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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Recent News: Blenko Art Glass

Source: Google News

Capitol Market has exclusive Blenko Valentine's vase
Charleston Gazette, January 31st

West Virginia Marketplace, at Capitol Market, will offer this exclusive, limited-edition Blenko vase for Valentine's Day. Walter Blenko, owner of the famous glass company, will be present for a glass-signing event at Capitol Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p...Read more

Wellesley High School honor roll, Q1
Wicked Local Wellesley, January 16th

Lauren Patricia Barnard, Benjamin Robert Bedenkop, Nicholas Crawford Blenko, Matthew William Carrigan, Tatiana Laura Chinitz, Brendan Joseph Connors, Angeline Claire Diana, Lamia Sarkis Farah, Korinna Irene Garfield, Olivia Liana Hanron, Lindsay ...Read more

Officials to vote on Brush Creek sewage tank
Tribune-Review, January 14th

North Huntingdon commissioners are expected to vote next Thursday on whether to approve site plans for the tank project, said Andrew Blenko, the township's director of planning. On Jan. 5, the municipal planning commission recommended approval of the ...Read more

Saltsburg hires former chief as part-time police administrator
Tribune-Review, January 9th

Council also discussed the borough's annual Chapter 94 municipal wasteload management report, which is usually prepared by former borough engineer Andy Blenko at a rate of $850. Don Kelly, Saltsburg's supervisor of streets, buildings and sewage, noted ...Read more

Blenko Glass slates holiday open house
State Journal, November 23rd

30 Blenko Glass Co. will present its annual Holiday Sale and Open House. The three-day event will offer shoppers an array of holiday glass items as well as demonstrations and classes in which visitors can view and/or participate in the glass making...Read more

Blenko Glass celebrates WV's birthday with special vase
WOWK, June 20th

Blenko Glass is part of West Virginia's history and for the last 34 years Blenko celebrates the history of the mountain state by selling a specially designed hand blown vase, honoring the birthday of West Virginia's statehood. "When a person buys a...Read more

People Already Lined Up for W.Va. Birthday Blenko Sale Saturday
WSAZ-TV, June 19th

MILTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- West Virginia turns 151 this year, and in birthday tradition, Blenko Glass in Milton is preparing to sell its annual birthday piece. Nearly two dozen people were already lined up Wednesday to get of the special pieces. The sale...Read more

Blenko crafts birthday piece
Huntington Herald Dispatch, May 21st

Work on the 2014 West Virginia Birthday piece, Sunrise over Appalachia, began earlier this month, and the piece is expected to be available for purchase at 8 a.m. June 21 at the Blenko Gift Shop in Milton. The piece, a fade of light topaz to turquoise...Read more