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Blenko glass owls epitomize mid century modern decorative manufacture and style

Blenko owl bookends were produced from 1968-1974 in a variety of colors.
Blenko owl bookends were produced from 1968-1974 in a variety of colors.
Pamela Sweet

Every era has its motifs. During Colonial times, North Americans were fascinated with the pineapple and the palm tree, elements which adorned buildings and graced buffet tables in the finest homes. Art Nouveau design emphasized the gracious curves of nature, and thus we have vining tendrils as well as dragonflies on our Tiffany lamps.

The classic Mid Century Modern motifs are, of course, atomic. The starburst is prevalent. But there is also interest in the primitive and the geometric, and a rejection of busy floral patterns considered more suitable to the Victorian era.

As the United States approached the 1970s, owls and mushrooms came into fashion (along with the decorator colors avocado and harvest gold). Strictly speaking, this era was past Mid-century Modern's prime, yet there is no reason not to mix and match a variety of "modernish" themes and styles together in one's home as a nod to both nostalgia and what is still a fresh and forward-looking outlook on contemporary life.

Interior decorating calls out for a variety of texture and materials, including pottery and glass. Decorating with vintage Ohio Valley art glass manufactured from the 1940s to the 1970s shows not only an appreciation of locally-made wares but also a great eye for current trends in the eco-friendly recycling of antiques and collectibles.

Blenko Glass was manufactured in West Virginia beginning in 1893, and is still in operation today. This company produced an astonishing array of styles in colors during the Mid-century Modern period, as can be seen in the Blenko Glass Collectors Colors page.

The Blenko owl is an iconic product created of richly colored thick, heavy glass. Blenko items were sometimes marked with only a paper label. It is not unusual for the label to have worn off, so time spent studying the Blenko Glass Collectors site and looking at current internet auctions on sites including eBay will familiarize you with the styles and forms of Blenko production ware.

Cincinnatians will encounter Blenko items at antique stores and yard sales, and can purchase such items on the web. Other important manufacturers of Ohio Valley glass include Kanawha, Bischoff and Erickson, Fenton, and Pilgrim. Enjoy the beauty of retro glass on your own shelf or


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