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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Source: Google News
Blenko Glass To Celebrate West Virginia DayWCHS-TV8, June 19th
West Virginia is giving gifts on its 150th birthday, starting with a limited edition commemorative glass keepsake. Blenko Glass is holding its annual West Virginia birthday celebration Thursday. The company's visitor's center will open at 8:00 a.m. and...Read more
Mark and Linda Heister's Home In La Porte, Indiana Is The Product Of Years Of ...Huffington Post, June 19th
Weekly Roundup Find #6. Vintage 1962 Wayne Husted for Blenko Decanter | <em>(p0pup)</em> | <a href="http://zuburbia.com/blog/2013/06/16/ebay-roundup-of-vintage-home-finds-90/" target="_hplink">CLICK HERE</a> for more info...Read more
Blenko to host annual celebrationHuntington Herald Dispatch, June 18th
MILTON -- Blenko Glass Co. is having its annual West Virginia Birthday Celebration on Saturday, June 22. The Visitor Center will open at 8 a.m. for this special event, where Blenko will sell its 33rd West Virginia Birthday piece. Made of ice blue...Read more
Photos and history sought for Blenko GlassDaily Mail - Charleston, June 16th
If you own a unique piece of Blenko Glass or if your family member worked at Blenko and you would like to assist with information about his employment or you need more information, please email TheBlenkoProj...@aol.com. The Blenko Project is seeking ...Read more
Stained glass windows at burned Denver church get artisan treatmentDenver Post, June 15th
It's very rare Blenko stained glass, "handmade and mouth-blown," said Jane, "made the same way as European antique glass." This jewel-toned stained glass represents a crossroads of American history, one that blends master craftsmen with early church ...Read more
Blenko's W.Va. birthday piece has 'heart' themeCharleston Gazette, June 15th
According to a news release from Blenko, this year's birthday piece celebrates how West Virginians hold each other in their hearts: "Made of ice blue colored glass to represent a mountaineer's freedom, this 11-inch-tall ballooning vase expands with...Read more
Volunteers recognized during annual meeting at the YMCAHuntington Herald Dispatch, June 1st
The Blenko Project is currently seeking photos of Blenko and collecting oral histories from glass workers and their families. If you own a collector or unique piece of Blenko Glass, If your family member worked at Blenko and you would like to assist...Read more
Blenko Art Honors Rosie the Riveters in HuntingtonWOWK, May 22nd
Local artwork honors Rosie the Riveters in Huntington Wednesday. The artwork was made by the folks at Blenko glass and is designed by local students. Family members joined the 22 Rosies at Pullman Plaza Hotel for the special event honoring women who ...Read more