So what is it about glass that makes it collectible? Is it the challenge to see how long we can keep it without breaking it? If you have kids like me, that is truly a challenge! Well, even though I usually buy and sell glass, among other things, sometimes I just have to hold onto certain pieces. Some of those pieces were made by Blenko. The real desirable pieces were made in the 1960's and 70's. I suppose one of the reasons I tend to like their glass is because they are just a few miles down the road from me. I have been through their factory, watched the glass blowers puff their cheeks, and walked through the kaleidoscope of discarded glass piles.
Even though I'm sure I am biased, Blenko glass has a very distinctive mid-century modern look. It is definitely an artwork. And sadly, a dying art. The factory has recently come out of bankruptcy, but they are likely to go the way of many other glass houses. Yet their vases, pitchers, whimsies, and decanters continue to find life on the shelves of many collectors. The bright colors are very distinctive and the characteristics can easily be learned.
Blenko glass is hand blown and it takes a team of workers to make one piece. Typically, you will see a pontil scar on the bottom where the metal blow pipe was connected to the molten glass. In this case, the scar is a good thing! Not like the scar I got that one time...well...anyway. Blenko glass has a fire polished rim. This means that it is rounded and not perfect. One key to decanters is to look at the stopper. The inside of the decanter mouth is ground. The outside of the stopper is also ground. Some decanters may look like Blenko, but always check the stopper. After you look at several pieces of Blenko glass, you will oftentimes be able to see a piece across the room at an antique store and know it is Blenko. The color is that destinctive. I've shown enough pieces to my seven year old that when I bring home a piece, he immediately knows it is Blenko just by the color and the shape. The shapes are quite flowing and curvaceous.
As with just about anything worth collecting, there are copies out there. I hesitate to call them fakes since they are made by other quality art glass shops. Not all pieces have copies, but it is something to be keep in mind.
I'm sure I will come across other great pieces, especially considering where I live. I just hope the kids don't decide to play home run derby next to the display cabinet.