Here at My Apricot Hill, we are always looking for items that inspire our creative spirit. Family owned and operated since 1893, Blenko Glass is located in the small town of Milton, West Virginia, where their skilled craftsmen use their creative spirit to produce some of the world’s finest hand-blown glass objet. As the last factory in the United States that produces mouth-blown, hand-pressed glass products, Blenko continues the tradition by creating functional glassware, art glass, mouth-blown sheet glass, dalle de verre as well as several other products.
Since inception, Blenko’s classic, functional table ware sold quite well at high-end department stores, but the hire of full-time design director Winslow Anderson, ushered in a new era of success. Blenko’s Historic Period lasted from 1947 until 1974, under the direction of the first four design directors, known as The Blenko Four. During this time Blenko Glass made their mark in American glass and design history as true pioneers of the Studio Glass Movement and the concept of “architectural scale” design. The Blenko Four worked with full and unlimited design freedom winning the Museum of Modern Art’s Good Design Award for several pieces.
Blenko Glass received commissions to produce glass for several prominent establishments. During the early years Blenko Glass was used to create the stained glass windows of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. They were commissioned to craft the solid glass trophies used for the Country Music Awards until the 1980s. The White House also commissioned Blenko Glass on several occasions, once for a collection of table ware that is still used occasionally today. Another notable commission came from The White House in 1994 during the Clinton Administration to replace several of the original window panes that were shattered when a gunman from Colorado opened fire on the building.
In 1980 Blenko decided to create a special piece to celebrate the anniversary of West Virginia becoming a state. The number of pieces crafted each year also corresponds with the number of years since West Virginia was incorporated into the Union, in 1863. For example, this year 149 years after statehood, 149 West Virginia pieces were produced. Signed and numbered, from pitchers to bowls these pieces are a must have for the Blenko collector.
This year Blenko Glass held its fifth annual Festival of Glass, which included tours of the factory as well as several glass making workshops. Well attended by collectors and those with a keen interest in the art of glass making, the workshops included glass-blowing demonstrations as well as a hands-on class where participants were invited to create four pieces themselves under the supervision of trained craftsmen.
While the intricate designs of Blenko’s dalle de verre are amazing and definitely not to be missed while on a tour of their studio, we love the more functional pieces they create. The cobalt small dimple glasses are the perfect addition to your home glassware collection. Unique and vibrant in color, these glasses are perfect for afternoon cocktails or lemonade on the porch.
Blenko Glass is a family-owned and operated American institution that has been in business for more than a century. If you find yourself in the small town of Milton, West Virginia, be sure to stop by Blenko, take a tour of the facility, watch a live glass blowing demonstration and begin a collection of your own by purchasing a piece or two from their shop. Be sure to call ahead and check the schedule, as extreme heat in summer has affected demonstration times.
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