Blenko Glass is continuing 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 donation to the University’s art collection has become an annual occurrence on June 20—the birthday of West Virginia, 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 153 original pieces to celebrate West Virginia’s 153rd birthday. WVU houses one of less than ten known complete sets. WVU’s rare collection is on display at the Blaney House, home of the WVU president.
This year’s Blenko West Virginia Birthday Piece, “Patience’s Prize” is a tall, fish-shaped, flattened vase with a flared tail opening in spring green cased with jonquil. A dynamic curve in its body suggests a leaping fish. It includes two companion pieces.
Designer Arlon Bayliss said, “Fishing really is something I always talk to the glassmakers at Blenko about. I think it’s something that people share stories about because it connects them. At the same time, fish tales help to remind us about those special wild places we return to for renewal.”
WVU was given a majority of its collection through the generosity of Dr. Hillary Homburg, a former WVU dental student and 2002 WVU Foundation Scholar.
In 2007, the alumna decided to donate her family’s personal collection of vases from 1980 to 2007 to WVU.
“My parents started to collect the glass before me, but from 1986 on I stood in line each year to get the latest glass in the collection,” Homburg said. “After having a free education provided to me by the University as a WVU Foundation Scholar, I wanted give them something in return.”
She also felt the collection should be viewed by the public, with hopes that it would encourage others to preserve and appreciate the glass works of the only remaining glass factory in the state.
Homburg’s involvement with Blenko Glass stems beyond the donation of her personal collection. As founder of The Blenko Project in 2000, Homburg has spent years advocating for the preservation and appreciation of West Virginia glassworks.
Dr. Homburg currently serves as adjunct faculty for the WVU School of Dentistry’s rural and community health initiative, and as the dentist at Cabin Creek Health Systems, a rural community health center in Kanawha County.
Homburg also continues to maintain The Blenko Project website at http://www.blenkoproject.org and blog about the timeless treasures of Blenko and West Virginia Glass for the Herald Dispatch newspaper at http://herald-dispatchblogs04.blogspot.com/
For more information on the Blenko Glass Factory, visit blenko.com or blenkoproject.org
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 $1 billion comprehensive campaign being conducted by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University runs through December 2017.
CONTACT: Bill Nevin, WVU Foundation
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