The Herald-Dispatch |

Heart of Glass
Blenko Glass is a West Virginia treasure that spans generations. Nothing symbolizes the state of West Virginia better or more beautifully than Blenko Glass. We will discuss current and former craftsmen and designers and how important it is that Blenko and West Virginia glass be appreciated and valued by the younger generation.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Massive to Mini: 101 pieces of Blenko Glass - A VALENTINE'S DAY GET A WAY


Massive to Mini: 101 pieces of Blenko Glass

An exhibit of form, light and color

Weston, WV – Form, light and color rock the gallery at the Museum of American Glass in Weston, West Virginia with an incredible exhibition of 101 pieces of Milton West Virginia’s Blenko glass. This show, which continues until May 31, 2010, features objects well over three feet tall to some a mere 3 inches tall and is a romp of organic form, lovely light and bold color. On display is a wide variety including tableware, experimental prototypes and wildly unexpected face vases. The objects were made during the period 1930 to 2000 and all are labeled with about half including the name of a world acclaimed designer.

This family-owned company was founded by English-born William J. Blenko who made three failed attempts at glassmaking in this country before locating in Milton in 1921 to manufacture sheet glass for stained glass windows. When the Depression decimated this market, the company hired two expert glassblowers and began making tableware in 1930. The products were primarily functional and of classic design until 1947 when the company hired a full-time designer to distinguish the Blenko look. The resulting products were so successful that the company continued to have designers on staff until 1974. During this time, Blenko became the leader in modern American glass and even received a Good Designer Award from the Museum of Modern Art in 1950.

Even today, sheet glass for use in stained glass windows, where bold colors are needed, remains an important product. And these same bold colors are a signature characteristic of Blenko consumer products. Equally distinctive are the organic shapes that come from the natural gravity flow of hot liquid glass combined with the hand-formed methods used to shape an object.

The exhibition was curated by Dean Six, museum executive director, with glass from the museum’s collection augmented with loans from Dumpster Divers Antiques of Pennsboro, WV and from the private collections of Rock S. Wilson and Dean Six. Mr. Wilson also donated the glass from which the popular life-sized Blenko Man was made. It is part of the museum’s permanent collection.

In addition to the beautiful glass, there are graphic displays including a selection of enlarged catalog pages spanning decades and allowing visitors to see pieces not physically on display.

The Museum of American Glass in West Virginia is open daily Memorial Day through Labor Day noon to 4:00pm. The balance of the year the museum is open daily noon to 4:00pm and closed on Wednesday and Sunday. Admission is free. It is easily accessible off I-79 exit 99 onto US 33 West for two miles to Main Avenue. A left turn onto Main and the museum is on the left at 230 Main Avenue. Begun in 1992, the museum relocated to its present location in 2007 and occupies 12,000 square feet with over 7,000 pieces of glass on permanent display. The museum is home to the National Marble Museum and The American Flint Glass Workers Union Archives. The museum holds an annual marble festival and numerous special exhibits throughout the year. More information can be found at Questions about programs or the museum can be directed to 304-269-5006.