Jan 18, 2011

Blenko Glass Love

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first in a series of articles by guest writers, which we plan to run more or less weekly on various topics of interest to vintage lovers. Thanks to Jennifer of jenzee09 for sharing her love of Blenko Glass.

It all happened about 5 years ago. I was looking online at random pieces of Art Glass, when I stumbled on a piece of glass called Blenko. This was by far one of the most beautiful pieces of hand-blown glass I had ever seen. After further online investigation, I was in love! I had no idea all this beautiful glass was being manufactured right here in the good ol’ USA for more than 100 years.

Winslow 920-L from jenzee09
William J. Blenko founded the Blenko Glass Company in 1893. Originally located in Kokomo, Indiana, Blenko manufactured mouth blown (antique) sheet glass for stained glass windows. In the late 1930s Blenko began producing tableware. The Depression had ruined the stained glass market, forcing Blenko to expand and broaden its horizons.

In 1947 Blenko hired its first design director, Winslow Anderson. Mr. Anderson was given full creative freedom. His ideas changed Blenko Glass forever. New, creative, and unique pieces were manufactured. Vases and decanters were designed with sleek style and beautiful curves. Newer, brighter, bolder colors were used.

Blenko 6138
Through the years Blenko continued to work with design directors, most notably Winslow Anderson, Wayne Husted, Joel Philip Myers, and John Nickerson. These brilliant artists evolved Blenko’s designs even further, including designing monumental architectural scale pieces, standing 3 feet tall! 

Blenko glass has been a growing collectible since the 1960s and is easily distinguished by its shapes and colors (for reference, follow this link).
Blenko has used foil labels over the years, except for a short time, from 1958 to 1961, when a sandblasted mark reading BLENKO was used. The best way to identify authentic pieces is by referencing one of the catalogs produced by the company. Catalogs have been reproduced in hardcover books by Leslie Pina and are available online and in many local libraries.

Blenko #6527 from mascarajones

1977 Blue Top Mountain Line, from Modnique
Once I began to familiarize myself with the Blenko designs, I realized that Blenko Glass is everywhere. I’ve even spotted pieces on sets of old and new television shows!
Throughout the years, the company has remained in the family and has been passed down from father to son to grandson. Today, Blenko is still designing and selling beautiful tableware and art glass. They are located in Milton, WV, where they have been since 1921. They offer factory tours, a visitor’s center, and a gift shop filled with their newest pieces.

As for me, I now own nearly 40 pieces of Blenko in all shapes, sizes and colors. It sure is a lot of dusting, but boy does my apartment look pretty!


TheFancyLamb said...

Wow, Blenko is so beautiful! I wasn't familiar with it before reading this, but I'll be sure to keep an eye out for it from now on!
Great article!

Suzanne@threepeats said...

I've seen this glassware so many times and didn't know anything about it. This article was like being on Antiques Roadshow...fun and informative!

Nachokitty said...

Great post! Well written and informative. Thank you for all this great info!

RainbowVintage said...

Great article. And thanks especially for that reference link - that will be going in my research bookmarks!