WVU celebrates West Virginia’s 154th birthday with latest gift from the Blenko family

West Virginia University's art collection will soon gain a new limited-edition piece, a gift made possible by Blenko Glass.

The company is continuing its tradition of providing WVU with the latest piece from the West Virginia Birthday Blenko Glass Collection. The donation has become an annual occurrence on June 20 – the state’s birthday. Started by the company in 1980, the West Virginia Birthday Blenko Glass Collection celebrates the state’s birthday with just the exact number of pieces as the state’s age made and sold each year.

This year, Blenko, located in Milton, has produced 154 original pieces to celebrate West Virginia’s 154th birthday.

This year’s piece, “Sun Over the Mountains,” is a vase inspired by the mountains and rolling hills of West Virginia and is the first designed by Blenko’s newest designer, Aaron Harvey. It has one companion piece, titled, “Moon Over the Forest.”

The vase is 13 and a half inches tall, with shades of cobalt, clover and crystal.

WVU houses one of fewer than 10 known complete sets of the West Virginia Birthday Blenko Glass Collection on display at Blaney House, home of the WVU president.

A majority of the birthday collection originally belonged to Hillary Homburg, a 2009 WVU School of Dentistry alumna and 2000 Foundation Scholar. She became a collector through her parents, who started collecting the birthday pieces in 1980. After being named a Foundation Scholar, Homburg realized the importance of giving and how doing so provides others a “freedom” to learn. She donated her set to the University in 2007.

Homburg felt the collection should be viewed by the public with the hope that it would encourage others to preserve and appreciate the works of the only remaining glass factory in the state.

“My birthday collection was the only thing of value I owned, and I felt it was time,” Homburg said of her decision to donate her collection. “Also, I felt more people might see the glass at WVU and become interested in the beloved Blenko Glass and the history of art in West Virginia.”

Now, Dr. Homburg serves as the director of dental services at Cabin Creek Clinics in Clendenin and is looking forward to opening a second clinic in August, which will serve the Sissonville area. She also serves as adjunct faculty for the WVU School of Dentistry’s rural and community health initiative.

Homburg’s involvement with Blenko Glass stems beyond the donation of her personal collection. As creator of The Blenko Project in 2000, Homburg has spent years advocating for the preservation and appreciation of West Virginia glassworks.

For more information on the Blenko Glass Factory, visit blenko.com, www.blenkoproject.org, or the blog “Heart of Glass,” at http://herald-dispatchblogs04.blogspot.com/.

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 private fundraising effort being conducted by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University runs through December.

June 19, 2017