MILTON – You can’t talk about material culture in America without talking about glass, and when you speak of surviving handmade American glass, you must speak of Blenko Glass in Milton, according to Dean Six, vice president of marketing for the iconic glass manufacturing company.
Six said Blenko Glass began celebrating its 125th anniversary on Sunday, July 1.
“Magnificent color, skilled craftsmanship and creative design make Blenko Glass Co. the most colorful name in glass,” Six said. “We are very excited to begin our 125th anniversary celebration that will continue throughout the entire year.”
As part of the celebration, Blenko will be enhancing the experience of a visit to the factory as both a travel destination and an important stop for art glass collectors and history lovers, Six said.
The current viewing area for self-guided tours will be enhanced and expanded.
“A part of this celebration is to utilize online crowdfunding to reward patrons of the anniversary with special hands-on experiences, gifts of limited edition glass, and other opportunities to enjoy glass and the glassmaking experience,” Six said. “Working with glass lovers, history students and West Virginia enthusiasts, Blenko will take their already highly rated tour and museum to a new and much more engaging level.”
The celebration of 125 years of history is also being celebrated by an expansion and complete revisioning of the Blenko Glass Museum.
“The newly energized space will embrace current technology to tell the history of family, art and craftsmen,” Six said.
Blenko will create a new “factory floor” exhibition and teaching space for hot glass classes and workshops, Six added.
Blenko Glass first opened in Kokomo, Indiana, in 1893 and later relocated to Milton in the summer of 1921. The company began as a sheet glass manufacturer that became a maker of functional tableware and art glass.
“Blenko has a rich history of community involvement with the area and the state and prides itself on its significant West Virginia heritage,” Six said.
Six said Blenko bridges a space between industry and art by crafting functional, handmade art.
“Handcrafted glass is a pleasant reminder of a way of life that is all but gone,” he said. “Through advancements in technology and automation, the techniques and skill sets at Blenko have stayed the same decade after decade. The same tools, practices and skills are utilized today that were in use in 1893.”
Learn more about Blenko Glass at www.blenko.com.