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Back in the 1950s, when he was fresh out of college, Wayne Husted was hired as Director of Design at the venerable Blenko Glass Company in Milton, West Virginia. During his ten years at Blenko, he created over 60 new designs every year, resulting in over 600 unique designs, many of which are included in museum collections and sought after by private collectors nationwide. Think of mid-century modern glass design, and you picture Wayne’s distinctly sculptural, often nonfunctional “architectural scale” designs.

 

Now, at the age of 88, Wayne is still designing in glass, working with glass studios nationwide, developing new techniques that push the properties and capabilities of hand-blown glass in the creation of big and colorful art glass. He is currently working with Effetto Glassworks, Slow Burn Glass, and Public Glass in the San Francisco Bay Area on the new Jazz in Glass Collectors Series of designs that recall his work of the 1950s, as well as other new art forms in glass.

 

This website will have a blog “Can We Talk?”, written by Wayne Husted, and a store in which Wayne’s current designs, including the Jazz in Glass Collectors Series line of art glass, will be sold.

Can We Talk?

Wayne Husted writes about his experiences and career beginning as design director of Blenko Glass Company from the 1950s to 1960s, and subsequently as a product designer for many U.S. and international manufacturers. He also discusses his current work, including the Jazz In Glass Collectors Series, and invites readers to ask questions about his designs and their art glass collections.

 

“TAKE FIVE” TO READ THIS POST

Wayne Husted

The TAKE FIVE bottle from the new Jazz in Glass Collectors Series

The TAKE FIVE bottle from the new Jazz in Glass Collectors Series

In the course of creating my new Jazz in Glass Collectors Series I have met some wonderfully talented artists. One is the gifted musician, Tristan, the 17 year-old son of glass sculptor, Latchezar Boyadjiev. (www.latchezarboyadjiev.com)

The cold work—cutting, polishing, fitting stoppers etc—for the Jazz In Glass Series and Rollatinis is done at the Boyadjiev studio.

When we stopped by to pick up some finished pieces, Latch was listening to a jazz station and asked if we would like to hear his son Tristan play the Dave Brubeck song “Take Five”,  the jazz number that inspired the large yellow “Take Five” piece. 

It turned out that Latch is a big jazz fan, and his two sons, Tristan and Chris, are students of jazz as well as classical music. Both of his sons play the saxophone with great skill.

Here’s a video clip of Tristan’s performance. (Take a look at Latch’s extraordinary glass sculptures behind Tristan.)

Here’s a little back-story that will make you laugh: The younger son, Chris, 11 years old, listened as his brother played, but soon faded off to another room. And now, wafting up from below, was Chris playing “Take Five” on his saxophone, making the statement “I can do that!” Both of these remarkable kids were quick to answer my trite question: “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” “Practice!” (An Interesting response, as Tristan has to decide soon if he wants to accept scholarships to Julliard, NYU or the famed Berklee College of Music in Boston.)

The Gurgle Decanter—Origin of the “Take Five” Bottle

During my first full year at Blenko in 1953, a fellow Alfred University ceramic student from Germany paid us a visit. As a gift, she brought me a book with a photo of a traditional glass liquor bottle with straw-sized tubes that infused bubbles into the drink as it was poured. The caption for the photo claimed it made a little “gurgling” sound when the bubbly liquid was poured. I liked the gurgle idea, and created a design of stacked spheres that would restrict the flow of liquid as it poured out, hoping to duplicate the claimed gurgle sound. It did not, but the shape sold well, so the Gurgle Decanter took on a life of its own. The Gurgle also reminds me of those unique glass beakers and tubes seen in the laboratories of mad scientists of the 1950s science fiction shows.

That vintage Gurgle was on my mind when I created the design for the Jazz in Glass “Take Five” bottle. (The green decanter on the left in the photo above is the Gurgle decanter. I named the amber bottle in the middle the Spindle, and the blue bottle the Spool.) Great thanks to Bob Porath for the photo.

I wanted the new “Take Five” piece to be bigger, so I designed it to have five sections (four in the bottle and a fifth for the stopper.)

Finally Able to Take Five from the “Take Five”

I’m finally able to breath a great sigh of relief after months of several failed attempts trying to blow the “Take Five” design into molds that didn’t work. We almost abandoned this concept. Gathering and shaping the molten glass for this foot-and-a-half-long piece without it deforming or stretching out too thin for blowing or too thick to fit into the mold, proved to be very difficult. My vintage 1950’s Gurgle decanter has three identical sphere-like sections which blew out much easier than my Jazz In Glass “Take Five”. Note that the sections in the JIG version get wider at the bottom, making it easier for the molten glass to flow downward into the mold. The piece is now made in a very special mammoth-sized cherry mold, hand-carved by one of the very few wooden mold makers still working. The Take Five piece is made at Effetto Glassworks in Richmond, CA. Number one of the limited edition of 50 is now available. It is a brilliant cadmium yellow, cased over crystal.

The Take Five bottle being blown at Effetto Glassworks by Mark Andrew and Guido Gerlitz.

The Take Five bottle being blown at Effetto Glassworks by Mark Andrew and Guido Gerlitz.

It would have been so much easier if only Dave Brubeck had called his radical composition “Take Four”!

 

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My posts for "Can We Talk?" are the basis for a crowd-sourced book project, and I welcome your comments and input for inclusion in the book. You will receive credit.

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