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17671 Candlewood Court
Penn Valley, CA, 95946
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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.

 

RUBY, MY DEAR

Wayne Husted

Ruby My Dear decanter and Night in Tunisia "Genie" bottle from my Jazz in Glass series

Ruby My Dear decanter and Night in Tunisia "Genie" bottle from my Jazz in Glass series

The song “Ruby My Dear” is a Thelonious Monk composition named for Monk’s first love, Rubie Richardson. It’s a jazz ballad that Monk composed in 1947, but it’s been recorded by many jazz greats like John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Bill Evans. Pull it up on I-Tunes or You Tube, and you’ll probably recognize the tune.

The color ruby was and is a favorite of mine and of collectors. Back in the 50s and 60s, Blenko made one of the purest rubies, and I chose that color to make many of my designs, like the Regal line (1960), pictured below. Ruby was the accent color I chose for the Rialto opal line with it’s “here’s looking at you, kid” decanter with the ruby eye.

The Regal Line as shown in the 1960 Blenko catalog

The Regal Line as shown in the 1960 Blenko catalog

For my Jazz in Glass line, I chose the color ruby for the jigger decanter “Ruby My Dear”, named for the Monk composition, and another shade of ruby for the “Night in Tunisia” bottle (both pictured at the top).

In glass, gold is used to achieve the ruby color. Yes, the actual metal gold, which produces shades of ruby—from a rose tint to the deep rich red of ruby gems. While some colors require a lot of the specific metal to achieve deep colors, it takes only a few grams of gold to turn crystal glass into a deep ruby red. The cinnamon color of the “Night In Tunisia” piece also has gold as its colorant, but a lot less than for the deep ruby red.

Another warmer shade of red is achieved with the element selenium. At Blenko, I named that shade tangerine to distinguish it from ruby red. I introduced tangerine in 1957, and my timing was right on, as the color tangerine was on the rise in the fashion and decorating worlds. We used tangerine for the original jigger bottle, the sun face, and the “football” decanter (later named the huge perfume bottle).

Vintage sun face decanter and three other vintage Blenko pieces in tangerine

Vintage sun face decanter and three other vintage Blenko pieces in tangerine

Unlike gold, selenium produces a straw yellow hue until it is reheated. The yellow turns to red only where it’s heated a second time and only in areas that are reheated.

Other colors are achieved by various other additives. Iron oxide in glass makes blueish green, and if chromium is added, you get a richer green. Boron and sulfur creates blue, and cobalt is used to create cobalt blue, the color of my “Bluesette” bottle. Cadmium and sulfur yields yellow. Together with selenium, you get bright red and orange. Both cadmium and selenium are highly toxic and OSHA is very strict about how they are disposed of.

Bluesette in cobalt from current Jazz in Glass and vintage Blenko jonquil decanter

Bluesette in cobalt from current Jazz in Glass and vintage Blenko jonquil decanter

I chose the colors for my “Jazz in Glass” series that would create a six note visual “chord” when shown all together. The Rollatini colors were chosen a bit more serendipitously. I am open to making the Rollatini in other colors, if anyone wants to have one in your favorite color. Let me know.

As stated in the article “Elements of Color in Stained and Colored Glass” on the website geology.com, “Color sometimes defines the usefulness of a glass object, but it almost always defines its desirability.” Maybe this was true for the object of Thelonius Monk’s desire, Rubie.

(Note: Subscribe below to “Can We Talk” to receive notification whenever I publish a new blogpost, and 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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