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Blenko History
Early Years Historic Period Post-Historic Period Official Designers
   
     
Background: Pre-1921 William J Blenko
William J. Blenko, founder

William H Blenko Sr
William H. Blenko Sr., C. 1958

William H Blenko Jr
William H. Blenko Jr.

Richard Blenko
Richard Blenko, C. 2000

Blenko Glass Company brochure from the 1950's
a circa 1950's Blenko brochure; click to see text on other side.

Vintage Blenko Glass
L to R:
Anderson 949 Sea Green, Shepherd 8120L Sapphire,
Myers 669 Turquoise,
Husted 5929S Jonquil,
Anderson 971S Gold,
Myers 6733 Plum,
Husted 6046 Lilac

The founder of the Blenko Glass Company, William J. Blenko, was born in 1854 in London, England. By the age of 13 he was working in a  London glass factory, where he learned glassblowing. In 1893 he immigrated to the United States to Kokomo, Indiana to start the first US glasshouse to supply America with domestically produced mouth blown colored ("Antique") sheet glass. By 1903 the company failed due largely to unfavorable economic conditions, and he moved back to England. Twice more, 1909 and 1911, he opened a sheet glass business in the US, each time for various reason failing.

Early Years, Pre-Designer: 1921-1946

This period encompasses the company's founding and formative years, prior to the hiring of a Design Director. In 1921, according to Milton town records, William J. Blenko established the Eureka Art Glass Company, in Milton WV with no employees or laborers. In 1923, William's 26 year old youngest son, William H. Blenko Sr., along with his wife Marion and two-year-old son William Jr. joined the company.

By 1927 the company was doing well thanks to a high quality product and Bill's sales expertise. However, the 1929 Depression destroyed the market for stained glass, so in 1930 they introduced a tableware line to expand their market and survive the Depression. In August of 1930 the company officially changed its name to the Blenko Glass Company.

During this period designs are largely basic, classical forms and adaptations thereof. No designs are definitively attributable to any particular person. The only noteworthy exception is the work of Carl Erickson, the foreman from 1937-42, to whom several designs may be tentatively attributed including the "Heavy Swedish Type." All other forms were, for the most part, generated by a combination of the company's sales representatives, management and the senior finishers.

Historic Period: 1947- 1974
This period is defined by Blenko's emergence as an important figure in American glass and design history. The cultural significance of this period is intimately connected with the emerging Studio Glass Movement and America 's dynamic cultural expansion at the time.

The hiring of the company's first Design Director, Winslow Anderson, in 1947 was a noteworthy event; at the time it was extremely forward thinking to employ a full time in-house designer. Of equal importance, Blenko made a clear decision to allow designers full and unlimited creative freedom.

The Historic Period includes the work of the company's first four Design Directors; Winslow Anderson, Wayne Husted, Joel Philip Myers and John Nickerson. Where Husted pioneered a Studio Glass aesthetic before the movement even began, Myers carried the torch as a significant and active founding member of the movement, while Nickerson was the first Design Director hired by Blenko with pre-existing knowledge of the Studio Glass movement.

The period concluded as the company's efforts were eclipsed by the Studio Glass Movement and further hampered by the death of William H. Blenko Sr., the guiding force of the company.

Post-Historic Period: 1975-Present

The work of this period, covering three different designers, is defined by a more production-oriented output and, with few exceptions, lacking the experimental possibilities and innovation of the earlier period. The most noteworthy work in this period was that of Hank Adams, an acclaimed Studio Glass artist. In a much reduced capacity, the Blenko Glass Company is still making stained glass, architectural glass and decorative wares today though they operate without a Design Director since 2002.

Historic Period Designers: 1947-1974

for details and images click on a designer's name:

Winslow Anderson
Design Director 1947-53
Click for Anderson Image Gallery

Wayne Husted
Design Director 1953-63
Click for Husted Image Gallery

Joel Philip Myers
Design Director 1963-70
Click for Myers Image Gallery

John Nickerson
Design Director 1970-74
Click for Nickerson Image Gallery

Post-Historic Period Designers: 1975-2002

Don Shepherd
Design Director 1974-89

Hank Adams
Design Director 1989-95

Matt Carter
Design Director 1995-2002

Click for Post-Historic Period Image Gallery

   
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