January 31, 2009

Blenko Closes?!

This is a shocker...

via the AGG bulletin board and huntingtonnews.net. -

Blenko Glass Calls it Quits

By Tony Rutherford, Huntingtonnews.net Reporter

Huntington, WV (HNN) - One of the only hand blown and stained glass manufacturers in the United States has closed. Blenko Glass, a Milton tourist attraction, told workers Friday afternoon, Jan. 30, 2009 that production had stopped.

The company has an on-going dispute with Big Two Mile natural gas company and the two parties have not been able to negotiate any compromises.

About 50 employees will lose their jobs.

say it ain't so.

more from the news services -
Charleston Gazette - Blenko Glass stops production, perhaps for good
Huntington Herald Gazette - Blenko Glass to shut down
Charleston Daily News - Historic Blenko Glass shuts down
WSAZ news - Blenko Glass Stopping Production
Herald-Dispatch's Heart of Glass, a Blenko Glass related blog

Looks like this has been brewing for years, with lots of legal shenanigans. As a stained glass enthusiast, I can only hope it resolves itself without losing the glassblowing facility for good.

More info on the legacy of Blenko Glass at The Blenko Project.

Full press release below the fold -

The full press release from January 30, 2009

Blenko Glass Company, Inc.
P.O. Box 67.
Milton, WV 25541.
January 30, 2009.
For Immediate Release
Blenko Glass Company announced today that it is shutting down production and is discussing with its counsel whether it should consider filing for bankruptcy. The Blenko Visitor’s Center will continue to remain open. The Milton based manufacturer of hand made glass was sued by Big Two Mile, its former gas supplier, four years ago because of a disagreement about the payments due for gas used at the factory. A court found in favor of Big Two Mile and entered a judgment against Blenko for more than $500,000 in September of 2005. Several proposals for settlement of the case were made by Blenko; none of the proposals was accepted. Over the past three years members of the Blenko Family were in contact with members of the Maier Family who are the owners of Big Two Mile. Blenko was led to understand that Big Two Mile would not take steps to shut down Blenko. Relying on those assurances Walter Blenko of Pittsburgh PA and Don Blenko of Wellesley MA invested more than 2 million dollars in Blenko in an effort to return the company to profitability. In recent months the company’s losses had been reduced and Blenko management was looking forward to seeing a positive cash flow in the company’s operations. On January 15, 2009, Big Two Mile took steps to seize “all amounts, deposits, and moneys” in the Blenko Glass bank accounts including its payroll and withholding accounts. Blenko first learned of Big Two Mile’s action on January 23, when Blenko’s bank reported that the bank accounts had been emptied. Blenko had issued a check on that day to pay for gas that it used in its glass making furnaces. When Blenko learned its funds had been seized it was able to recover the check which was already in the mail. Because of nonpayment Blenko’s gas supplier has refused to supply gas for the glass making process after January 31, 2009. Blenko has therefore shut down its furnaces and some of them will be destroyed due to the loss of heat. Blenko employs approximately 50 employees. Walter Blenko, President of Blenko Glass, said “I want to thank and pay tribute to the many loyal employees of Blenko Glass who worked diligently and faithfully against bad economic conditions to keep the company operating and producing world renowned Blenko Glass up until the last day.” For further information please contact: Walter Blenko, President, or Katie Trippe, Assistant Vice President, at (304) 743-9081.
Posted by Tom at 07:56 PM

January 28, 2009

The Art of Collaboration:
Stained-Glass Conservation in the Twenty-First Century

via the email group Stained Glass Forum -

Registration is now open for the Forum for the Conservation and Restoration of Stained-Glass Windows, which will take place in New York City from 1-3 June 2009. The Forum is being held under the auspices of the American Corpus Vitrearum and the International Committee of the Corpus Vitrearum for the Conservation of Stained Glass.

The three-day conference will consist of two full days of oral presentations and poster sessions at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the preeminent cultural institutions in the world. Evening receptions will be held at The Cloisters and in the newly renovated Engelhard Courtyard, which will allow participants to view some of the Museum's extensive holdings of European and American stained glass. The third day of the conference will be spent viewing stained glass in situ in Manhattan churches in the company of local experts. The day and the conference will end with a closing reception. The Forum will be preceded by a "Sunday at the Met" event – an afternoon of public keynote lectures devoted to general themes connected to the Forum.

The Forum is open to all interested stained glass professionals, including conservators, conservation scientists, architects, cultural heritage managers, art historians, students, etc. The venue is intended to provide an unprecedented opportunity for professionals from Europe and North America to meet and share their expertise and experience.

The theme of the Forum will be "The Art of Collaboration: Stained-Glass Conservation in the Twenty-First Century". Papers will be delivered in English, French and German with simultaneous translation. Texts of the oral presentations and summaries of the poster presentations will be published by Brepols Publishers in cooperation with the American Corpus Vitrearum.

Information about the conference, including a provisional list of presentations and the registration form is available at www.forum2009ny.org. Participation is limited to 150 on a first-come first-served basis, so early registration is encouraged.

My own 2 cents - Even though this is geared toward stained glass restoration professionals and scholars, and not toward the contemporary stained glass artist, any chance to be a part of a stained glass event that would feature 2 days at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, plus receptions at the Cloisters, The National Arts Club and a day tour of stained glass in New York must be of value to any stained glass artist. I suspect this will fill up fast.

Posted by Tom at 12:11 PM

January 27, 2009

Fremont Glass on YouTube

Fremont Glass Co. - out of Seattle WA (no website but I found some company info)

Good video footage of a smaller shop producing cylinder process sheet glass.

Another video where it's best to just turn the sound off. Great images, but no narration, no live sound, just cheesy music.

video via YouTuber Siuco

Fremont makes some beautiful glass, with rich vibrant colors. I haven't used it so much because I find it a little iffy if you need to refire it, making it limited for use in painting or fire polishing.

Fremont is one of only two shops in the USA making sheet glass by this method. The other is Blenko Glass Co., in West Virginia. Blenko is a bigger shop with slightly different methods. They do have a Making of Blenko video on their website, but it only shows the making of a bowl. Nothing on their flat glass making, but you do get the sense of how much bigger Blenko is and how the team works differently because if it.

Posted by Tom at 12:30 PM

January 25, 2009

Xpresscreen YouTube Channel

An update to last November's post on Thermal Screenprinting - Xpresscreen has started an Xpresscreen YouTube channel and posted their own video demo of the Xpresscreen XEF913 Exposure Unit. It runs a little over 5 minutes. I've added it into the original post as well.

'Xpresscreen' -

Posted by Tom at 05:08 PM

January 24, 2009

Uroboros Glass on YouTube

Another sheet glass manufacturer jumps on the YouTube bandwagon - Uroboros Glass now has a UroborosGlass YouTube channel.

Their first video is a 10 minute promotional video. Mostly photomontage with some fascinating, though all too brief, video clips of the sheet glass making process. Uroboros makes some of the best hand rolled sheet glass and you just see a tiny glimpse of how different that process is as compared to the machine rolled processes from Kokomo or Wissmach.

My advice - turn the sound off. There is no narration and some of the soundtrack is truly grating, at least to my ears. I'm just no big fan of cheesy techno music.

The World of Uroboros Glass -

Posted by Tom at 09:13 PM

January 23, 2009

Glashütte Lamberts YouTube Channel

Since I posted the Lamberts' Cylinder Glass Demo last November, Glashütte Lamberts started their own glashüttelamberts YouTube channel.

They have one video up showing their cylinder glass process. It's a shorter variant on the one I posted a month ago, this time without narration.

All of the other videos so far are short videos (30-40 seconds) showing a single sheet of glass moving around in a lit space, so you can see the texture and see the glass in reflected and transmitted light.

for example -
Tafel 25 | Überfangglas - that is, flashed glass.


Posted by Tom at 12:25 PM

January 21, 2009

Judith Schaechter in American Craft

Article in American Craft Magazine called Through the Looking Glass: Judith Schaechter’s marriage to her medium.

The article is both interesting and informative. Definitely check out the slideshow, and there is an audio interview at the bottom of the page that is definitely worth the 15 minutes or so of your time to listen to. From being on the panel with Judith at the American Glass Guild conference last year, I know that hearing Judith speak in her own words adds to the content of what she's saying. Not only does she do beautiful work, but she has a very unique and interesting take on the art of stained glass and on the world.

On a separate but related note, check out Judith's blog, Late Breaking Noose, as she's been doing a series of very interesting technical posts, like this Stained Glass Lesson and yet Another Stained Glass Lesson. Gotta get me one of those diamond files...

Posted by Tom at 06:57 PM

January 16, 2009

StainedGlass™ Collage

Curious - though it really is just photocollage with lines added, or not.

Note the trademark symbol after 'StainedGlass', as in StainedGlass™ - again, curious.

And even more curiouser when you see the whole thing is actually some kind of research project.

Okay, I guess it's no more curious than the fact that Harvard University holds a registered trademark on the word Orgy®.

[Currently groovin' to the 'Jazz Funk' Orgy® online]

Posted by Tom at 12:16 PM

January 14, 2009

Crown of Glass - Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral

Another find on YouTube - and it's the testament of another big commission.

Part 1 of 2 of a 15 minute film from 1967 called Crown of Glass, produced by Shell Film, about the making of the stained glass 'Crown' for Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, which is the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Liverpool, England. The stained glass was designed by John Piper and fabricated by Patrick Reyntiens.

A bit of a relic, as an example of 60's industrial documentary filmmaking, but here goes ...

To get a better sense of what it actually looks like, here is an image of the 'Crown' from one angle by flickrite 'stephen_dedalus' -

Part 2 of the video, many more flickr images and a curious recent occurence, with comments, after the fold ...

Crown of Glass - The Film

part 2 of 2 -

The film seems to be in rough shape. Shell Film made some pretty stylized documentaries, but I wouldn't be surprised if the curious yellow/orange glow throughout the film is due more to fugitive film stock from the 1960's, and for sure it looks like this print has gone through several rounds of copies. Nevertheless, it is a rare look at Piper and Reyntiens in their heyday, and all the process footage is invaluable for stained glass historians (not to mention future conservators).

Curiously, the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral website does not appear to mention Piper or Reyntiens, at least in it's Flashy Tour of the Cathedral. Though the tour does mention many other artistic works in the Cathedral, with full credit to the artists involved. It's rare for a church website to do this, and makes it all the more odd to leave out Piper and Reytiens.

In the Top Ten?

I should note that this building was recently named by the editors at virtualtourist.com as one of the top ten ugliest buildings in the world. Though the text acknowledges that the interior is perhaps not too bad -

The people who work here must be so sick of the space capsule jokes. Even those who find the building’s shell a little, well, “spacey,” have to admit the building’s circular interior is pretty spectacular.

Panoramic Interior Shot by 'ahisgett'

Even if some consider this an ugly building, there is no doubt it is a very much photographed building, according to Flickr.

This is from just a quick search, decide for yourself ...

The spaceship aspect from 'Geoff_B'

View from the Anglican Cathedral from 'Catherine_Sparks'

Daylight from Yoshef

Another daylight piece, this time from 'smohundro'

Exterior by 'romeo66'

here's the modern cathedral right out of an Orson Welles movie.

Exterior at night from 'rob the tog'

Interior shots - from the flickrsets -

A good Liverpool's Metropolitan Cathedral flickrset by tony stanley -

another flickrset called Liverpool Catholic Cathedral by 'jstevew' -

and a Liverpool flickrset with some closeup shots from tortipede -

In all, for me, this is more a case of "ugly is in the eye of the beholder". The more I see the images on flickr, the more I like this building.

For instance, I like the crazy entrance.

Relief sculpture at the entrance - via 'that_james'

As much as I tend to really not like stark poured concrete walls, it works here when mixed with the modernist art and the play of colors from the stained glass - via 'ian-S'

Longevity Question - Technical

Seeing that this is definitely a case of visionary architecture trumps practical construction, I wonder about the longevity of this building. Modernist buildings, generally, don't age well. Modernist architects were never good at thinking of the long view of things.

I've seen one reference to there being a problem with leaks. Frankly, looking at the film and knowing what I do know about the fabrication techniques, I'd be more surprised if the 'Crown' itself didn't leak. I'd be curious to hear the story of how well the building is holding up after 40+ years. I'll post updates if I hear anything.

And one other thought as a postscript, for those purely interested in the technical processes of stained glass- I've not ever heard of anyone else using fiberglass threads to 'reinforce' faceted glass/Dalle-de-Verre. Did this really help in giving the panels added strength? Have any other studios followed suit and used this procedure? I haven't heard of any other studios doing this and I find it a little hard to believe the fiberglass strings would add much structural support.
Other opinions welcome, of course.

Postscript - For general interest in the stained glass of Piper and Reytiens, there is a very good Flickr group devoted entirely to the work of Piper/Reytiens. Lots of great stuff here.

Posted by Tom at 07:08 AM

January 09, 2009

Richter Cologne Windows Up Close

Check out the newly posted images of the Gerhard Richter Cologne Window - up close!


From the always resourceful Aidan McRae Thomson Flickr Photostream.

Posted by Tom at 03:20 PM

January 07, 2009

Dome of Light

Dome of Light, Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corporation, in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Designed by Narcissus Quagliata and fabricated at Derix Studios, in Germany.

It's big.


There are more pictures of and videos about the commission at Quagliata's updated website.

I've also posted a few comments with some flickr photos and YouTube videos below the fold, mostly from the unveiling and dedication from March, 2008

Dome of Light on Flickr

The best photos by far came in a search for 'Dome of Light' in Hiroshiken's Flickr Photostream. Very nice shots.

Like most of Quagliata's recent work, it looks mostly abstract but has representational images organically mixed in, like these dancing figures.

Quagliata has also been incorporating commissioned hand blown pieces, like these large rondel-like pieces.

Closer in the same image, revealing some of the construction details.

You can also see some sense of the construction in this shot of the unlit dome.

Compared to more or less the same shot with the dome lit.

Dome of Light on YouTube

Surprisingly, there are quite a few different YouTube videos about the Dome of Light. Mostly of a crude and shaky quality, but a few are interesting enough to check out.

This looks to be the formal unveiling, which shows that the whole thing is artifically lit. That is one big light box.

This is my favorite, if only for the pure Chinese exuberance of it.

It's interesting that this commission has not generated much buzz here in the US. If it's been in any of the glass magazines or mentioned on forums etc, then I've missed it.

Posted by Tom at 12:20 PM

January 03, 2009

How It's Made - Opalescent Glass

More on opalescent glass and the machine rolled sheet glass process. Finally found a video, though it may not stay up long on YouTube. It's from a program called "How It's Made", produced in Canada, and being shown in the USA on the Discovery Channel. Enjoy it while you can...

Though it's not mentioned in the program, the glass is being made at Kokomo Opalescent Glass, out of Kokomo, Indiana. You can tell by comparing it to the pages from the Kokomo "Tour The Factory" pages.

On Flickr, I found a very nice Factory Tour flickrset by 'annamaren'. Also, this group of photos tagged 'Kokomo Opalescent Glass Factory' from 'emaho', including this great shot of the tableman in action.


Posted by Tom at 07:08 PM

January 02, 2009

Youghiogheny Glass Making

Check out the Youghiogheny Trips Flickrset by 'sunrising' showing the process of rolled glass sheet making at the Youghiogheny Glass Company.

There are 12 pictures in sequence showing the creation of one sheet of glass, with this screenshot representing number 7 in the sequence.

Posted by Tom at 06:54 AM