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17671 Candlewood Court
Penn Valley, CA, 95946
United States

415.433.4656

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.

 

HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU, ROLLATINI

Wayne Husted

The latest version of the Rollatini, in opal white with ruby wraps, is available as a limited edition of 50 to collectors.

The latest version of the Rollatini, in opal white with ruby wraps, is available as a limited edition of 50 to collectors.

Last December, I created a design for a unique cocktail shaker that I call the Rollatini Cocktail Spinner. It mixes the cocktail ingredients by gently rolling on its cone shaped bottom.

Perhaps a little known fact is that classic gin or vodka martinis do not require stirring or shaking. Gin and vodka with sweet or dry vermouth mix thoroughly without the ‘’shake don’t stir” (famous instructions from Sean Connery’s 007). Only if ingredients like sugar, or orange juice or tomato juice, for example, are added is some action needed to get a full blend.

Mixing cocktails in the Rollatini is pleasant—and even mesmerizing. It adds fun and romance to this age-old social custom.

The first Rollatini was made in sapphire blue with cobalt detailing (called lip wraps). We had a request to make it in cobalt blue, so we added that color to the line. Then we added chartreuse (which we call the Absinthe Rollatini—“Choose your poisin!”), and a tangerine (called the Tequila Sunrise). Create the cocktail that best fits its Rollatini. We like martinis in the sapphire blue (with Bombay Sapphire gin) and cobalt blue (Sky vodka). Any cocktail that has orange juice calls for the tangerine Rollatini.

Rollatinis in sapphire, cobalt, and absinthe.

Rollatinis in sapphire, cobalt, and absinthe.

The tangerine Rollatini, Tequila Sunrise.

The tangerine Rollatini, Tequila Sunrise.

The collector who ordered number one of the Absinthe Rollatini told me that he had been especially fond of the Rialto line that I designed at Blenko in the 1950s, and said that if I made the Rollatini in the Rialto colors of opal white with ruby wraps, he would definitely place an order. We did so, and he did. We now have the opal white Rollatini with ruby lip wraps and are offering it as a limited, numbered edition of 50. The opal Rollatini calls out for daiquiris.

Here is a fun story about the vintage Rialto line:

One of my most unusual designs from the 1950s made at Blenko Glass was a Rialto bottle with a single red eye in its stopper. As I recall I had to beg a little to get it into the 1959 catalog as it was definitely far out for Blenko.

It didn’t sell well, and as a matter of fact, the entire Rialto group of 12 designs kind of bombed on the market. But that makes it very rare. (One is on the website 1stdibs now for $3,500). The opal Rialto bottle with the red eye in its stopper was inspired by a line in the movie “Casablanca”. I was an usher in a movie theater in high school in 1944—ten years before I created the design—but I had seen the movie at least a dozen times and loved it.

The spread from the 1960 Blenko catalog that features the Rialto line. Note the "here's looking at you" bottle, fourth from the right, with the red eye on the stopper.

The spread from the 1960 Blenko catalog that features the Rialto line. Note the "here's looking at you" bottle, fourth from the right, with the red eye on the stopper.

Of course “blanca” means white and, set in a hot climate, everyone in the movie wore white as well. In a poignant scene, Humphrey Bogart looks longingly at Ingrid Bergman, who is about to board a plane out of Casablanca to leave him forever and Bogart says  “Here’s looking at you, kid”. My sinister plot at Blenko was to memorialize this famous movie line with the design of my Rialto decanter. How amazing is it that 50 years later, a vintage one is offered for sale at a price that would have been almost a year’s earnings for a glassworker at Blenko in the 1950s.

Note: Subscribe below to "Can We Talk?" to receive notification whenever I publish a new blogpost, amd announcements of deals in the Gallery Store.

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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