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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.

 

WAYNE'S WORLD

Wayne Husted

 Opening two pages of Andy McConnell’s five page article in  Antique Collecting  magazine.

Opening two pages of Andy McConnell’s five page article in Antique Collecting magazine.

In my last blogpost, I introduced you to Andy McConnell, a highly respected antique glass expert on the Antiques Roadshow, and author who just completed his twenty year project, the book The Decanter, Ancient to Modern. Andy had hunted me down in cyberspace after finding the mysterious “Face Decanter” at an auction house in London.

To quote him from his recently published Antique Collecting magazine article “Wayne’s World,” “Click, click, then suddenly, bang! Right before me was the most extraordinary decanter, formed as a Henry Moore-esque head in the profile.” On it was a silver Blenko sticker, and after a difficult search, he posted a query on the Blenko Collectors Group Facebook page, and was advised “Why not ask Wayne Husted?”

 On the left, the purple Face Decanter that Andy, right, found at a London auction house.

On the left, the purple Face Decanter that Andy, right, found at a London auction house.

I was found! Thus began a frenetic back and forth of emails and even overseas phone calls, as Andy says in the article “Not only had I found him, alive and kicking in California, he turned out to have a vivid memory and loved to share his stories. Over the next few days the transatlantic airways buzzed with Wayne’s witty, stream-of-consciousness memories and explanations.”

 Andy gathered all of my decanter designs that he was able to find and emailed them to me in a pdf, along with his draft captions. He asked me to confirm his facts and fill in any details for every one of them—no small task. (A few of these were actually designed by Joel Meyers: the tall tangerine one third from the left in the top row, and all three green ones on the catalog page at the end of the first row.)

Andy gathered all of my decanter designs that he was able to find and emailed them to me in a pdf, along with his draft captions. He asked me to confirm his facts and fill in any details for every one of them—no small task. (A few of these were actually designed by Joel Meyers: the tall tangerine one third from the left in the top row, and all three green ones on the catalog page at the end of the first row.)

I was especially intrigued by that purple Face Decanter that Andy discovered in the London auction house. It was one of two or three that were made at Blenko in 1962. Again, to quote Andy: “…one in blue with a nose so thin it broke, and the purple one with an ersatz stopper and improvised eyes made by Blenko after Husted left the company.” Actually, I believe it was made in the original session in which I was present. One nice surprise is that Andy has included the purple Face Decanter on the back cover of his decanter book.

 Front and back covers of Andy’s book. There’s the purple Face Decanter in the lower right corner on the back.

Front and back covers of Andy’s book. There’s the purple Face Decanter in the lower right corner on the back.

RAISING LAZARUS

Seeing it again, I really liked the design, and was inspired to recreate it—to bring it back from the dead like in the parable of Lazarus, a bible story I remember from when I was a kid in Sunday school. Here was my poor abandoned design, lost to memory and the cullet bin, mysteriously back to life in the faraway land of London, England, over a half century later. So I named my current face vase Lazarus.

 The new Lazarus Face Vase in three color combinations—opal, daffodil, and teal.

The new Lazarus Face Vase in three color combinations—opal, daffodil, and teal.

The new Lazarus story began several months ago, on a drive in the Central Valley of California, looking for a source for cherry logs with which to make molds, I found a cherry farmer who had put up his land for sale and was removing the old cherry trees. He offered to give me as many of the freshly cut logs as I wanted, since he was just going to have them hauled off any way. Cherry wood is actually the best wood for glass molds because of its sap content. Old  logs that have been setting around to dry are no good—they must be fresh.

 The cherry logs that I brought back from the orchard in Lodi, and the Lazarus mold that Don Augstein made from one of them. It was great to find logs this large from mature cherry trees.

The cherry logs that I brought back from the orchard in Lodi, and the Lazarus mold that Don Augstein made from one of them. It was great to find logs this large from mature cherry trees.

I trucked four big logs home and asked my cabinet maker/sculptor friend, Don Augstein, if he’d like to collaborate on making a mold for the new design based on the vintage face decanter. Don had the perfect skills and tools to make the mold. Once the mold was ready, we took it to two different glass studios before we finally got a great looking artist’s proof of the Lazarus Face Vase in opal (pictured above).

 Don Augstein beginning to carve a mold in his shop in Grass Valley.

Don Augstein beginning to carve a mold in his shop in Grass Valley.

Like the original face decanter that we attempted at Blenko in 1962, the current Lazarus was challenging to blow even though I increased its width by a half inch or so and changed the proportions of the nose and mouth.

Alex Abajian of Glow Glass Studio in Oakland is the very talented glass artist who is making the numbered editions of the Lazarus in five different color options. We are also working on a Lazarus Face Decanter with stopper.

 Alex Abajian of Glow Glass Studio heats the Lazarus vase just before applying the eyes and decorative wrap.

Alex Abajian of Glow Glass Studio heats the Lazarus vase just before applying the eyes and decorative wrap.

The forty plus Blenko decanters in McConnell’s book have become highly collectible by serious antique collectors as well as those just enjoying the search through antique malls and eBay. 

CINCINNATI HERE I COME

On February 23-24, 2019, I will be the special guest at the 20th Century Cincinnati Show of vintage modern art and furniture. I’d love to meet you in person at the show, and discuss your collection and sign any vintage Wayne Husted designs that you bring to the show. My booth will be a gallery of vintage and current work. Go to https://queencityshows.com/20th-century-cincinnati/ for more information about the show.

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