Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Blenko!

Finally, after years of intending to get there, we made the trip to the Blenko glass plant in Milton, West Virginia. I can't figure out why I waited so long, since Milton is only about 70 miles away, and we've passed this place many times traveling to and from Huntington and other points west. But I decided that I was going to get there this month, and just barely made it.



Glass was in view right from the time we pulled up to the Visitor Center. Glass even lined the flowerbeds!



And my goodness was it worth the trip. If you are a lover of bright, colorful glass in clean shapes, then Blenko is the place to go. I love glass of just about any kind: my house is filled with glass dating from the 1860's right up to the new pieces I brought home today.

Inside the colors were almost overwhelming in their brightness and variety. I was like a kid in a candy shop, moving from table to table and admiring the craftsmanship and creativity of the makers of the extraordinary pieces in front of me.


Upstairs housed a small museum--a series of display cases featuring a timeline of Blenko history and glass.



Somehow I did not realize that Blenko also made stained glass windows; there were several stunners on display in the museum gallery.


We walked out the catwalk to the glassmaking plant where we could watch the men at work (we heard from the clerk in the store that a young woman is joining the glassmakers but did not see her there today). A full-sized weeping willow hung its gorgeous greenery alongside the walkway.


 We arrived during their afternoon break but that gave us time to read the plaques that explained the glass-making process. I should say we did not actually see the glass itself being made--what we saw were the artisans who form the molten glass into everything from Christmas ornaments to lamps. I wonder where the glass itself comes from? I didn't think to ask, but I believe it is made there at the plant in another area that did not allow visitors.


It's easy to see why visitors are kept to one specific area; there are blasting hot furnaces and men carrying molten hot glass everywhere. I was entranced by the process we saw and could honestly have stayed for hours just waiting to see what they might make next.



Lots more photos to come! In my next post I'll try to organize my pictures into the order in which a piece was made, so stay tuned.


Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

3 comments:

Mac n' Janet said...

Love glass, what a wonderful display.

Char5 said...

One of my very favorite places to visit, Sue! So glad you made the trip and had a great time there.

storytellermary said...

Fascinating! We toured one (Fenton?) on our Delta Queen cruise . . . amazing, talented artists. I asked if there were women working on the production; the woman in the shop said no and added, "none of us want to; it's hot and dirty." I'm glad they have opened the ranks to women, though I had to agree that it was harder work than I could manage.

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