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 donation 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 150 original pieces to celebrate West Virginia’s 150th 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.
Made of turquoise and crystal glass, this year’s birthday piece is called “Birthday Hearts for West Virginia”.
“We wanted this piece to be extra special,” said designer Arlon Bayliss. “As I thought about the theme for this important Blenko Birthday piece, my mind kept returning to how West Virginians hold each other in their hearts, to their generosity, hard work and love.”
Bayliss said the 11-inch tall, ballooning vase expands with billowing hearts from a narrow base to broad rounded shoulders, and a generous flared rim, to represent “a Mountaineer’s freedom.”
WVU was given a majority of this collection through the generosity of 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.
“At the time, my Blenko West Virginia Birthday vases were my most valuable asset,” said Homburg. “I wanted to give something back to the University, and also it would allow the vases to be seen by the many visitors 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.
Homburg writes in a daily blog for The (Huntington) Herald-Dispatch called “Heart of Glass,” http://herald-dispatchblogs04.blogspot.com/, where she talks about West Virginia glass.
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.
CONTACT: Bill Nevin, WVU Foundation
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