddened that another area of the creative and artistic world was being shut down.

I decided then and there, that I had to show some support. I chatted with many of my stained glass colleagues in an effort to encourage some Blenko sales. I scrambled myself to find some money to have an dalle order sent. Everything was up in the air. I was worried that nothing would happen and that the Blenko doors would be closed without fanfare.

Blenko is part of the American fabric that is as old as the hills the factory lives in. It was an idyllic spot to create the “glass hut” family owned style of glass manufacture, that was very prominent in Europe. Plenty of inexpensive fuel, cool summer days to mitigate the long hot hours in front of the furnaces. Blenko had a unique mix of both blown glass ware and art glass from the beginning, also being one of the earliest manufacturers of dalle de verre, which was born out of the Second World War.

West Virginia probably had the highest concentration of skilled glass blowers in the country. This is not insignificant. So to hear that Blenko was shutting down production, not only meant yet another business shutting down, but also the loss of a very particularly skilled group of individuals were losing their livelihood, probably forever. There is such a hue and cry for the rain forest, the loss of animal species to extinction and yet the lives of artists are not seen as valuable. I suppose it is assumed that we can adapt, that we can find other jobs. Noble it is to look after places and animals far away requiring our assistance, but when it comes to the arts, music, dance and glass, despite its huge cultural impact, these are the programs usually first to go.

We marvel at what previous cultures were able to create. The Egyptians, Greeks or the Celts for example. What evidence of their lives to we find at museums? Hand made pottery, glass, jewelery and statuary. Beautiful and functional and handmade. Artists were an integral part of the community. Blenko's artists really need every one's support, from the simple first time guest in the visitor center who buys a small keepsake to the state of West Virginia, who could find creative ways to save a piece of its heritage. Bravo to the Blenko project and Hillary, for initiating it.

By the way, I did get about 70 dalles this year. There are designs sketched out and new work under way. I'll keep you posted. Thanks Hillary for this opportunity.

Elizabeth Steinebach
Orrville, Ontario, Canada

Only 17 Days To Shop BLENKO Before Christmas

http://www.blenkoglass.com/ only 17 days to find the perfect gifts. Visit the Blenko Glass visitors center and Outlet shop in Milton, W.Va. phone 304 743 9081. To learn more about Blenko Glass visit http://www.blenkoproject.org/ the Blenko Project website.