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Blenko Glass creates a vase for the state's celebration

May. 06, 2013 @ 03:21 PM

MILTON -- Blenko Glass has begun production of its West Virginia 150th birthday piece, titled "Birthday Hearts for West Virginia." The company has put extra effort into making a special work to mark the 150th birthday of West Virginia.

"As I thought about a 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," said designer Arlon Bayliss, who has designed a number of birthday pieces for Blenko. "The priceless skills of our mold-makers and blowers have led to a remarkable commemorative piece that not only celebrates love, but is made with love, too."

The piece is made of light blue and crystal glass to represent a mountaineer's freedom, he said. This 11-inch tall, ballooning vase expands with billowing hearts from a narrow base to broad rounded shoulders, and a generous flared rim.

Blenko has been operating for 120 of West Virginia's 150 years.

"We feel like being a long-standing company in West Virginia, we needed to be a part of celebrating the 150th birthday of the state," Blenko Vice President Katie Trippe said. "The community and the people of West Virginia have always been so supportive of our company that we wanted to express the love we have for the people around us. (The hearts represent) how we feel about the community and the people of state of West Virginia."

The 150 limited-edition vases go on sale at 8 a.m. Saturday, June 22, and in line with tradition, will be available one per person. The price is $160.

Two additional pieces were designed as well this year -- "Extra Hearts for West Virginia." These limited-edition vases in cobalt blue and topaz have hearts stamped on two sides. One heart looks to the past, the other looks to the future. There will be 150 of each of those as well. The small one is $37 while the larger one costs $39.

Festivities at Blenko for West Virginia's 150th birthday begin Friday, June 21.

Happy After Hours at Blenko goes on from 7 to 9 p.m. June 21. The two "Extra Hearts" pieces will be on sale during this after-hours event. Each piece will have a special etch on the bottom and only be available while supplies last.

Refreshments will be served, and there will be a signing event with President Walter Blenko and Bayliss, the designer.

Friday festivities are just to join in the fun of Blenko's faithful customers who never fail to get in line early, Trippe said.

"Generally, they come Friday evening," she said. "They're camping out and having fun, and we wanted to be a part of it as well -- to be there for them."

Saturday, June 22, will feature special Visitor Center Hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Everyone visiting on this day will receive a free commemorative medallion while supplies last.

Another signing event with Walter Blenko will be offered, as well as West Virginia birthday cake and refreshments.