When William J. Blenko came to the United States from England in 1893, his vision was to produce and sell American-made "antique" (mouth-blown) flat glass instead of having it imported from Europe. After a few failed ventures, he started The Eureka Glass Company in 1921 and produced stained glass from its Milton, West Virginia glassmaking facility until the Depression. Struggling to stay afloat, Blenko switched his product line to glass tableware, and in 1930, Eureka became Blenko.
Before Blenko employed designers, it had expert finishers on its staff. The first artisans hired for these important positions were Axel Muller and Louis Miller, a pair of Swedish glassblowers who had the background in stemware that Blenko and his son, who joined his father in 1923, lacked. Blenko’s output from the pre-war years is characteristically clean and spare. Its footed goblets and tumblers were uniform in color and simply proportioned. Even the stems were straightforward, though elegant in a casual, distinctly American sort of way.
As the 1930s progressed, Blenko's pieces got a bit fancier. A clear iced-tea glass, for example, would have a colored glass leaf on its outside surface, while dusty-green highball glasses were sometimes wrapped with threads of vivid red. These objects, as well as Blenko’s candleholders, rolled-rim plates, and crackle-body decanters, caught the eye of the folks running Colonial Williamsburg. In 1933, Blenko became the exclusive manufacturer of table and stemware for the historic site.
By the end of the decade, Blenko was also producing amphoras and vases. A new shop foreman named Carl Ebert Erickson had now joined the company. Blenko's line of "Heavy Swedish Type Vases," which have been attributed to Erickson, gave the company its identity just before the war.
After World War II, Winslow Anderson took the company’s design reins. He introduced indented vases of various sizes and colors, bent-neck cruets, and slender, flat-bottom decanters with teardrop stoppers. Anderson laid the groundwork for one of Blenko’s most influential designers, Wayne Husted, who was with the company from 1953 until 1963. During that decade, Husted pushed both forms and color to bring Blenko into step with the prevailing Mid-century Modern aesthetic.
Of particular interest are Husted’s wedge-cut decanters, portrait vases, the Echoes series from the late 1950s, and the Spool decanters, which recall Brancusi’s "Endless Column." In fact, decanters and vertical pieces became something of a Blenko trademark during this period—some pieces stood three feet tall.
In the mid-to-late 1960s, Joel Philip Myers, who is now a well-known artist in his own right, designed for Blenko, injecting the company’s sensibility with humor and whimsy. Especially charming are some of the clear decanters with green or turquoise spouts and stoppers, the lovely coiled and mushroom pieces, and the decanters with cowboy hats and longhorn skulls for stoppers...
One of the tricks about collecting Blenko is to know how to identify the company’s marks since most of its pieces are not signed. The exceptions to this rule are the engraved signatures on the bottoms of pieces in 1958, the sandblasted Wayne Husted-designed logo used between 1958 and 1961, and the pieces signed "Blenko Joel Philip Myers," which grace the bottoms of products made for Gump’s in 1964.
Instead, the company practice has been to affix a foil, hand-shaped label to its pieces with the words "BLENKO HANDCRAFT" on it—paper was substituted during World War II. This label was used from the 1930s through 1982. A different paper label of a stylized Blenko glassblower was glued to the Raindrop, Regal, and Rialto Specialty Lines in 1960 and 1961.
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Ledecky shocked after improving 1500 world record in heatsBristol Herald Courier (press release) (blog), August 3rd
We also have in-store printing of cards and invitations for all occasions. We can even offer you personal assistance with choosing your wedding invitations here in our store. We carry only top of the line gifts including Arthur Court,Blenko Glass...Read more
Event honors the late Dr. WeinsweigHuntington Herald Dispatch, August 2nd
Winners and volunteers got Blenko glass awards. "Exercise can be like work, and we try to give people a reason to exercise," Duke said. "We realize Huntington is not a destination point, so why do you do this? We offer great swag and, for a little race...Read more
AC/DC's Rudd pleads not guilty to breaching detention rulesBristol Herald Courier (press release) (blog), August 2nd
We carry only top of the line gifts including Arthur Court,Blenko Glass, Aromatique and Willow Tree Figurines. Please come by and see the Fullers - Jackie, John Ed, Lynn, and Johnny and let us assist you with gift wrapping, shipping and gift selections...Read more
Blenko's 8th Annual Festival of GlassWOWK, August 1st
Blenko's annual festival of Glass kicked off Friday, July 31 and goes on until Saturday, August 1. A wide variety of classes will be going on during the festival. Many classes were sold out. There was a signing event with President Walter Blenko Jr...Read more
Blenko hosts annual Festival of GlassHuntington Herald Dispatch, July 31st
HUNTINGTON - For the eighth consecutive year, Blenko Glass Company is hosting its Festival of Glass at its location on Blenko Road in Milton. The festival, which offers the public an opportunity to view its artisans at work as well as to participate in...Read more
Blenko's Festival of GlassHuntington Herald Dispatch, July 30th
MILTON - Glass collectors can try their hand at the craft this weekend during Blenko Glass' 8th annual Festival of Glass. The glass company is offering a variety of classes during the festival, many of which have already sold out. Classes with space...Read more
Blenko Glass to host annual Festival of GlassThe Independent, July 30th
Signing events are scheduled with Walter Blenko Jr., president of the company. Also offered will be guided tours, glass blowing demonstrations, a live radio remote from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and glass giveaways. Two limited edition pieces, called Light...Read more
Blenko Glass CompanyPoint Pleasant Register, July 25th
This American glass company began producing glass in 1893 when an Englishman named William John Blenko brought his glass making skills to the United States. Using what was known as Old World techniques, Blenko produced window glass in his ...Read more