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?”
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.”
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.
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 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.
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).
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.
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.