A porta potty has been in place all week.
And a caterer will arrive soon.
It’s good news for diehard Blenko Glass fans who’ve been waiting in line all week for Saturday’s West Virginia Day celebration.
That’s when they can purchase a special, handmade piece commemorating the state’s 154th birthday, “Sun Over The Mountains.”
It was inspired by the state’s “amazing sunrises over beautiful mountains,” said Dean Six, company vice president and general manager.
Cobalt blue glass is for the sky, while clover green glass is added for the trees.
A large, bright yellow stopper mimics the sun.
“The only way you can get it is to come here and that’s why people come here days early,,” he said.
Designer Aaron Harvey also included ingrained lines on the piece in honor of the state’s hills and mountains.
Each piece is numbered and signed by Harvey and Walter Blenko Jr., company president and grandson of the company’s founder.
There are no advance or phone orders for this limited edition piece which goes on sale when the visitor center doors open at 8 a.m.
It’s strictly first come, first serve basis, and only one to a customer.
Loyal customers know the drill, and many literally camp out at the Milton factory for days before the sale begins, he said with a chuckle.
A lot know one another, and there is a sense of community since folks often share meals and socialize. But some specific rules apply too.
“You have to be here over night. You can’t just park your car and go home. If you have to work, you are allowed to leave a place marker but you have to come back right afterward,” he said.
“It’s kind of like a little campground. I make my rounds everyday, and probably know half of them by name. I’ll bet we are the only glass plant that has a porta potty in its budget.”
“They know that we use the state’s age to determine how many will be created and the price which goes up $1 each year so there is a very limited supply available,” he said
Consequently a total of 154 pieces will be for sale this year, and will cost $154 each.
A companion piece is also offered annually,and reflects the same theme. This year’s is “Moon Over The Forest” which features a cobalt blue base with a tree embossed into the glass and it is finished with a white-powdered stopper to represent the moon.
Each decanter will be $79 and will be etched with West Virginia Day and Blenko 2017 on the bottom.
It will go on sale at tonight’s after hours event from 7-9 p.m., while online orders will be available beginning Saturday.
Blenko Glass has been a family owned and operated business since 1893. It still offers a wide range of products including functional glassware, art glass, sheet glass and Dalle De Verre slab glass.
Since the early days, Blenko has been widely known for its colored flat glass used in church, cathedral and architectural windows.
“There’s a great window in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., that’s all made out of Blenko glass. And there’s a lot of it in the other windows there too,” he said.
“The colored bands of glass that are in the ceiling of the Air Force Academy chapel are also Blenko.”
The company came to Cabell County in 1921.
This West Virginia Day tradition, which started in 1980 with a Charleston department story, is more popular than ever with the public.
Last year a trout was featured, another time dark gray glass in a more abstract form was used to honor miners who died in state coal mines.
Six, who has written several books on the state glass industry and its history, said it is an “extreme honor” to be part of this celebration.
“For me to be here and part of this story, however small my part might be, is like a big gift. That’s especially true when it comes to working with the people here who represent this decades old artisan craft so expertly. Just being here is a privilege,” he said.
Glass making got underway in the state in 1813 when the first glass plant was located in present day Wellsburg. At that time it was Charlestown, Virginia.
“This was once a big, big industry in the state but now is almost gone. You are talking about 473 glass plants since then, and there are just four left today. We’re the biggest, and about the only company that still makes a direct consumer product,” he said.