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, April 13, 2008

Blenko Man - Museum of American Glass

Blenko Man at the Museum of American Glass in Weston, WVa.

Blenko Man, a sculpture assembled from colorful Blenko glass vases and other glass forms, was dedicated on October 19, 2007 during the grand re-opening celebration of the Museum of American Glass in West Virginia. The near life-sized cowboy resides in a sidewalk display window of the museum’s new location in Weston.
Blenko Man is the idea and gift of Rock Wilson, of Pennsboro, WV who has been collecting Blenko Glass Co. glass for almost 20 years and was drawn to Blenko because “Blenko glass is fun and I love the odd forms, vibrant colors and fantastic size….some pieces are 3 to 4 feet tall.”
Because Blenko made vases shaped like heads and ashtrays shaped like hands and feet, Wilson thought that a man could be created. As a friend and business associate of Dean Six, founder and director of the museum, he wanted to contribute to the museum yet wasn’t sure how to put it together. Then last fall, fate intervened when internationally recognized sculptor John Zidek moved to Pennsboro and a partnership was born.
John Zidek has exhibited at Art Expo NY and has pieces in the collections of such well known people as Kenny Rogers, Waylon Jennings and Ross Johnson, former CEO of Nabisco. In addition he was an invited Artist at Planetfest 1997-NASA Celebration of Rover Landing on Mars and has a large installation at the Fox Cities Children’s Museum in Wisconsin. He has worked with several materials, but currently is focused on copper wire sculpture which works so well for Blenko Man. Thus Zidek took on the project eagerly.
Mr. Wilson provided 18 glass objects from his personal collection noting that it was hard to give up the piece that forms the right arm as it is signed by Richard Blenko, fourth generation president of the firm. In selecting the glass to be used, Wilson tried to include as much variety as possible in color, size and shape as well as age including pieces from the 1960’s until the present time. A problem arose when he had only one hand and one foot, but the Blenko factory graciously made a special production run of hands and feet that were originally made in the 1970’s. (The hand represents the company’s outline logo indicating that the products are handmade.) The only minor glitch was that the glass molds are only for left hands and feet, yet the Blenko Man proudly lifts aloft his right left hand.
A western theme was selected to use the glass cactus, steer heads and cowboy hat available in Wilson’s collection. Originally the cowboy hat was to be of clear glass, but his two year old son made a move that caused a shift to a rare ruby colored one instead. The hats are currently in production in clear and topaz.
Adding to the western style, Blenko Man sits surrounded by sand and cactus creating a little bit of desert in West Virginia.
Showcased inside the museum is beautiful American made glass arranged by form and or by company. It is amazing to see how many glass houses once operated in the region of Western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. Once a thriving industry, there are only a few handmade glass companies still in business and one is Blenko which began in 1893. Located in Milton, WV its colored glass for stained glass windows and architecture has long been widely used. And the lovely shapes and colors of its decorative and utilitarian wares can be found in homes throughout the country.
The Museum of American Glass in West Virginia is open year round noon to 4:30pm 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 12,000 square feet with nearly 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.
Note: Thank you to Dean Six of the Museum of American Glass for providing this information.


Dr.BOB said...

Thank you
futher Dr Homburg
for yet another informational
column about West Virginia Glass.
Now you should be reading oral pathology and getting ready for boards right?
How do you acquire all this information.
Is it ok to copy? and quote you?
I agree with the person who said these column should be made into a book, you and Mr. Blenko could co author also with those Texas informants.

sweetdoc said...

Rock Wilson sounds like your kind of man, I think you should immediately offer your hand in marriage and join your glass.
Assuming (a) he isn't married (b) he has more glass (c) you know we are teasing
as only this man will equal your obsession with Blenko Glass. My staff and I will drive to Weston next week. We'll send ya photos.
Thank you and Thank Rock Wilson.

Anonymous said...

Is there a fee to visit this museum
and directions for getting to the museum.
Margie Hale

Dr.BOB said...

Opps. You should apologize quickly Sweetdoc.

Anonymous said...

Read the column Hilly has good direction in this column
If you still have problems write again include your phone number and I will call you

bridgett said...

A road trip to WV with my neices and nephews is in the works - the state parks and other natural beauty and this museum. Cultural enrichment and a good time.

sweetdoc said...

We made the trip to Weston
Warning you can't do it all in one day and you will want to return, also the town is full of shops and great places to eat.
We will be going back.