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, March 30, 2009

A Blenko Story

The West Virginia Museum of Glass in Weston and Mr. Bill Blenko have the only Fritz Dreisbach pieces I've ever seen. His Blenko creations were very beautiful. If you have a Friz piece of knowledge of one share the story please: This photo from the Weston, WV Museum of Glass

Hillary, i have another shortstory for you. When Fritz Dreisbach and his group were at Blenko learning to blow glass Harry made a statment that took me a long time to understand.He didnoot dislike these fellows,(he spent several evenings with them at the Dodrop In) He was not impressed with the one of a kind work they were learning to do. Just about every blower and finisher at Blenko could do this kind of work becouse of there years of experience gave them the feel of the glass. The glass we blow every day will be seen or purchased by thousands of people. How many people will ever see or purchas thease one of a kind peaces although they are beautiful and unique. A lot of the glass Artists that worked at Blenko or Indiana Glass (for Harry) have gone on to produce beautiful handcraft glassware of there own just as Harry prodicted.Charly Gibson Dave Osburn, Dave Fetty,Shorty Findly, Jim Davis, Bill Knight, Lassie Tempelton, Monte Dunlavy, and Joe Rice who worked for Harry, now works out of the Joe St Clair building in Indiana. I am sure ther are more these are just the names I can remember. Thanks Larry T.
Note: Larry Thompson is the son of Harry Thompson glass artist /craftsman former Blenko craftsman.
The Heart of Glass welcomes your photos and your WV or Blenko Glass stories and photos, please email these to : theblenkoproject@aol.com

Blenko In The Texas Sun

Note: COLD! It was 30 to 40 degrees Sunday in Morgantown. Ugh! Bruce S. sent this photo of his Blenko enjoying a Sunny Sunday! hjh
Hi Hillary,We're enjoying a sunny day here in Texas with Blenko group glowing in the window.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

6-8 Weeks and Its Graduation Time!

Note: Any BLENKO GLASS item can be personalized by TOUCH OF GLASS http://www.westvirginiaglass.com/ for a small fee.

Are you thinking about Graduation Gifts? Upcoming Seniors? BLENKO GLASS http://www.blenkoglass.com/ has the perfect gift. If your student is entering or exiting WVU or Marshall then Blenko has the Collegiate line, the website currently is featuring these items from $50 to $160.
For the West Virginia University & Marshall Fan the above items are available (school colors), click on the website for price and to order. www.blenkoglass.com. Tell web goddess Terri we sent you. hjh

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Readers Question - Can we help?

Reader needs our help - was her glass properly repaired? Did the value decrease? hjh


I recently purchased a 16" Persian Cylindrical u-cut vase by designer Wayne Husted.It's the vase with the downward slopes on the sides on the attached photo.It is beautiful but unfortunately it had some rough edges (small chips) along the bottom area of one slope. We have since carefully did some grinding and polishing on the rough edge. Hopefully done so it is not so noticeable. How much value would you say we have lost by this damage/repair? It still has it's silver label on the front and all else is in good condition. I actually couldn't find any info on this particular colored piece on the Internet to get any value at all, so not sure.I only found that the tangerine 10.75" style is worth approx. $495 Thank you. A.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Request . .

A number of you have been kind enough to write asking about my sofa / end table / lamp / 'hunt' well. . . . I continue to search for special items for my Columbus apartment. The item I am currently seeking is a CLOCK I'd like one similar to this photo. If you run across this beauty at a flea market or under priced at an estate sale. Speed dial me.
Most everyone has this to say about the items I want: " I gave this away in the early 80s."
Thanks for keeping your eyes open! hjh

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Don Shepperd - Blenko Designer

Today's post is the result of a note from Lon Bowden asking who was the Blenko designer responsible for WV Birthday Collection and why don't we hear about him more and what is he doing?

Don Shepperd designed he first series of WV Birthday Collection and many other popular Blenko designs.

Note: My computer died and I may or maynot be able to retrive my photos - so for the next few days or weeks, we'll be borrowing photos, (if you have glass photos please send) . The WV Birthday Photos are from the BLENKO COLLECTOR Four website - http://www.blenkocollectors.com/ . Blenko Glass at one time borrowed copies of the entire collection from me and had them on their website and as a handout during the June 20th Birthday Celebration. This page was a great addition for Birthday Collectors and Antique Dealers.

I will attempt to upload several photos from Blenko Museum and also photos of The West Virginia Birthday Pieces that Shepperd designed.

The BLENKO MUSEUM http://www.blenkomuseum.org/ has a brief bio for all the designers and a photo gallery of their work. For today with Damon Crain's permission we are borrowing info from their website.
Don Shepperd

Born October 9, 1930 in Eureka , CA Died February 23, 2002
Blenko Design Director 1974-1988Responsible for new Blenko designs from 1975-1989; all "75" through to "89" prefix design numbers
Attended California School of Fine Arts and Catan-Rose Institute of Fine Arts, NY.
Lived primarily in Stamford, CT and worked as a design consultant, including work for Herman Miller.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Blenko Peacock and Ruby

Hi Hillary,

Just wanted to drop a couple of photos for the blog and your enjoyment. I still haven't got a good light source yet so I hope your readers will forgive the "darkness" of the photos. I started to take everything outside but, with the strong Texas spring winds, I don't want any of these falling off my photo table.
Bruce Specht

Thank you Bruce - we do always enjoy your photos.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

When Giants Fall - Micheal Panzner

Ms B and I spent the weekend reading 'When Giants Fall'. My friend sent the following words along with the book: "This book demands broad audience appeal. It is extremely well written and superbly documented. The subject matter covered includes economic, socio-economic, geopolitical considerations, international relations, national and international security, demographics, energy, natural resources and — how a new reality is upon all of us; a reality whose form and substance have yet to be fully formed." Hills, above review caught my attention, thought this would be of interest to you.
If you haven't read this book, may I suggest you find a copy this week. Mr. Panzner speaks about the next five years, what we might expect. Other than suggesting you invest 'all' your money in precious metal, he offered no other hiding places or tips for growing wealthy.
This book was a gift from a blogger friend who knows of my passion for BUY MADE IN THE USA! Panzner speaks about the China factor - how much of our country China owns in the form of treasury bonds and real estate, He talks about 'Walmart' and the Chinese made products. This book will leave you wanting to plant a victory garden, as West Virginia's we are accustom to 'hard times' and we are survivors. We may not be glamorous but we are self sufficient.
Panzner suggest when we say: "Buy Made In the USA" we are making non Americans very angry!
OOPS this is something I say a dozen times a week. Without thought of offending my non American friends.
Panzner is a veteran stockbroker, a very knowledgeable man, he suggest the stock market, financial investing and business will all suffer greatly in the next 5 to 10 years. These turbulent times he suggest will greatly increase. The book is fascinating and in my opinion a combination of truth with a bit of doom and gloom.
Read the book. www.amazon.com/When-Giants-Fall-Economic-America . Then get on line and order BLENKO GLASS www.blenkoglass.com always made in the USA, made in WVa.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Blenko Visitor''s Center - Filled With Beautiful Glass

On a recent visit to the Blenko Glass http://www.blenkoglass.com/ visitor center/ gift shop we found all the shelves filled with glass, newly made Blenko Glass. Support BLENKO GLASS, buy made in West Virginia, Buy and Gift Always BLENKO!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Vintage Blenko at the antique shops on Huntunton's 14th street

We went antiquing this weekend in Huntington, and while I still haven't run across the perfect coffee table, I did spot lots of vintage Blenko! If you are looking for a special piece of glass, retro furniture or a rare collectible, the shops on Huntington's 14th street may just have what you want - antiquing in Huntington a fun way to spend a Saturday or Sunday afternoon!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Marble King - WV Cultural Center - Charleston - Take A Child!

This week after reading my own blog comments, I came to realize we are loosing another West Virginia or Mountain tradition ' Marble playing and collection in our home- my Dad has two or three big canning jars filled with marbles, from his child hood. Over the years he and I have added a couple dozen to the collection with our travels - and I recall playing 'marbles' as a little kid with my Popaw .

Marble King - West Virginia's Marble King the greatest maker of Marbles is on display at the Cultural Center in Charleston, West Virginia. Take your grand children, your children, the neighbors children and go to visit. Help them develop an interest in 'marbles', start their collection of marbles. If your marble collection is in the closet or garage - get it out, share the marbles with others.

The Blog comment (below) started me down memory lane, I remember vividly Mr. Hamon, and Mr. Charley and buying a 'shooter' from each.

If we want our children to have pride in our state, we must expose them to the very best the State has to offer. The West Virginia Cultural Center houses the finest exhibits. It is FREE, and the exhibits change very frequently. www.wvculture.org/agency/cultcenter

there is a WV Marble Collector's Club. I think their website is www.wvmcc.citymax.com. If that doesn't work just google WV marbles and you should find them. Also, land of marbles.com has a lot of info. We have marbles mostly from Robert Hamon. Although we have a few from Charley Gibson, Sonny Miller and Boyd Miller. Mr. Hamon passed away a few years ago and Mr. Gibson had a stroke and no longer makes glass. Sonny and Boyd still make marbles. As far as larger companies, I think Jabo still makes marbles and I'm not sure if Akro-Agate is still producing them or not. The web sites I mentioned should help. At one time, WV was one of the top marble producing areas in the world. I guess you could say we have lost our marbles! (amongst other things).
TimKissin Kates


Hello Hillary, hope all is going well with you.

The attached photo is a "peek" in the window at Kissin' Kates Antiques.


Tim and Linda

Kissin' Kate's Antiques LLC

Thursday, March 19, 2009

BLENKO GLASS www.blenkoglass.com

Web goddess Terri and her husband Barry are Blenko Collectors and like me they dream about Blenko. . . .and often, think about how things should, or how they think things 'ought to be' . . . for instance . . . if we ran the world . . . Everyone would KNOW about BLENKO GLASS . All children would be able to see Blenko be made, they would be taught about the unique process for making glass. Thus instilling pride in their State, and the product made in their neighborhood.
Well, its not a perfect world . . but Barry and Terry have made a film of the glass making process, the film is FREE on the blenko glass website http://www.blenkoglass.com/ and its available for purchase ( under $15 I think- when I wrote about the film last year many teacher bought copies for their class rooms). The disc is professional quality. Check out the free on line version. Then order your copy.
Batching Blenko From Start to Finish
A new 1/2 hour film detailing the glassmaking process from sand and materials to glassblowing to the end of the lear.
Please enjoy and pick from 3 sizes. Windows Media Player required for viewing.

Marble King - West Virginia Culture Center - Charleston


the post on Marble King was excellent. I hope there is a large turnout. WV and the Ohio Valley was home to many talented marble makers (and still is). Marble King is renowned for "game" marbles. Art Glass marbles were made by many. I have attached a photo of our small collection of Robert L. Hamon (of the Hamon Glass Company in Scott Depot and later with Kanawha Glass) marbles. In the photo the largest marble is about 2 inches in diameter and the smallest about 1-1/4 inch. We have about a 100 or so of these. Some we have kept as collectors and others we have sold at our store or on our website.

Kissin Kate's Antiques LLC

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Harry Thompson at Pilgrim

There are so many unnamed Blenko and other West Virginia Craftsmen, a goal of the Blenko Project http://www.blenkoproject.org/ is to photograph and oral history as many workers as possible. Harry Thompson was a superior glass worker. He worked at Blenko Glass. We are beginning to learn about Harry, as we do we are sharing his story with you - - we hope to have Harry's photos and story on the website before the end of summer. Note: If you or a family member worked for Blenko or another W.Va Glass Company and you want to be a part of the Blenko Project http://www.blenkoproject.org/ please send an email to theblenkoproject@aol.com . Thanks HJH
Hillary, In the late 50s a man in a 3pc suit knocked on our door one evening and wanted to talk to dad, Harry Thompson. When he left i asked who died, Dad laughed and said it was a big wheel from Pilgrim Glass wanting me to go to work for him. Harry Work for Pilgrim for two weeks during shutdown at Blenko but the increase in pay wasn't enough to make up fore the long drive from Milton to the west end of Huntington before I64 was built. Here is a 30 inch peace from the Masterworks collection of Pilgrim, the blue peace next to it is a signed Kelsy Murphy peace. Two Pilgrim lamps and rolling pin.

Thanks Larry T.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Benko Rooster

Readers you request a photo of the tea pot and the owner sent this photo.
Thank you!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Blood Sweat and Tears - Clay Center

Last night I was one of 1,500 people at the Clay Center for Blood Sweat & Tears. You all may remember "Spinning Wheel, " You Made Me So Very Happy" and " Superstitious from the 60 & 70. These songs are great to dance to, they are songs from another generation but its music that I love and music that if you listen to - - - I'm betting you will also love. http://www.wvgazette.com/News/200903130871 A Charleston Gazette Newspaper reporter was there and he had this to say in the morning paper.
When Blood Sweat and Tears performs near you. Plan to get your self and a good friend a couple of seats. Like BLENKO GLASS www.blenkoglass.com some things can remain forever a part of our life. hjh

Cultural Center to host opening reception for Marble King exhibition on Monday, March 16th

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History will celebrate the exhibit, West Virginia’s Gift to the World: Marble King–The World’s Finest Marbles, with a gala reception on Monday, March 16, at 6 p.m., at the Cultural Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. Visitors can meet Beri Fox, owner and president of the Paden City, W.Va. company, and witness the presentation of a limited edition marble of the world to Governor Joe Manchin III and First Lady Gayle Manchin and Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith of the Division of Culture and History. The exhibition and opening reception are free and open to the public.
Visitors also can see a film about the company, and purchase two different sizes of the limited edition marble of the world and other selected items. Marble King will provide a certificate of authenticity with the limited edition marble.

The exhibit is on display in the Lobby Gallery where visitors can see a colorful mural of marbles which features the Marble King logo. The mural has 47,232 marbles, measures six feet by 16 feet, weighs 393.5 pounds and was created by members of the Division’s technical services staff. There also are vitrines which contain games such as the Wizard of Oz Family Board Game, Hungry Hippos and Marble Quest: 3-D Tic-Tac-Triva to name a few. In addition there is a “Marble Drop,” which begins in the Balcony Gallery, ends in the Great Hall and visitors can drop marbles down through a wooden trough to a maze .Other items on display include a marble gauge and marbles which were on a NASA balloon flight.
On May 24, 2003, DVD about the company, photographs, marble terminology and more.
Berry Pink and Sellers Peltier founded Marble King in 1949, although the history of the company really began in the 1930s and early 1940s when the marbles were actually manufactured by Peltier Glass in Ottawa, Ill. By the late 1940s, Pink, a successful businessman who loved interacting with children, was selling more marbles than Peltier could produce. The two joined forces and formed another manufacturing company, with Pink holding the majority of shares. He traveled across the country hosting marble tournaments and giving away marbles at each stop. Pink became known as the “Marble King” which is the name they used when the company was formed in 1949.
Originally Marble King was located in St. Marys, W.Va. When a fire destroyed the factory in 1958, the manager, Roger Howdyshell, moved the company to Paden City. Howdyshell, an engineering major before serving in World War II, returned to school after the war under the G. I. Bill to get a degree in business. He was hired right out of college and began working his way up the ladder.
Howdyshell was an innovative man who left his mark on the marble industry in many ways. He led Marble King to produce the first American-made Cat’s Eye marble and developed a process called “veneering.” This allowed the marble manufacturer to use less expensive glass as base glass and put a thin coating on the exterior surface to give the marble color. After dedicating his life to the industry, Howdyshell purchased Marble King in 1983. When he died in 1991, his wife Jean and daughter Beri Fox ran the company until Jean died in 2003.
Marble King’s marbles can be found in marble games, board games, fish tanks, jewelry, landscape accents, on decorative vases, in spray paint cans and other industrial applications. They have been featured in movies such as The Goonies, Hook and Home Alone. Marble King is the leader in marble production shipping worldwide and in 2000 it received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Exporting.
Marble King continues to make inventive strides and creates interest throughout the world. In 2007, Governor Joe Manchin III presented the company with the Governor’s Commendation for International Market Entry, an award it has won many times in the past and will strive to do in the future.

For more information about the West Virginia’s Gift to the World: Marble King–The World’s Finest Marbles exhibit opening, contact Jacqueline Proctor, deputy commissioner for the Division, at (304) 558-0220. For more information about the exhibit, contact Charles Morris, manager of collections and exhibitions for the Division, at (304) 558-0220.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Blenko Ornament Available for Pre Order

www.blenkoglass.com The Blenko webgoddess has updated the Blenko Glass website. Please start to return to this website for information, Terri updates the website frequently. On a visit yesterday I discovered the Blenko / Wendy Lemley Ornament is available for Pre Order. You'll want to place your order immediately.

2nd in Series, Feathered Friends Ornament, Spring Edition
Each ornament is hand painted by WV Artist Wendy Lemley. Only 50 available2nd In Series2009
Bluebird with Pink Dogwood
$50.00 each + shipping and handling
2009 2nd in Series Limited Edition Bluebird ornament
Price: $50.00
Note: Blenko remains open because YOU are buying glass. Think of glass as a necessary purchase. Glass is a permanent part of your life, it does not have to be replaced like plastic or paper products. Use GLASS Daily. Help your family become aware of the need to use glass and re usable products, and of course buy Made In the USA, and when possible Made In WVa.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Heart of Glass Blog - Need YOUR PHOTOS of Blenko & WVa Glass

Please if you can help send your photos to theblenkoproject@aol.com a description of the glass and any information you have about the glass is also appreciated.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Blenko VP Speaks About The Future

Last evening we ask Katie Garrison, Blenko Glass Company's Vice President to address the blog email questions. This was her response to your questions: "
The support of the Blenko community through purchases allowed us to partially restart production.

We have not had any viable investors approach us and it has been up in the air as to what it would take for an investor to actually buy the company due to the inability to negotiate some of our debts.

Our future is still unknown. We do not know how long we will be on partial production or if we will ever be able to start up fully again. Uncertain is a good word to describe our future.

Beyond that we really appreciate the support of the community. "

Did this answer all your questions? I hope so. HJH

Monday, March 09, 2009

Blenko Glass Resumes Partial Production

Blenko Glass announced today that it is resuming partial production of its hand blown glass.

Katie Trippe, Assistant Vice President for Blenko, says that 7 to 9 people are coming back to work this week. The production manager turned on three of the plant's seven furnaces yesterday. Employees will rotate shifts to give everyone a chance to work.They hope to be up and running by early next week producing more glass.

Trippe says resumption of glass production is due to sales of Blenko glass since the end of Janaury and community support.

Back on January 30, the Milton-based company announced that it was shutting down production while it considered filing for bankruptcy.

Approximately 50 people work at the company, which started production in 1921.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Glass Workers Archives Move to Weston, WV Museum

The Museum of American Glass in Weston, West Virginia has acquired the contents of the American Flint Glass Workers Union archives and museum. Included are historic documents, photographs, collective bargaining agreements, convention proceedings, plaques and numerous other mementos. In additions there are volumes of trade publications going back to the 1880s that contain articles and ads that trace the development of the glass industry.

The archives had been stored in the union’s building in Toledo, Ohio where some of the material was put into a museum-like exhibit in 1978 to celebrate the union’s 100th Anniversary. Credit for establishing and expanding the display go to union officers George M. Parker and Robert Newell. But even before the display was assembled, the glass industry in the US was in decline and thus so was union membership. As a result it became necessary for the AFGWU to merge with the United Steel Workers in 2003 and the Flints, as they were called, ceased as an independent organization. Yet the archives remained in Toledo until the building was sold and everything had to be removed by late February 2009. Within about two week’s time, volunteers packed furiously and glass collectors donated money to at least begin to cover the cost of the expensive move to Weston.

The collection is now in the good hands of the museum’s archivist Tom Felt who joined MAGWV upon retiring from the Library of Congress. Mr. Felt is well known in glass circles for his scholarly research and writing. In commenting about the acquisition he said, “(The collection) not only has extraordinary value to those of us who collect glass, but considering that the AFGWU was the oldest independent labor organization in the United States prior to its merger with the United Steel Workers, it has similar importance to the history of labor in the country.”

Dean Six, Museum Director, is delighted that the museum is providing a safe haven for this “major academic archive (and) a serious piece of American History”. He says it fits well with the museum’s mission which is to “discover, publish and preserve whatever may relate to the glass industry in West Virginia, the United Sates of America or where ever else glass has been manufactured.” Mr. Six assures that visitors to the museum will be able to see this valuable collection and researchers will have access to stored records.

Donations to assist in the preservation of these records are tax deductible and may be sent to the Museum of American Glass in West Virginia, P.O. Box 574, Weston, WV 26451 or visit the website at http://wvmag.bglances.com.

The Museum of American Glass in West Virginia is open year round noon to 4:00pm daily except Wednesday, Sunday and major holidays. Admission is free. It is easily accessible off I-79 exit 99 onto US 33 West for two miles to Main Avenue. A left turn onto Main and the museum is on the left at 230 Main Avenue. Begun in 1992, the museum relocated to its present location in 2007 and occupies 14,000 square feet with over 7,000 pieces of glass on permanent display. More information can be found at http://wvmag.bglances.com/. Questions about programs or the museum can be directed to 304-269-5006.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Vintage Blenko spotted in Coulmbus OH

We spent a morning last weekend on N High St in Columbus's 'Antiques Row' looking for vintage modern furniture, and while I am yet to find the perfect sofa we DID spot tons of colorful vintage Blenko glass prominently on display!

The above photos are from two of my favorite shops (conveniently next door to one another). They have websites you can check out as well:
Bomerang Room (www.boomerangroom.com)
Mad for Mod (http://www.mad4modvintage.com/)