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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Little help coming from Norwin municipalities with pothole damageTribune-Review, March 5th
“If somebody calls in saying that their car has been damaged because they hit a pothole on one of our roads, I tell them to turn it into their insurance company,” said Mary Blenko, Irwin's manager. “Then we ask them where it's located so we can send ...Read more
Road salt woes put Irwin in conservation modeTribune-Review, March 5th
Under the state purchasing contract the borough uses to buy salt, it must take 60 percent of the amount it orders, but can buy up to an additional 40 percent of its total allotment, said manager Mary Blenko. “We're planning to up our requested...Read more
B'nai Sholom Congregation will have Historic Preservation Reverse RaffleHuntington Herald Dispatch, March 3rd
The sanctuary, featuring the rose window facing 10th Avenue, is adorned by stained glass windows of jewel-tone Blenko glass. In October 1978, Ohev Sholom Temple and B'nai Israel Synagogue, whose house of worship was located on the southeast corner ...Read more
Tourism promoters visit stateHuntington Herald Dispatch, March 1st
from around the country to pitch them Huntington area attractions such as Heritage Farm Museum and Village, Blenko Glass, "We Are Marshall" tours, the New River Train and such well-known restaurants as Hillbilly Hotdogs and Jim's Steak and Spaghetti...Read more
WV Design Team: Good goes with goodCharleston Gazette, March 1st
A contemporary Danish-designed sofa and mid-century modern coffee table atop a colorful new area rug mix wonderfully with a broad range of accessories including vintage Blenko glass, a 14th-century Cambodian temple bust along with paintings and ...Read more
Eyewitness NewsWCHS-TV8, February 22nd
“It's for group tours, so we're pushing our group tour activities like Blenko, Heritage Farm and the Museum of Art,” Tyson Compton, of Huntington CVB, said. “Train trips in October - all these great things people can have a great time experiencing...Read more
North Huntingdon 'villa-style' housing plan could get final OKTribune-Review, February 19th
Andrew Blenko, the township's planning director, said previous site plans for the homes being proposed for Willow Estates, which will grow to 188 homes if the final phase is approved and completed, need to be resubmitted to more accurately reflect the ...Read more