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, April 30, 2009

Reader 's Question

Karen, I don't know for certain - but its my understanding the bulls head was made to hang on the wall and hold a plant - we'll see what others have to say. We own two - a ruby one with a green vine that requires little water hangs in my Morgntown guest bath, the other is setting on a shelf, he's blue and gold. Both of mine are reproductions done in the 2000's for BCS , this is yet another reason to join the BLENKO COLLECTORS SOCIETY http://www.blenkoglass.com/ . Tammy Kosla and crew worked hard to make certain each year a couple of items were reproduced *- but marked as reproduced - so not to confuse anyone. Let's wait to see what others have to say about your bullhead. HJH
* a tradition I'm certain BCS president Karin Alonzo will continue.


I just acquired a Blenko Bull head similar to yours but mine is different colors. Could you please share some information about it? When where the made, etc. Mine is amber/blue. Mine has an open end @ the top of the head. Is it a paper weight? We just thought it looked like something special.

Thank-you for any information that you can provide,

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Reader Karen sent this photo - and wants information about the year? The designer and the value?

Can we help?

PINK ICE for Mother's Day

Pink Ice Returns for Mother's Day . Buy now and store for later use in your home or for gifting. This color is made infrequently and always in very small batches. hjh
Pink Ice is currently available at Blenko - phone 304 743 9081 to reserve your PINK ICE.

Limited production - they made this color (again) because the demand remains very high for this beautiful pink glass.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mother's Day Gifts - Blenko

Mother's Day was started in West Virginia - why not choose a Made In West Virginia gift for this occassion?
The modern Mother's Day holiday was created by Anna Jarvis as a day for each family to honor its mother, and it's now celebrated on various days in many places around the world.
This holiday is relatively modern, being created at the start of the 20th century, and should not be confused with the early pagan and Christian traditions honoring mothers, or with the 16th century celebration of Mothering Sunday, which is also known as Mother's Day in the UK.
In most countries the Mother's Day celebration is a recent holiday derived from the original US celebration. Exceptions are, for example, the Mothering Sunday holiday in the UK. ** this info was provided by webmaster Steve from info on the net.

This year give the Moms in your life - something special

BLENKO GLASS http://www.blenkoglass.com/ .

The online shop is offering 10% off

and a coupon for use at the Visitors Center -print from the website or copy

the one I'm posting.

Blenko Glass made in West Virginia, each item is handcrafted.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Women of Design

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History
cordially invites you to the opening and reception for
Embassies, Mansions and Stately Homes
Pat Bibbee and Vivian Woofter
Monday, May 4th 2009, 6pm
Cultural Center, Capitol Complex
Charleston, W. Va.
phone 304 558 -0162

We won't be attending but hope you will and please take PHOTOS for the blog!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Wedding In Your Future? Visit BLENKO

Planning a wedding can be very difficult, and time consuming - a girl needs lots of help, mothers and best friends and good bridal consultants are a necessity. One often over looked source for wedding supplies is located in Milton, WV.
Google the word Wedding and over 1,000 sites appear.

Let me suggest - you visit BLENKO GLASS http://www.blenkoglass.com/ for all your table decor, centerpieces, gifts for the wedding party, Blenko can provide most every item you'll need. Many colors are available and of course crystal - you can have each item personalized at A Touch of Glass
(A Touch of Glass 101 Winners Circle Hurricane, WV 25526 (304) 562-5435. Corporate Awards · Custom Etched Glassware · Screen Printed Glassware ...
http://www.westvirginiaglass.com/ ).

Don Lemley in antique glass can design a glass disc with your wedding info, or an ornament - you are limited only by your imagination and pocketbook!

Blenko Glass will help you have a one of a kind, unique wedding.

Weddings, births, graduations, most every occasion Blenko has the appropriate solutions for an announcement, a gift or the table settings for the event.
Webmaster Steve provided the following info about 'marriage' the reason for the wedding - info taken from the internet.
Marriage is a social, religious, spiritual or legal union of individuals that creates kinship. This union may also be called matrimony, while the ceremony that marks its beginning is usually called a wedding and the married status created is sometimes called wedlock.
Marriage is an institution in which interpersonal relationships (usually intimate and sexual) are acknowledged by the state, by religious authority, or both. It is often viewed as a contract. Civil marriage is the legal concept of marriage as a governmental institution, in accordance with marriage laws of the jurisdiction. If recognized by the state, by the religion(s) to which the parties belong or by society in general, the act of marriage changes the personal and social status of the individuals who enter into it.
People marry for many reasons, but usually one or more of the following: legal, social, and economic stability; the formation of a family unit; procreation and the education and nurturing of children; legitimizing sexual relations; public declaration of love; or to obtain citizenship.
Marriage may take many forms: for example, a union between one man and one woman as husband and wife is a monogamous heterosexual marriage; polygamy – in which a person takes more than one spouse – is common in some societies. Some jurisdictions[4] and religious denominations recognize same-sex marriage, uniting people of the same sex.
A marriage is often formalized during a marriage ceremony, which may be performed either by a religious officiant, by a secular state authorised officiator, or (in weddings that have no church or state affiliation) by a trusted friend[citation needed] of the wedding participants. The act of marriage usually creates normative or legal obligations between the individuals involved and, in many societies, their extended families. Weddings are an important event, add BLENKO to your wedding !

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dave Fetty master demonstrations

Dave Fetty of Fenton will be doing master demonstrations at FENTON GLASS - this info is from the Fenton Glass website. Check the website for dates and times.

Dave Fetty and Shorty Finley remain friends and weekly they talk about glass arts and designing new projects. FENTON GLASS one of the FEW remaining Glass Factories in the USA.
Fenton has long been associated with the television home shopping networks and has many many local collectors. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The phrase "off-hand" really means working "by hand," as the glass artisans create various effects by shaping molten glass and applying threads or bits of glass in contrasting colors.
Dave may use a mould to bring the piece to its final shape, but all the decorative effects -- colored frit, hanging hearts, pulled feathers, handles, ringing, threading, etc. are done strictly by hand.
Don't miss out on your chance to attend a FREE 1 hour master craftsman seminar featuring Dave Fetty or one of his apprentices...on a special Saturday !
Spaces are limited for these special "up close and personal" sessions so reserve your seat today!
About Dave...
A skilled glassworker, Dave Fetty retired in 1999 after more than 40 years in the glass industry. Dave came to Fenton in 1964 after learning the trade in Milton, WV, at the Blenko Glass Company, where he began as a carrying-in boy when he was 19. Dave's mentor at Blenko was glassworker "Shorty" Finley, who taught Dave many of the skills needed to make glass off-hand (without moulds).
In the mid-1970s, Dave worked with glass artisan Robert Barber, helping to design and create some of Fenton's first limited edition pieces. In 1998, Dave taught a "pulled feather" technique to other glassworkers, and he supervised them as they produced this vase for the 1998 Connoisseur Collection.
Even after his "official" retirement, Dave has continued to contribute to Fenton.
http://www.fentonartglass.com/ BUY GLASS MADE IN THE USA!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Kissin Kate's Antiques's - Cowboy and Trooper Hats

Hi Hillary

on one of the blog posts, someone requested pictures of the Blenko Red Cowboy hat and the blue WV State Trooper hat. The white hat wit the blue brim is a Dave Osburn creation. Thanks.


Kissin' Kate's Antiques

Monday, April 20, 2009

Blenko Glass Visitor Center Announces New Hours

New Visitor Center hours- Effective May 1st, 2009
We will be open Mon-Fri 8am to 5pm, Sat. 9am to 5pm, and Sun. 1pm to 5pm starting May 1st, 2009

Phone 304 743 9081 for special orders
or if you have questions.
Don Lemley in antique glass remains available to take your questions and orders for special projects. Antique Glass of Blenko Glass 304 743 9081.

Reader Writes

Designed by Wayne Husted and introduced in the 1960 catalog as Blenko's #6027.
Bonedoc sent this photo and says she found one in green for $425 in the Canton, Ohio area last weekend.
Have you found a great BLENKO item at a good price, or discovered an item? If so please consider sharing your photo and story with Heart of Glass.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Finding Blenko . . . .

Heart of Glass reader : Bonedoc sent the following information along with a note saying Blenko is the only glass offered in the Churchill gift shop. He also commented: Glasslady, I didn't go looking for Blenko, it found me. It would seem 'One Finds BLENKO in many strange places, however, the colorful Blenko always seems to show well.'
The Blenko Company is the creator of the windows in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury.
The Mission of the Winston Churchill Memorial and Library at Westminster College is to develop plans, implement programs, provide facilities, and contribute resources which will commemorate and celebrate the distinguished life and career of Sir Winston S. Churchill, thereby supporting, enhancing, and bringing to reality the college’s mission of educating leaders of character for a lifetime of success, significance, and service.
The Winston Churchill Memorial and Library in the United States at Westminster College. The Memorial is located on the college campus in Fulton, Missouri, the site of Churchill's famous "Iron Curtain" speech. The Memorial was founded in 1969 to honor the life and legacy of one of the greatest leaders of the twentieth century. It is housed within the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, a 12th century church from the middle of London, redesigned by Sir Christopher Wren in 1677, that was relocated to Fulton. The undercroft of this beautiful and historic Wren church is a museum filled with a priceless treasury of artifacts and information relating to the life and times of Sir Winston Churchill. Churchill himself was intrigued by the imaginative idea of a restored Wren church in America's heartland. He wrote, "It may symbolize in the eyes of the English-speaking peoples the ideals of Anglo-American association on which rest, now as before, so many of our hopes for peace and the future of mankind." The museum tells the story of a hero who led the free world's fight for freedom, from his privileged youth as the son of a British aristocrat to the darkest days of war. This museum provides a chronicle of the life and times of one of the world's most memorable political leaders and serves as a venue for special artistic and historical exhibits, as well as a variety of social and cultural events. The Churchill Memorial is part of the fabric of everyday life on the campus of Westminster College. Students attend church services here, use the extensive resources of the Memorial's library for research, and serve as tour guides. Many marriages take place in the Christopher Wren church, a light-filled sanctuary where the poet John Milton was married and where Shakespeare may have worshipped. Most of all, the Memorial symbolizes the philosophy upon which the college was founded in 1851. Westminster's reputation for academic excellence begins with the belief that "a freed mind is the chief object of education," an idea vigorously applauded by Sir Winston Churchill.

Open Daily: 10AM - 4:30PM Closed: Thanksgiving Christmas New Year's Day
Adults: $6.00 Seniors AAA, AARP: $5.00 Youth (12-18): $4.00 College Students: $4.00 Child (6-11): $3.00 Child (5 and under): free
This hand blown glass was made by the Blenko Company of West Virginia. The Blenko Company is the creator of the windows in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury.
** Bonedoc reports photos are from the Memorial website: visit this site:http://www.churchillmemorial.org/

Friday, April 17, 2009

FYI - Upcoming Glass Events

A friend of the blog - sent this announcement for me to pass on.
Perhaps for a long weekend trip?
Upcoming Events and Workshops at GlassRoots
GlassRoots is pleased to provide even more opportunities for you to learn glassblowing and kilnformed glass, flameworking and casting. New offerings include the paperweight workshop as well as Mosaic Madness. Find your passion, your artistic talent as you work in a dynamic environment where glass meets fire, where inspiration becomes reality.
Our studio is located at 10 Bleeker Street, Newark, NJ 07102.
Parking is available across the street from the studio.
Classes and Workshops
Glassblowing I May 7 - June 11 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm Through demonstrations and hands-on work this glassblowing class will familiarize participants with basic hot glass techniques. $465.
Glassblowing Weekend
May 7, 8 and June 6, 7 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
This two day intensive class offers participants the opportunity to check out the glassblowing experience. $320.
Glassblowing Saturday
May 16 and June 27 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Glassblowing Saturdays offer participants a hands-on opportunity to check out the glassblowing experience before committing to a weekend or longer class. $85
Paperweight Workshop
May 30 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Participants of this multidisciplinary workshop will learn how to create sculptural elements out of glass in the lampworking studio. The students will bring their glass art into the hotshop to create a paperweight. $180.
Mosaic Madness
May 30 and June 13 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
In this lively and intensive hands-on workshop mosaic design and composition will be presented. $75 per adult, $55 per child.
Beadmaking Intensive
April 23 - June 11 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
This longer format class introduces the art of glass beadmaking. Basic and intermediate techniques will be demonstrated and discussed. $375.
Open Studio Beadmaking
Every Saturday 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
This Saturday workshop gives an introduction to beadmaking. $25 - kids,
$30 - students, $45 - adults * Call by the prior Thursday to sign up!

For summer youth programs, please contact GlassRoots for more details.

Upcoming Events
Branch Brook Park Cherry Blossom Festival
April 19 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Come visit GlassRoots under the cherry trees at Branch Brook Park. More cherry trees than Washington D.C.? Yes, that is true. Here is an opportunity to learn more about GlassRoots, watch our young glass artists do flameworking, and purchase unique glass objects. FREE.
Rutgers Day in New Brunswick
April 26 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Here is another opportunity to visit GlassRoots and watch beadmaking demonstrations at Rutgers Day in New Brunswick. This is just one of many programs associated with Rutgers – Newark. Come join the fun. FREE.
NFTE Business Plan Competition
April 30 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Meet GlassRoots artists/entrepreneurs and their arts. Join in watching GlassRoots students participate in a business plan competition as part of a partnership with the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship. Immediately following the competition, stay for our student Trade Fair and Exhibition where you will have an opportunity to view and purchase unique glass art. FREE.
Mothers Day Sale and Open House
May 6, 7, 8 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Here is a chance to purchase unique jewelry, glass mosaics, coasters, sun catchers, bowls and vases and other elegant glass objects. FREE
Please call 973.353.5961 to register for a class or learn more about GlassRoots.
Our summer course catalog is available; please call Shani Schwab for more details.
We look forward to seeing you!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Stopper Challenge Continued!

Here is the Second half of our Stopper Challenge, courtesy of Bruce. Good Luck everyone! NOTE: I have received the emails - saying we are NEW collectors - Help! Get out your books and catalogues. Try - give it a try!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Blenko Project - Website devoted to Blenko

The Blenko Project is dedicated to recording the past, analyzing the present and being an advocate for the growth and preservation of BLENKO GLASS in West Virginia. http://www.blenkoglass.com/

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Readers Questions

Note: Donna B. We phoned Dave and expect to have answers for you and perhaps photos in the next few days.

Glasslady, My Sister sent me this attached story from your area. Can you find out how much these hearts are and what I need to do to get one, and can I get one for my d
Is there a phone number for Osburn Glass?
Anyother information and photos will be much appreciate.

Loved ones lost are never too far away with these handcrafted glass tributes.
Story by Craig McKeeMILTON -- When our loved ones pass on we usually just have photos and home movies to remember them, but now thanks to a glass maker in Milton, West Virginia a person's legacy can live on in glass forever.
Dave Osburn began turning glass over 35 years ago...
"Glass work is a passion you either going to love it or your going to hate it," says Osburn.
For Dave starting up Osburn Modern Glass company was a dream come true and now his wares are sold throughout 44 states and the world if you count internet sales.
And while plates, bowls, and pitchers are his bread and butter there's a new piece of glass work that's becoming the heart of his hobby.
"You take somebody's mother grandmother uncle whatever and you're creating a one of a kind work of art for them and that makes it special for them," says Osburn.
But it's not as much of who the heart is for that's unique....it's what's inside.
"We can take a small amount of ashes is all it takes and put them in," explains Osburn.
Yes you heard him correctly, cremated remains are rolled into the glass during the heart making process.
"Really first reaction you get is whoa wait a minute now," says Osburn.
Each heart is one of a kind and comes complete engraved with the loved ones name and any inscription the family chooses. For Dave, whose spun glass for over three decades, these Forever Hearts are perhaps the most fulfilling work he's ever done.
"Knowing I'm doing a service to somebody that can bring a smile to their face because they'll have something to remember their loved ones forever. A smile is priceless. That's what makes it worthwhile with these things for me," says Osburn. >
The idea comes from Oregon businessman Mike Langley who had trouble finding any of the larger glass companies to create the customized one of a kind pieces. Dave said yes and the orders are streaming in from across the country.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Glass Art Society - 2009

Questions continue about BLENKO COLLECTORS 2009 meeting schedule.

May I suggest you check out the GAS Conference. This one is on my 2009 list of things to do.
Glass Art Society 39th Annual Conference: Local Inspiration, Global InnovationCorning, New YorkJune 11-13, 2009

For more than 150 years, Corning, New York, has been an important center for glassmaking artistry, innovation, and research. Through the programs and collection of The Corning Museum of Glass and the work of artists in the local community, Corning continues to be a profound influence on the world of glass art. Whether you are an artist, collector, scholar, student or educator, don't miss the return of the GAS conference to Corning in 2009, where you'll have an opportunity to inspire and be inspired by others, and to participate in shaping the future of glass.
Exploring Tiffany Windows in Western New YorkWednesday, June 10, 8 am(7:45 am: board bus)Cost: $140/personIncludes bus transportation and a box lunchMinimum 20, maximum 50 participantsTiffany historians Lindsy R. Parrott and Diane C. Wright lead an in-depth exploration of Tiffany Studios ecclesiastic windows and interiors in Corning and Rochester churches. Ornamental, figural and landscape windows dating from the early 1890s through the 1920s are the focus of this day-long tour. Tiffany mosaics and other richly ornamented fittings for ecclesiastic interiors will also be considered. Ms. Parrott is the Director and Curator of the Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass in New York City. She will discuss the innovative materials and fabrication techniques used by Tiffany to create these windows. Ms. Wright works in the American Decorative Arts Department at the Yale University Art Gallery. She will focus on the designers who worked for Tiffany and the history of the American stained-glass movement.
Sullivan Park Research CenterWednesday, June 10, at 12:30 and 2:30 pmCost: $15/personMaximum capacity of 80 people per tour. Details will be available on the day of the of tourCorning celebrated 100 years of Research & Development in 2008. A tour of the Sullivan Park R&D Center will be offered to Glass Art Society participants. The tour will include an overview of Corning’s R&D programs and facilities followed by demonstrations of three technologies for new products.
Finger Lakes Studio TourWednesday, June 10, 8 amCost: $95/personMaximum 25 participantsTake a ride and discover glass art studios nestled amidst the vineyards of the Finger Lakes. Our tour will visit 4 working glass studios along the shores of Canandaigua Lake, each with its own unique story and treasures. We will enjoy wine-tasting and lunch at one of the oldest wineries in the Finger Lakes, Widmer Wine Cellars.
Niagara Falls, NY Day tripWednesday, June 10, 7:30 am - 8 pmCost: $130/person*Includes: transportation, English speaking guide, admission to the Maid of the Mist, lunch at Hard Rock CafĂ© and guide and driver gratuity. *Pricing is based on 35 passenger minimum and may increase with a lower passenger count. Minimum 35, maximum 50 participants.Tour the best of art and nature on our tour to Buffalo-Niagara Falls – we will visit the Darwin Martin House (a Frank Lloyd Wright designed home), the Albright Know Gallery, as well as enjoy a cruise on the famous Maid of the Mist. Tour includes a “traditional” Buffalo lunch!
Sylvania Light Bulb Factory TourTuesday, June 9, 12:30 pm - 4:30 pmCost: $30/personIncludes: transportation, English speaking guideMaximum 30 participantsVisit the Sylvania light bulb factory. Learn about the history of this plant and its current operations as well as go on a walk-through of the factory floor. Visitors will be able to see the furnace, ribbon machines, frost machines and packaging operations.
Steuben Glass Plant TourThursday, June 11 & Friday, June 128am, 10am, and 12pmMaximum 10 people per tourCost: $15For more than 100 years, Steuben has been at the forefront of glass design, balancing state-of-the-art technological advancements with centuries-old traditional glassmaking techniques. Founded in 1903 by English glassmaker Frederick Carder, Steuben is an American company named after Steuben County, New York, where our design studio and glassworks facility are still located.The company was acquired by Corning Glass Works (now Corning Incorporated) in 1918, and in 1933, Arthur A. Houghton, Jr. was appointed Steuben's president. Soon after, he revolutionized the art glass industry with the introduction of clear Steuben crystal - a new optical glass of unparalleled brilliance and purity formulated by Corning Glass Works scientists. This new formula for extraordinarily pure glass, crafted by the most talented and accomplished designers and glassmakers in the world, has made Steuben the preeminent maker of fine glass internationally. Houghton's profound belief (still one of the driving forces at Steuben today) was that the unique partnership of designer and glassmaker is catalyst to the conception of visionary designs that literally push the art of glassmaking to the edge of creative expression. In Houghton's day as now, Steuben has had but one ideal - to make the finest glass the world has ever known, with strict adherence to distinctive edsign and to the "hand methods" of forming, polishing and engraving.At a time when value is increasingly important, Steuben continues to deliver unsurpassed quality, superior craftsmanship, and unerring attention to design and detail. From graceful, fluid forms sculpted in molten crystal to complex designs cut or engraved on the cooled glass, each perfect piece has earned its characteristic signature in diamond point: Steuben.

The link has additional information -

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Blenko Glass is closed in honor of the holiday. We'll reopen at 9 am on Monday.

The online shop http://www.blenkoglass.com/ remains open 24/7.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Pennsylvania Glass Trail

Blenko Collectors - looking for a summer 'glass event'? Check this one out!
The Pennsylvania Glass Trail gives new meaning to seeing the world through rose-colored glasses –As you hit the road on the PA Glass Trail to explore contemporary art glass, you’ll fall in love with Pennsylvania’s countryside while enjoying the cultural stimulation of glass artists and their work. On your visits to the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts and PA Glass Trail artists’ studios, you’ll learn about how art glass is created, talk to and share in glass artists’ experiences, and discover some of the most beautiful art glass in the state.

The Pennsylvania Glass Trail runs three weekends packages in 2009.
April 25-26
July 11-12
November 7-8

Io receive a trail guide, please call GoggleWorks Center for the Arts at 610.374.4600 or the Banana Factory at 610.332.1300.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Heart of Glass . . . I found this to be a very inspiring story, and I hope you enjoy. Tony P.

Google News Alert for: glassblowing
Museum retrospective features works of a glass masterThe Virginian-Pilot - Norfolk,VA,USALino Tagliapietra broke the glassblowing mold by sharing Murano's industry secrets with aspiring American artists. Above is his''Mandara. ...See all stories on this topic http://hamptonroads.com/2009/04/museum-retrospective-features-works-glass-master
Museum retrospective features works of a glass masterBy Teresa AnnasThe Virginian-Pilot© April 8, 2009
THE BEST GLASSBLOWER in the world began his career as a little boy assisting a glass-working team in Murano, Italy. It was a modest start fueled by his red-hot passion to learn.
Lino Tagliapietra blew through his studies and by 22 had reached the level of glass master in his hometown, a high achievement on an island long renowned for its glass.
Tagliapietra, whose work is the subject of a show opening today at the Chrysler Museum of Art as part of the region's "Art of Glass 2" festival, labored in several glass factories, acquiring skills and opening up possibilities at each one, from Renaissance-style goblets with dragon stems to his invention of a modern sculpture that looks like the planet Saturn.
A turning point came in 1979, at age 45, when he ventured to Seattle. As he taught and befriended aspiring glassartists, a free-wheeling American crew that craved his expertise, Tagliapietra's world got much larger and more colorful.
Now he is 74 and has been an independent artist - not designing or blowing for other artists, such as Dale Chihuly, or for Venetian glass factories - since the mid-1990s. Many in the glass world speak his name with reverence and affection.
His career path has mirrored one of his highly complex glass vessels.
Imagine a piece that began with a modest bubble. More glass was added, the form further blown out, the shape paddled and altered, threads of colored glass wrapped around it. And somewhere along the line, symbolizing his shift to America, he changed the axis of his piece by moving the blowpipe to the side of the vessel, one of his signature, mind-boggling techniques.
Tagliapietra, speaking from his home in Murano, said he liked the analogy for his life's work. "It became bigger and bigger and better and better," said the man everyone calls Lino (pronounced Lee-no). "I like it very much."
With one caveat.
"Probably, I still to grow."
Actually, Tagliapietra's first stop in America was a tree farm in Stanwood, Wash., site of Pilchuck Glass School, 50 miles north of Seattle. In the summer of 1979, he took his first-ever flight to get there, to teach aspiring glass artists. He barely spoke a word of English.
Why go? "Mainly curiosity," he said last week. "Not only curiosity. I love United States forever. I read about Mayflower people. I know about Thanksgiving. I like the movie 'Easy Rider.' I like these kinds of things."
When he got there, he soon discovered the level of his pupils.
"I think at the time they are terrible!"
Even the glass they worked with was poor quality and was "totally difficult to work.
"They try to do some 'filigrana,' " blown glass incorporating slices of "cane," which are long, slender sticks of fused, multicolored glass. "Almost impossible."
Mostly he demonstrated, and they made a stab at it.
The Americans had a different take. "God had come to Pilchuck," pronounced one glassblower in the catalog essay by Susanne Frantz, a glass curator who organized the touring exhibition that is bringing Tagliapietra's work to the Chrysler.
When he arrived in Washington, Tagliapietra "was at the height of his skills and cognizant of a new moment in glass in which he could share his culture and build upon it," Frantz wrote.
Murano had been in a slump since the 1960s, and he had been trying to revitalize its artistic heritage by helping to organize glass workshops at home. He was excited about exploring new forms and ideas. That attitude was not shared by most Muranese glass workers.
He came to like the young Americans. "They no care if the glass is the worst material in the world. They are totally free. They try everything.
"This is why I like it so much."
He returned to Pilchuck to teach 13 times between 1980 and 2003. Those neophyte glass artists of the Pacific Northwest, now a who's who list in American glass, absorbed much technical and aesthetic knowledge from him. In return, he got respect.
"I feel important for them. And everything I say, they follow. I like it. I like it very much.
"I feeling totally the opposite what I'm feeling in Murano. I feeling I am something. I think it's possible to grow and do lots of beautiful things.
"I feel freedom."
At Pilchuck, Tagliapietra was sharing processes that Murano had long held secret, because the island depended heavily on the glass industry. "This make Murano probably a little bit uncomfortable," he said. Back home, some glass workers expressed resentment and maybe some jealousy, he said.
"I have lots of very good friends here, honest," he said of Murano. "But if we go talking about work things or shows, I feel much more comfortable in Seattle," where he and his wife, Lina, live for four or five months each year.
Most Muranese (also called Venetian) glassblowers who leave the island stick with what they know, even living elsewhere, he said. "They never grow or change. Probably I am the first guy after going to States, I change. I change a lot of things.
"I stay still a Venetian, but I do lots of new things."
Tagliapietra's show covers his career as a designer, artist and glassblower from the 1960s into the 2000s. The Museum of Glass in Tacoma organized the exhibition, but the Chrysler's glass curator, Kelly Conway, is responsible for the Norfolk stop.
She's been studying glassblowing at Tidewater Community College and can really marvel at the virtuosity on display. But Tagliapietra's pieces don't always betray his process.
"You get to stuff like this and how, how, how does he do this?" she said, gazing at a 2006 vessel called "Medusa," with surface designs suggesting jellyfish.
She knows he used the "incalmo" technique several times, which entails adding on a separate blown form to an in-progress one. She also knows he turned the axis more than once; that is, he transferred the piece onto a new blowpipe to reorient the bubble. These are complex procedures.
But, even if the technique was completely known: How does he do it?
The answer lies in six decades of daily glassblowing, the influence of many mentors, an awe-inspiring physical stamina and a passion for experimentation.
Those things, plus his visionary "third eye." "We have two eyes, and then we have the one eye inside our brain," he explained. "You see one piece and then you see the transformation that could be the next one." One work leads to another in a chain of inspiration.
In a documentary produced for the exhibition, Tagliapietra is shown working. He looks calm, sometimes whistling as he undergoes complicated procedures that would unnerve any other artist.
When he whistles, that means he's nervous. "It relaxes my stomach and mind," he said. No matter what goes wrong, he needs to keep his team of assistants relaxed.
Many people quiz him about technique. But Tagliapietra quickly warmed to discussing what inspired various works, and what they meant to him.
His exhibition's showstopper is "Endeavor," a flotilla of 35 blown-glass "boats" floating in the air. Each is different, a gem of color and shape and surface patterns.
Tagliapietra said he was inspired by a birdlike boat he saw in a painting in the 1950s, but he did not begin blowing his vision in glass until 1995. "My boat is supposed to be like bird. For me, it's very poetic. Sometimes like a big eagle. Sometimes like a pigeon. It's still boat."
Stand before it and squint, and the piece looks like the rippling waters of the lagoon off Murano, with colorful factory glass sparkling on the surface.
His 2004 piece "Stromboli" came from seeing the active volcano on the island of Stromboli. He said he wanted to evoke the contrast between flowing water, represented in a central stripe of turquoise, and the red-hot lava and golden flame that flank it.
"Mandara," made in 2006, means "forever young," he said. The teardrop-shaped vessel, flattened somewhat into a disk, features curving stripes of orange-red, marine blue and green-gold.
Tagliapietra, one of few glass artists who make their own colors rather than buying them ready-made, saw the brilliant orange while watching a documentary on India.
He created the piece after recovering from a 2002 operation for thyroid cancer. "When they remove the thyroid, I start to feel much better. I feel I must do something very important. I want something very bright, very strong. Something make me up, then I go back to work."
The bright colors lifted his spirit and made a statement.
"It says, 'I want to stay life. I want to be forever young.' "

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Pineapple Wayne Husted 1957

We always publish photos of BLENKO GLASS www.bllenkoglass.com fruits and veggies as I know many of you collect these items. I've never seen this item, and this is the only photo I've seen. Its located on the Vintage Glass website.
http://www.vmglasshouse.com/ GREAT Items and the prices are very fair. hjh

Very rare Blenko pineapple sculpture designed in 1957 by Wayne Husted, made for 1 year only, 5731-PN in Tangerine, Note: professional restoration to one leaf, as pictured, 10.5in.H x 5.125in.D, SPECIAL PRICE $195


I recently visited the Jamestown Glasshouse in Williamsburg, Virginiahttp://www.glassblower.info/jamestown-glasshouse/jamestown-glasshouse.htmlso this Google Alert resonated with me.And in terms of Philadelphia perhaps hosting a GAS Conference at some future date,the article accurately describes the many constituencies which ideally exist to promote the Glass Arts in a region.
Tony Patt
Google News Alert for: glassblowing
Hampton Roads could be next center for glass arts

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Official Word on 2009 WV BIRTHDAY Blenko Vase

The first official word on the 2009 West Virginia Birthday Vase made by Blenko Glass came today.

Christy of Blenko reports the sale will again be held at the Milton, West Virginia Gift Shop it will be on SATURDAY. Mark your calendar now and check the website http://www.blenkoglass.com/ and this blog for future news. We'll post a photo or artistic drawing when its available.

**Photo of a vintage WV Birthday / Blenko Vase.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Beckley , West Virginia

Reader Karen T. writes to complain that I never mention the Southern part of West Virginia, or the Mining history.
Karen sent the following information about her city of BECKLEY, West Virginia.
We love putt putt (miniature golf) and Karen tell me Beckley has the best miniature golf course in the tri state. I must pass along this information to Uncle Reemas who loves putt putt even more than I do.
Karen goes on to say in Beckley one can ski in the winter, fish all seasons, play putt putt, shop, and that they have a Gabriel Brothers Discount Store and some of the very best weekend flea markets in the country. Karen reports buying Blenko and WV Glass for pennys
The following information is from Karen's email and was taken from the Beckley West Virginia Web site.
Visit Beckley, West Virginia, and you will find many scenic and recreational opportunities awaiting you. Two of the most unique attractions are the Beckley Exhibition Coal and the Youth Museum of Southern West Virginia. These popular institutions officially joined in 2002, in an effort to portray the history, culture and character of this uncommon coal-mining region. The Exhibition Coal Mine is the largest and most popular coal heritage destination in the region. After years of planning, the Exhibition Coal Mine has recently completed an extensive renovation that includes a newly opened 14,000 sq. foot, Rahall Company Store, visitor center, coal museum, fudgery and gift shop. A visit will begin here with the purchase of a ticket and a visit to the extensive collection of mining artifacts and tools, geological specimens, photographs, and other features of early life among the coal towns of southern West Virginia
Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine PO Box 2514 Beckley WV 25801 (304)256-1747 (FAX)304-256-1798 Renda Morris - Executive Director rmorris@beckleymine.com or mailto:info@beckleymine.com

"The best miniature golf course
you'll ever play."
- West Virginia: An Explorer's Guide

Sunday, April 05, 2009


EASTER ! At Blenko Glass - every Easter Egg is a 'one of a kind', each Bunny is hand made and individual! All the baskets, eggs, bunnies every item in the Blenko Glass Visitors Center was handmade - Randy Rider and his men have been working the last month to prepare for Easter and Mothers Day anything marked BLENKO was handmade by a West Virginia crafts person. BUY MADE IN WEST VIRGINIA for your child's Easter Basket, for your Easter home decor. Buy Blenko Glass. (304) 743 9081.

http://www.blenkoglass.com/ %10 off on all online orders
Also a great coupon for $5 off each $25 purchase at the gift shop - You can take more than one coupon with you - photocopy from the website.
Easter and Blenko Glass - its a great combination! The baskets, the bunies, the easter eggs.
These items will last a lifetime. Great for decorating or for gift giving.

T- Shirts You Must Have!

Reader ask: Hilary will Blenko make more T-Shirts? If so, When? A quick phone call to BLENKO GLASS 304 743 9081 and you will learn they currently have T-shirts in a variety of 'hot colors' and styles. Go to the Visitors Center! IF you want other T- shirts, these 2 are among my favorite 'Glass Shirts' from on line! hjh

www.cafepress.com - Teresa McGuffey's Online Store http://www.cafepress.com/ to order the shirts shown. I don't have photos of the shirts available at BLENKO GLASS visitors center, when photos of Blenko shirts are available I'll post. hjh

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Charleston Landmark TOP O ROCK

Sale of items at Top o Rock today 8 to 4 see Charleston Gazette for directions.

Henry Elden OBIT - NY Daily Record
CHARLESTON, W.Va.—Charleston architect Henry T. Elden, whose circular hillside home drew national attention, has died. He was 94.
Elden's son, Ted Elden, says his father died Saturday at Top-O-Rock, the glass-and-steel home he designed and built on a Charleston hillside in 1968.
Top-O-Rock has been featured in Parade magazine and on HGTV's "Dream Builders" program.
Elden designed more than 800 buildings across the state, including schools, post offices, hospitals, and the Vining Library at West Virginia UniversityTech.
He was born in Pennsylvania and was a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University. He came to Charleston to take a job as an engineer at Union Carbide and started his architecture business in 1948.

Henry Elden: Designed & built 800+ projects around W. Va., about $ 450 million total value. Photos of Top O Rock Charleston, WVa

Everyone it seems knows about TOP O ROCK the incredible home located in Kanawha City. It was featured last year on HGTV this home retains it ability to take away your breath.
It was built by Henry Elden. he died in January, we recently learned the home will soon be sold. This home has so many light sources - it would be a great home in which to display BLENKO or other American Glass. We must remember to ask son Ted if the family used Blenko tableware in the home. hjh

Friday, April 03, 2009

In any man who dies there dies with him.

His first snow and kiss and fight....Not people die but worlds die in them.

~Yevgeny Yevtushenko, "People"

Things I learned from my Popaw - Its OK to Stop and try again - I also learn that one should invest in property (maybe not so good now) - To be kind to older people and that to be a good listener is a gift. R. F. Copley of Chattaroy, W. Va. died on April 1st. He was 94 years old, an incredible man, strong willed, and a physically strong man, he retired at age 65 but he continued to work, his life was devoted to 'finding the next deal'. My popaw was a remarkable man, he could tell the very best stories - and I knew for certain there was only a thread of truth in each story -but oh - how lovely and entertaining the stories were when I was a child.Popaw spent a very short time in the United State Marines - this short time seem to grow as he aged - and after age 80 his time in the Marines - seem to become the most important of his memories. He dearly loved the United States Marines, he collected in the last fourteen years of his life hundreds of USMC items of memorabilia. Even more than the US Marines, he loved Chattaroy Hallow, his family and his church.

The Rogers Funeral Home of Belfry Ky is in charge of funeral arrangements.

Visitation is Friday at the Chattaroy Church of God

Funeral Saturday Noon at the Chattaroy, WV Church of God

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Stopper Challenge!

Hi Hillary,
Here is a little spur of the moment challenge for your blog readers.
Can you name the particular blenko design that each of these belong?
Extra credit if you know the designer as well. I think that I have
narrowed each photo down to where it is only one particular design.
Good luck !
Bruce Specht

Note: Here is the first batch - the rest will be posted later this week!