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Heart of Glass - Blenko Glass

Blenko Glass is a West Virginia treasure that spans generations. Nothing symbolizes the state of West Virginia better or more beautifully than Blenko Glass. We will discuss current and former craftsmen and designers and how important it is that Blenko and West Virginia glass be appreciated and valued by the younger generation.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

HOW TO NURTURE NEW GLASS COLLECTORS

One of the best sites for Blenko Glass http://serenityantiques.com/ Serenity Glass proprietor Larry wrote this article for Heart of Glass. FOOD FOR THOUGHT on a Sunday Morning?

HOW TO NURTURE NEW GLASS COLLECTORS

As an avid glass Collector and retail storeowner I have been often perplexed by the question. “Why are there so few young collectors”? I think I have part of the answer. How often have you heard or made these statements. ”I couldn’t have these things in my home they are breakable and I have children”. “Keep your hands in your pockets these things are breakable”, “We can’t go in here all of this stuff is breakable”, “Oh!!! Don’t go near that you will break it”. Or any number of comments similar to this, causing the next generation of glass collector, to be afraid to be around things of beauty. (Ps. I have much more breakage, in my store, caused by careless adults than children.)

Cultivating the next generation of collector is up to us, the current collectors, through education. I have been actively been working on this solution for the past six years. It started when my granddaughter, now seven, began to notice the many pieces of brightly colored glassware displayed throughout my home. Many people said that I would have to put away and remove the temptation of the highly breakable glass. This was an idea I did not agree with. At the time I was babysitting Emma 4 to 5 evenings per week. Thus an opportunity for an experiment appeared. Every evening Emma and I would sit down in front of an antique curio cabinet full of small brightly colored glass items ranging from color sample blocks to brightly colored cordials and glass figures.

I would remove one item at a time touch it to her cheek and say “pretty”, allowing her to experience the texture of the glass. Then she was given the piece of glass to hold and touch. After a few moments we would repeat this process with other pieces of glass until her attention waned. This soon became a nightly ritual, Emma would go to the curio sit down and point to the glass and say “pitty”. As time went on I saw that Emma was attracted more to the glass animals, especially the swans, so we started her a collection of her own. I started with glass swans as she really loved them and are not hard to find and identify. This collection, in part resides in my store Serenity ‘Glass with Class’, where they are played with, decorated with ribbons, flower petals and other decorating items found around the store. About two months before Emma’s fifth birthday I received a Fenton white satin songbird with crystal decorations. For about the next six weeks the songbird was in Emma’s hands every moment she was at the store. I was probably asked a hundred times if she could have it for her birthday. About two weeks before her birthday I boxed up the bird and put it away. After that every time she came to the store she asked about the bird and I would tell her it was gone but I would try to find her another. After all gifts were opened at her birthday I came out with a small cardboard box and said Emma there is one more gift. Here eyes brightened as she guessed what was in the box. She was thrilled, and made sure that everyone adult and child was permitted to hold, touch to his or her cheek and be told the bird was pretty. The bird to this day has a very prominent place of display in her parent’s living room.

I use a similar technique in my store when children come in with their parents. When the parental nervousness begins to appear I take the child to the display case holding Mosser animals and clowns, each child is given a piece of glass to hold and appreciate. Within a very few minutes a transformation occurs, the child begins to feel the beauty and the delicateness of the glass. Their urge to touch every piece is removed as it is no longer the forbidden fruit, and they begin to enjoy the beauty found in the more elegant glass in the shop.

I challenge all collectors to share this experience with the next young potential collector you come across. I predict if we all do this the future of BLENKO and other American Glass Houses will be bright and safe for generations to come.


Thanks to Larry from TX for this article!

Stories / thoughts/ photos about Glass Collecting? Send to theblenkoproject@aol.com we'll publish in Heart of Glass Blog.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hillary i see there is a lot of questions about the photos so i will try to clarify.. Harry worked with Carl Erickson till Carl left in 42 when i was verry young we went to Ohio to visit him at his shop, He and Harry greated eachother like longlost brothers. His shop was bigger than Osburns but smaller than Blenko. Osburn said the the cane looked like the ones he and Jesse made at Blenko and the collor is Safire. My wife Bev had Osburn make her the cat and mouse in her faverite collors. Monty Dunlavy worked at Blenko and with Harry in Indinia and made beautiful glass on his own and i have been looking for a peace for a while. The green peace is 16 in. tall and i havent had a chance to try to identify it. Any more questions fill free, I will try my best to ansure. Thanks Larry T.

Anonymous said...

The ruby jug was a peace that Carl was instructing Harry to put on a foot and handles it is a one of peace, no stoper or ground for one. Thanks Larry T.

lewisdvdphd said...

Another suggestion is this blog.
Blenko Glass could and should have a link to this blog and any other blog devoted totally to Blenko Glass.
Upwardly mobile professonals 30 to 50 with a few over 60year olds + Margie we are the group many companies attempt to attract.

Anonymous said...

OH NO LEWIS,
DO NOT HOLD YOUR BREATH WAITING FOR A LINK TO OCCUR
IN THE OVERLY BRILLANT MIND . . . . THIS BLOG, RICK BLENKO, BLENKO COLLECTORS, PBS NONE OF THE ABOVE ARE GOOD FOR BLENKO.
THE NEW YOUNGER MANAGEMENT HAS A VISION OF THE FUTURE THAT DOES NOT INCLUDE THE ABOVE OR YOU.
SHALL WE ALL WAIT PATIENTLY WHILE THEY REVEAL THE PLAN? IT WILL CERTAINLY INCLUDE EXCELLENT GLASS DESIGNED BY TOP QUALITY

MARKETED - - - - THIS WOULD BE NECESSARY JUST TO TREAD WATER.
IN MY PROFESSIONAL LIFE WE HAVE THE ... NEIL'S FIRST LAW OF LANGUAGE . .." Never let your sense of morals interfere with doing the right ... If written correctly, legalese ( OR GLASS MANAGEMENT PLANS) is perfectly incomprehensible . ... If one synchronized swimmer drowns, do the rest have to drown too? .... sometimes only means that all the fools are on the same side. ..."
APPROPRIATE FOR BLENKO?


MOUNTAIN RITA

Dr.BOB said...

Mountain Rita
A great number of collectors both ladies and gentlemen value Rick Blenko and his charm, the depth of his desire to see Blenko flourish is a matter of public opinion.
I agree he was instrumental in the PBS programs and he made an excellent Face of Blenko. He was a good speaker, he was charming, he was a good promoter.
Rick departed Blenko and has moved on with other interest.
Rick was on the payroll.
To the best extent of my knowledge, Blenko Collectors Group, PBS, and this Blog cost Blenko Glass nothing.
I fail to see the association?
Don't misunderstand my comment, I agree and complain at intervals about the lack of publicity given by Blenko to this blog, and other volunteer efforts.
My point is Hirings and Lay offs and terminations at Blenko are not our business.

chitrakahn said...

Mountain Rita
Dr Bob
I fail to see Dr Hilary commenting on lack of inclusion or failure to include a Heart of Glass Blog link on Blenko's website.
Did I not read the blog has between 3-4 thousands hit a week?
If so, it would appear Heart of Glass is a success w/o the link.
Larry, its no surprise your shop was so beloved "Nuture" is a verb my Dad used often when referring to his client base. Dale Carneige also uses this word frequently. This lesson Blenko Management has yet to learn.

bridgett said...

Chitra
Lack of comment from Hillary may not denote her happiness, perhaps she knows
He who angers you controls you.
Now allowing ones self to become involved in meaningless chatter doesn't necessarily denote pleasure.
Dr Bob and the others are correct, a link should exist, promoting the Blog is an expensive way to promote hand crafted Virginia glass.
Now more about Harry Thompson, why did he leave Blenko, where did he go after Blenko, did he open his own shop, is he living now, does he sign his work?
How will I know I am buying Harry Thompson made glass?
These are my burning questions for the week of July 28th.

Anonymous said...

Larry,
Very well written article, food for thought and information all vendors should read, learn from and perhaps alter their behaviors toward children and young adults.
Sol

Anonymous said...

Larry
Yes, yes, yes. I take my neices and nephew exploring in vintage shops, I share all I know about American Glass with them as we shop. I lend them American Glass books and magazines to read.
Today I made copies of your article and sent it to my children, and other family member also sent the article to the chamber of commerce and the shops in my town that sell vintage glass.
Margie Hale

Anonymous said...

Chitra
Were you trying to be funny when you wrote promoting Heart of Glass is an expensive way to promote Blenko?
Does it cost money? I may be doing something illegal as I didn't sign up or pay any fees to the Herald, simply bookmarked the blog and return weekly.
Karen

glassbug said...

Larry
Wish you had been my grandad.