CONTACT: Bill Nevin, WVU Foundation
West Virginia’s birthday celebrated at WVU with latest gift from Blenko family
Blenko Glass Co. has continued its tradition of providing the West Virginia University art collection with the latest piece of limited edition glass from the West Virginia Birthday Blenko Glass Collection.
The gift to the University’s art collection has become an annual occurrence that takes place on the birthday of West Virginia – June 20 – and reflects that the family-owned business is one of those helping keep the culture and traditions of the Mountain State alive.
The West Virginia Birthday Blenko Glass Collection, which began in 1980, celebrates the state’s birthday by creating and selling the exact number of pieces as the state’s age.
This year, Blenko Glass, located in Milton, W.Va., has produced 149 original pieces to celebrate West Virginia’s 149th birthday. According to the Blenko Project web site, www.blenkoproject.org, WVU houses just one of the five known complete sets. Frequently, WVU’s rare collection is on display at the Blaney House, home of the WVU president.
This year’s birthday piece celebrates the drama of West Virginia valley landscapes. Moved by the power and beauty of Mountain State scenery, Blenko artist Arlon Bayliss has created a swirling vase form in turquoise, wrapped in zigzag yellow, brown and green lines.
WVU was given a majority of this collection through the generosity of Hillary Homburg, a former WVU dental student.
“My parents started to collect the glass before my birth, but from 1986 on, I stood in line each year to get the latest glass in the collection,” Homburg said. “After having an education provided to me by the University as a WVU Foundation Scholar, I wanted to give them something in return.”
In 2007, the alumna decided to donate her family’s personal collection to WVU.
Homburg felt the collection would be best represented by the University because of its own unique and rich history within the state. Since then, the Blenko family has donated the latest collectable in the series to the University’s art collection each year.
“Blenko Glass is such a special company because of its history,” said Homburg. “West Virginia used to have more than 150 glass companies. The glass industry has since dwindled to only a few companies that still create hand-made, antique glass.”
Homburg currently writes a daily blog about West Virginia glass and Blenko at http://herald-dispatchblogs04.blogspot.com
The latest Blenko Glass collectible was given to WVU’s art collection in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. The $750 million comprehensive campaign being conducted by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University runs through December 2015.
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