In celebration of the Mountain States 145th birthday Friday (June 20), the Blenko family is donating the newest addition of the West Virginia Birthday Blenko Glass Collection to West Virginia Universitys art collection. The latest collectible will become part of the complete 28-piece birthday collection given to the University last year by student and former WVU Foundation scholar Hillary Homburg.
The Blenko Glass birthday pieces began in 1980, and since her birth, Homburg, a fourth-year dental student and Charleston native, and her father have been in line waiting for their Blenko collectible every year on West Virginias birthday. The collection is one of only five known complete collections.
My dad bought the West Virginia birthday collection for me before I was born, and in 1985, I was in person in lineand every year thereafter,she said.These art glass pieces represent a variety of Blenko designers who were major figures in the American glass scene and decades of design and color.
The idea to give my collection to WVU came to me while I was a student assistant helping in new student orientation,Homburg added.I realized that thousands of people visit campus each summer and each year. If Blenko glass were displayed, perhaps those people would develop an interest and want to visit the factory or buy some glass and take it home as a souvenir of their trip to West Virginia.
When Homburg decided to donate her collection to WVU , the Blenko family agreed to make a gift each year of the companys annual birthday collectible to keep the collection in tact.
According to the Blenko Glass Web site, the latest West Virginia birthday piece is inspired by both the calm of evening and the promise of a new day, evident in its complementary, dreamcicle orange and dark cobalt blue ribbon design with graceful wings. Designed by Arlon Bayliss, the 12-inch high, 8-and-a-half-inch wide piece suggests mountains at dawn as sunlight streams joyfully through early morning clouds or an evening when dusky hills ripple through shafts of sunlight and ribbons of mist.
The collectible series is the longest running, annually signed and numbered item that Blenko produces. The limited 145 pieces are available on West Virginias birthday (June 20) at the Blenko Glass Visitors Center in Milton. The highly sought after birthday pieces are sold out within three hours of the store opening each year.
The latest Blenko Glass collectible was given to WVU s art collection through the WVU Foundation, a private nonprofit corporation that generates, receives and administers private gifts for the benefit of WVU .
The WVU collections current home is in Blaney House, home of the WVU president.