Heart of Glass - Blenko Glass

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

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Husted pulled spout decanters

Husted pulled spout decanters

 I have always enjoyed these pulled-spout designs by Husted and I know they must have been a challenge to execute. On the left is the Blenko #5921 and on the right is a Blenko #5823. Both of these are in Blenko's distinctive Tangerine.

Bruce S

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Reader Glass ID

Reader Glass ID - Can you help ID this glass?

decanter approx 15" tall (13" w/o stopper)
thank you for any id help, also value?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Blenko to release commemorative annual birthday piece on June 20.

TOM HINDMAN/DAILY MAIL The commemorative piece is fired at Blenko Glass for West Virginia's 152nd statehood anniversary.
 TOM HINDMAN/DAILY MAIL Designer Arlon Bayliss looks over samples of his design at Blenko on Thursday, May 14, 2015.
 TOM HINDMAN/DAILY MAIL Randy Rider, product supervisor, holds a numbered and signed commemorative piece for WV’s 152nd statehood anniversary that he created on May 14, 2015.
 TOM HINDMAN/DAILY MAIL Arlon Bayliss’ design is shown here, in the mold that the molten glass will be cast into, at Blenko on Thursday, May 14, 2015.
 TOM HINDMAN/DAILY MAIL Arlon Bayliss looks over his designs at Blenko on Thursday, May 14, 2015. Bayliss has been designing the commemorative statehood birthday pieces for eight years.
 TOM HINDMAN/DAILY MAIL Daniel Chapman, who has been hand making glass molds at Blenko for 25 years of his 37 years being employed at Blenko, carves a mold on Thursday, May 14, 2015. He made the commemorative piece for WV’s 152nd statehood anniversary this year out of cherry wood.
 TOM HINDMAN/DAILY MAIL Each commemorative Autumn Flame is numbered and signed for WV’s 152nd statehood anniversary.
 TOM HINDMAN/DAILY MAIL The Autumn Flame, a commemorative piece for WV’s 152nd statehood anniversary, is displayed at Blenko Glass Company on Thursday, May 14, 2015.
MILTON — The Autumn Flame, an oak leaf laced with a golden amber and traced with the gradually fading tangerine red along the rim and base, embodies not only the unique skillset of Blenko Glass Company’s production team, but an aspect of the state’s natural beauty as well.
Standing about a foot tall, the annual Blenko state birthday piece is designed to pay homage to the state as West Virginia reaches 152 years of statehood.
To continue the tradition that began in the 1980s, only 152 Autumn Flame pieces are being released.
As production of Blenko’s 152nd birthday celebration piece slowly comes to a close, anticipation is rising as the final pieces in this year’s collection are manufactured and stored for their release.
Arlon Bayliss, retired instructor of glass studies and designer of each birthday piece for the last eight years, said creating a piece that represents the state and Blenko as a whole was more challenging than he expected.
“When I think about the theme of West Virginia or what’s important to West Virginia, I think about the countryside or the people of West Virginia: things that are natural resources,” Bayliss said.
Bayliss said though he was initially fixated on a tree shape for the year’s design, after producing a model and sending it to Blenko, he settled for a leaf shape, which would translate easily into an off-center vase or bottle.
“Oftentimes leaves are curved or bent and they look like they’re blowing in the wind, so I wanted to make the shapes lively and fresh and interesting, as well as the colors,” Bayliss said.
Bayliss said the company chose to pursue a red instead of the usual blues and yellows; something rare for the state piece.
“It was a joy to play with Blenko’s colors and to think about which color choice to make,” Bayliss said. “Often for us the problem is not finding a good color but choosing from several good solutions, and we have to get really fussy about our choices.”
“Blenko’s known for our tangerine red,” added Randy Rider, production supervisor. “We’ve never had — in 35 years — a tangerine piece.”
Bayliss said this year’s design was based on oak leaves, which account for 60 percent of the state’s foliage.
Although Blenko does seek profit from the state pieces, Bayliss and Rider agreed that designing a “knockout” piece was the primary concern.
“Designing and making the West Virginia piece is a really interesting challenge because every year we try to make something that’s different to the previous year,” Bayliss said. “As the designer, what I’m trying to do is to show what Blenko is capable of. I try to show the variety of skills that the glass workers have.”
In order to create each unique shape, the glass is first gathered from the furnace where it reaches a heated 2,100 degrees. Once the glass is heated thoroughly, it’s placed into a hand-carved mold made of cherry wood.
The molds are placed then in water to prevent further burns. Each mold lasts for about 200 to 300 pieces.
The glass blower then proceeds to blow a modest amount of air into the stem of the glass to expand from the inside out.
“When the hot glass is blown into the mold, the glass blower has to be really careful about the distribution of glass so that it’s got the right thickness and shape,” Bayliss said.
The glass is then taken off the rod and chilled with water around the top before the piece is cut. Lifted by the base by a second metal rod, the rod’s glass tip balances the shaping piece.
Glass is then placed in the “glory hole” to be reheated and manipulated into the proper shape.
“Sometimes it requires bending, sometimes it requires tweezering,” Bayliss said. “Once the piece is finished, it can’t just be put away. It has to cool down gradually from 1,000 degrees.”
The piece is then placed on a fork stick and carried to the lehr, a special glass cooling kiln. Achieving room temperature takes approximately five hours before a sticker is hand-placed on a spot unique for each product.
Determining if the glass is perfect is a skill Rider has honed over his 35 years at Blenko, Bayliss said.
“It’s a craft and a skill, and I love it,” Rider said. “There’s nothing like Blenko.”
“Like a lot of highly-skilled people, he’s always up for a challenge,” Bayliss said.
Rider recalled the day he started at Blenko with fondness.
“I interviewed that morning and went to work that evening. It was the best decision I ever made in my life other than marrying my wife,” Rider said.
Although every day is an adventure for Rider, he said he especially looked forward to Bayliss’ visits and the challenges that followed.
“I wake up before the alarm starts,” Rider said. “He stretches my abilities and makes me better.”
Bayliss said one of the most motivating aspects of the entire project comes from the collectors’ enthusiasm for their state and love for Blenko.
“I guarantee the day or the night before, collectors will be lining up and asking: ‘What are you going to do for next year? What do you have in mind for next year?’ And then they start telling us what they would like and they have their own ideas for what would be a good idea,” Bayliss said.
Bayliss added that the state’s value of environment and wildlife were visible in all aspects of the operation.
“West Virginia really treasures its national forests. They’re hugely important to the state and if it weren’t for the trees we wouldn’t have any of the wildlife or hunting,” Bayliss said. “The whole life cycle is rooted around trees.”
This year, Bayliss said Blenko would continue to release two additional companion pieces for the series, a trend that started two years ago.
The flattened Summer Shade, blown in Desert Green, and the Spring At Last, blown in Mountain Spring, a debuting shade, will cost $55 plus tax.
The Autumn Flame, which will release on June 20, will be $152 plus tax and is excluded from discounts and coupons.
Each piece will be signed and numbered by Bayliss and company owner Walter Blenko and will be available at the Blenko Visitor Center. Customers must be present to purchase the Autumn Flame but may purchase the companion pieces offline at midnight on June 20.
- See more at: http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150514/DM07/150519533/1420#sthash.alAfBrob.dpuf

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday feature - Brenda Ellis

Sunday feature - Brenda Ellis

I want to introduce you to  a Blenko Employee and Her ( yes HER) work.  We ask her to send a brief bio and some photos of her work to share with you.

Dear Hillary,

Thank you for your interest in my pieces - I'm honored.

I was born in Huntington but grew up in Vicksburg, Mississippi.  As a little girl, I can still remember the magical, yet calming effect of sunlight pouring through the stained glass windows at our church.  So for as long as I can remember, I've been facinated with color and glass.
At seventeen, I moved back to Huntington to attend Marshall University.  In the photography lab at Marshall,  I spent many hours in the darkroom experimenting with exposure and contrast to distinguish my photographs from the other students.  Five of these prints were chosen during my freshman year to be displayed at the Huntington Museum of Art.

I've always enjoyed creating objects with my hands - whether it is designing original needlepoint canvases to reflect my choices in color, pattern and texture to constructing elaborate murals and stained glass mobiles.

Nearly two years ago I began working at Blenko as the quality control inspector.  I was immediately drawn to the challenge of transforming molten glass into pieces of usable and decorative items with the same basic tools that were used thousands of years ago.  Working at Blenko Glass has given me the opportunity to hone this skill and pursue my passion of creating unique and colorful pieces of art glass.  For over 120 years Blenko Glass has rightfully earned the respect and admiration of glass lovers throughout the world and I'm proud to be a part of this small company that provides an invaluable contribution to West Virginian culture.

I will send photographs of some of my favorite pieces, but if you would like a certain picture, please let me know.

Once again, thank you.
Brenda Ellis

We've ask Brenda for more photos - which we'll publish here - when they arrive.   If you visit the Blenko Glass Visitors Center - gift shop ask if
Brenda Ellis' paper weights and other objects of art are available for purchase.
Happy Shopping!   Remember when you purchase Blenko Glass.  Each items is handcrafted for you by the talented men and women working under the dynamic Randy Rider with the goal of making quality one of a kind items for You.
Buy Made in USA when possible.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Blenko Project www.blenkoproject.org

The Blenko Project is seeking applications for Board member.  We have two vacancies.
If you have interest please send email with your area of interest to
We are also seeking a volunteer with computer / IT skills to assist with the backload of email.  If you have this set of skills and four or five hours you
can donate each month please contact us at the above address.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Blenko - WV Birthday Vases

Do you collect the WV Birthday Vases?
If so we now have information on 80 - 85 that are for sale
and several ( 10) others.
Also Tammy Fowler from Trophy Antiques in Charleston
has the 81  and  three other Birthday Vases.

Let us know what you need to complete your collection and we'll add to our list and notify you when a collector is selling.

IF your WV Birthday Vase collection is complete please allow us to record your name and state to our list of folks who own -  Birthday Vase Complete Set.

We continue to have issues with 'blogger'  hopefully this will be corrected in the next few days. 
Thank you.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Husted and Baugh?

This was article  sent to us by
Blog follower Dr Maggie
Hillery, we know you adore Wayne Husted as do we - saw this post and thought it would be appropriate for blog readers.
Happy to help.
Baugh ’53 decanter selected for Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum collection 4/23/15 A Blenko Glass Co. decanter and stopper, whose concept, design, and execution are attributed to Betty Baugh, AU Class of 1953, was selected for a Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum collection this past winter. The Cooper-Hewitt, which was renovated and reopened in December 2014, is the only museum in the nation devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design. Housed in the former residence of Andrew Carnegie, the museum has undergone a transformative renovation over the past three years to restore its historic splendor and create 60 percent more gallery space in which to present 210,000-piece collection and showcase major design exhibitions. The museum opened to the public on Dec. 12, 2014 with 10 inaugural exhibitions and new visitor experiences featuring breakthrough technologies. The Cooper-Hewitt website notes: “The Blenko Glass Company represents the combination of technological advances in glassmaking with original designs noted for their focus on color, a key element of the glassware’s impact….The company earned national recognition, especially for the creation of a strong ruby red glass that could be double fired. Red, a notoriously fugitive color in glass, was generally unstable could not be fired a second time. Blenko’s glass could be double fired without loss of color, which enabled enamel decorators to paint on it. William Blenko, the company’s founder, patented the formula in 1924, ensuring its popularity with enamellers. “The subsequent decision to launch a glass tableware line meant this color entered a field previously reserved for ceramics….. Although the work of the company’s first designers achieved much critical acclaim, the designers were largely uncredited until Blenko hired company’s first design director, Winslow Anderson, in 1947. The role of design director was progressive for its time, as it was unusual to have a full time in-house position providing overall design direction to a firm’s output. Subsequent design directors, Wayne Husted, Joel Philip Myers, and John Nickerson, were all involved in the Studio Glass movement, as innovators or practitioners …. “The technical achievements of this decanter design, developed under Husted’s design direction, are ones of color and form. The tangerine-to-yellow effect results from the part of the heat-reactive glass going back into the fire to create the tangerine color while the part kept away from the fire remains yellow. “The form comes from the glass being blown between two pieces of ornate crown molding, creating a flat form shaped by the negative of the molding. The tangerine and double color pieces became some of Blenko’s best sellers produced during Husted’s time, even though he may have preferred his designs with uniform color. This decanter’s striking colors, combined with its undulating narrow form and irregular surface, shows a sense of the budding Studio Glass movement. “According to Husted, his ex-wife, Betty Baugh, was responsible for the concept, design, and execution of the decanter. Baugh, who trained as an industrial designer, produced glass designs for companies such as Anchor Hocking and Libbey. This is her only design for Blenko …. “ The decanter and stopper are dated 1956 and listed at the Cooper-Hewitt as Design # 566, glass - See more at: http://www.alfred.edu/pressreleases/viewrelease.cfm?ID=11325#sthash.87Zu4cVp.dpuf
Google search found the following about Betty Baugh.
Betty Baugh Design is an industrial design consultancy based in San Francisco, CA credited with developing award-winning product designs in glassware, metal, ceramics, housewares, foodservice, decorative accessories home products and architectural interiors. Headed by Betty Baugh FIDSA, she brings new design methodology in form development, tooling molds/patterns and prototypes to her work for clients including Nambe L.L.C., Gibson Overseas, Inc. Rogaska Slatina Glass, Focus Electrics, Libbey Glass, Anchor Hocking Glass, Lancaster Glass, Colony Glass, Owens Corning Fiberglass, Black & Decker, Progressive International, Villeroy & Boch, William Sonoma and Microsoft. Her glass architectural applications include concepts for USG Interiors and installations in the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank and Comerica Bank in San Jose, CA.

Betty received her degrees from the NY State College of Industrial Design at Alfred University and Stephens College. She has served as an Industrial Design Instructor at California College of the Arts, (CCA), San Francisco Academy of Arts and guest Industrial Design lecturer at San Francisco State University, San Jose State University, Pasadena Art Center, Arizona State University and the University of Kansas. As a guest lecturer, she conducted a Housewares Workshop at LG Electronics in Seoul, Korea was a guest speaker at the International Design Forum at Dongguan in the Guangdong Province, China, and the ICSID design Forum, in Santiago, Chile.

Betty Baugh’s leadership role as an independent design consultant has included all aspects of product design while also serving as a leader in the design community. Betty was recognized internationally by being elected President of the Industrial Designers Society of America. She also represented the IDSA membership as a delegate to the ICSID (International council of Societies of Industrial Design) conferences in Seoul, Korea, Sidney, Australia, and Toronto, Canada.

Her work has received awards from the Toledo Museum, The Tacoma Washington Museum, was nominated for a product design award at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, The Northwest Industrial Design Invitational and has been
Decanter at Afred University

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Bella Boca

Arlon Bayliss -   Bella Boca!   Blenko Glass doesn't get better than this!