Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Blendo versus Blenko

I recently wrote about this set of Blendo pitcher with six glasses that I found at GasLamp Too in Nashville. In pastels of yellow, pink, blue and green, this is the perfect set for a “Mad Men” style cocktail bar (available through 
Several readers contacted GasLamp Too about the piece. They all had the same question: Wasn't this called "Blenko" glass rather than "Blendo"? No, this is indeed Blendo; Blenko is another type of glassware entirely. But you can see how this is an easy mistake to make: The spelling is only one letter apart, with a "k" or a "d" making the difference. (Photo below: a lavender Blendo martini set at in the shop Chez Marianne.)
During the 1950s and 1960s the West Virginia Glass Company of Weston, West Virginia produced its line of beautiful, yet inexpensive, Blendo glassware that came in fabulous colors. Frosted up the sides until they faded to clear, in an ombré style of graduated shading, the glasses and their pitchers were trimmed with shiny gold rims. Blendo included a wide array of cocktail ware as well as serving ware. (Photo below: A Blendo relish set found at FreeLiving at
 Among the brighter Blendo colors were tangerine and yellow and among the pastel shades was a beautiful lavender. Blendo's maker, the West Virginia Glass Company, was formed in 1928 and was shuttered in 1987. 
Blenko, which still exists today, is also a West Virginia company; it is in Milton, WV. (Yet again, another confusing element of the "Blendo versus Blenko" story.)  Blenko makes hand-blown artisan glass that looks completely different from Blendo, as you can see from the photo, below. This is a Blenko water bottle. 
 Blenko has been in production since 1893. It was the brainchild of William John Blenko, who was born in London in 1854, apprenticed with a glass craftsman and moved to New York City at the age of 38. Interestingly, is still owned and operated by the Blenko family today.
Monday, May 12, 2014

Chinese children’s hats

Since having my adorable child, Stella, I don't have as much extra funds for collecting vintage finds. But if I had more coins to rub together, I would collect Chinese children’s hats. Such hats were typically made by Chinese nationals known as “the minority peoples” of certain Chinese northern and southwest provinces.
These two silk hats date to the late 1800s and are hand-sewn with embroidered silk appliqué and the three-dimensional faces of dragons. I found them at GasLamp Too in Nashville, which is one of my clients. One cap has a longer, scalloped flap at the back.
Like all Chinese minority hats, these would have been made by a child’s mother for the same purpose: To provide protection from demons, evil spirits and ghosts. Such hats were also thought to foster important qualities in the child who wore them, including academic success, happiness, wealth, health, courage, long life, grace and beauty.
I asked a friend to translate the symbols on one hat and discovered they mean “an ocean of blessings” or even “abundant blessings.”
This orange hat, created in the form of a dragon, is found online at a company called Cyber Rug that deals in Oriental rugs. I love that it has bug eyes and a tail. Children still wear such hats in the more isolated regions today, but most hats of this genre ceased to be made in the mid-20th century.
An excellent source of information on this genre is “Stories of Chinese Children's Hats, Symbolism and Folklore” by Phylis Lan Lin & Christi Lan Lin.