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

Former president of Blenko Glass dies at age 94
Huntington Herald Dispatch, February 9th

HUNTINGTON — Former president of Blenko Glass Company, William Henry Blenko Jr., died Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, at his residence. He was 94 years old. Blenko was the third generation to work at Blenko Glass Company. His grandfather, William J. Blenko, ...Read more

Brenda Lucas: Community news column for Saturday, Feb. 6
Huntington Herald Dispatch, February 5th

100th: Violet Shaver, member of Fifth Avenue Baptist Church, reaches yet another milestone today. She turns 100 years young and celebrates at home of Mike and Patti Shaver, son and daughter-in-law. Five generations will be present, and Sweet Adelines ...Read more

The Red Caboose to host Valentine's Day open house
Ironton Tribune, February 5th

“We have so many unique items, including some glass hearts we just got from Blenko Glass.” The Red Caboose Regional Artisan Center is owned and operated by the Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau. The shop, located in the Visitors ...Read more

North Huntingdon planners reject auto parts store, retail building along Route 30
Tribune-Review, February 1st

The plans that United Growth Capital Management LLC had submitted to North Huntingdon in July were incomplete, and several meetings were held with the PennDOT to discuss the project, but the developer had not presented a revised plan, Andrew Blenko ...Read more

Blenko Glass introduces limited edition pieces
Huntington Herald Dispatch, January 6th

The Emily Collection is inspired by the young daughter of Blenko family friend Allan Hathaway. Emily, just as her mother and grandmother before her, is beginning to build her own glass collection. In considering her young friend's interests and tastes...Read more

Glassmaker juggles time between his own studio, Blenko Glass
Charleston Gazette-Mail (subscription), December 19th

BUCKHANNON, W.Va. (AP) – Ron Hinkle pulls a blowpipe with a glowy orange glob at one end from a 2,100-degree Fahrenheit furnace in his glass studio. He rolls the orb in a dish of pale pink glass chips and then places the piece in a smaller, 2,400...Read more

Charleston Artist collaborates with Blenko for clean water project
Charleston Gazette-Mail (subscription), October 31st

Randy Rider holds a glass water droplet that he made. He allows the red hot end to bend just right before he starts the cooling process. The project is part of a collaboration between Blenko Glass and Charleston artist Barrie Kaufman. KENNY KEMP ...Read more

Blenko Glass to sell vases, in honor of W.Va.'s 152nd birthday
West Virginia MetroNews, June 19th

MILTON, W.Va. — The designer of Blenko Glass in Cabell County says when creating each year's West Virginia birthday vase, he likes to think about what life is like in the Mountain State. “I try to think about things that are symbolic of West Virginia...Read more