Blenko Glass – West Virginia Birthday Pieces


Designing and sampling the annual West Virginia Birthday Piece for Blenko Glass was a privilege and a
pleasure. The edition total for the design is equal to the state’s birthday, so for 2013 it was 150. I spent
many happy hours visiting with collectors who camped in the parking lot. Some started lining up three
days early. All the pieces were usually be sold by noon. Some came from as far away as the West Coast
and Texas. Blenko has been doing this since 1980, and to my knowledge, only 5 complete collections

Yet there were also challenges each year. “Any thoughts on what you’re going to design next year?”,
loyal folks at Saturday’s WV Celebration and Visitors Center opening would ask. Many followed quickly
with suggestions. Their questions get me thinking, and thinking led to ideas.
Even in the factory, and this I love, the people who made those limited editions were always interested in
what challenges next year’s design might bring. Not that they’re afraid of the challenges, quite the
reverse. They love to show what they are capable of.

I saw this special project as an opportunity to play with new techniques and push the skills of workers.
Sometimes we created WV Birthday pieces that would not be sensible for long-term production, other
times we discovered things we could apply to new line items. Most importantly, we made each Birthday
Piece different from its predecessors and every one expressed the skills and style that only Blenko Glass
can offer. – Arlon Bayliss