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Classes, signed pieces highlight Blenko event

Mar. 16, 2013 @ 10:41 PM

MILTON -- Charlene Strickland was like a kid in a candy store.

Enjoying her second visit to Blenko Glass in Milton, Strickland waited in line not once, but twice, to have a new piece for her collection signed by Walter Blenko himself.

"It's such an honor for me to be here, and to have it signed is so special. It makes me feel like a part of this whole thing," said Strickland of Teays Valley, gesturing around the Blenko Visitor Center showroom.

Strickland, an avid collector, said she picks up Blenko pieces in auctions and yard sales and has pieces throughout her house. During Blenko's annual open house on Saturday, she picked up a limited edition spring iris vase, a green-and-amber bowl and a third piece in a deep purple hue.

"I can't tell you a favorite piece I have because they're all beautiful," she said. "They're special, every one."

Strickland said she has a few glass pieces from another company, but keeps coming back to Blenko products.

"Blenko is what I love," she said. "It's West Virginia."

Saturday's event included a signing by Walter Blenko -- the president of the company and grandson of the company's founder -- and a warehouse sale and various glass working classes.

Marjorie Fulknier of Nitro thought she was looking for a simple factory tour when she logged on the company's website, but quickly learned she could try her hand at making her own, one-of-a-kind glass Easter egg. Other classes on Saturday crafted a mini water bottle, stained glass panel or mosaic keychain or suncatcher.

"I saw the class offering and immediately wanted to do it," said Fulknier, who has four or five Blenko pieces in her collection. "What an outreach to the community to allow us to do something hands-on. It's so cool."

Fulknier said she saw Blenko glass artists crafting pumpkins in a similar tour she had previously taken.

"It's just great to look at this today, knowing Blenko was on the verge of shutting its doors, and were brought out of it somehow," she said. "It's fantastic."

Follow H-D reporter Beth Hendricks on Facebook or Twitter @BethHendricksHD.

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