MILTON, W.Va. -- For the 33rd year, Blenko Glass Co. has created a limited-edition piece in celebration of West Virginia's birthday.The visitors center at the Blenko factory will open at 8 a.m. June 22 for customers to buy one piece each. Sales will be on a first-come, first-served basis; no telephone or advance orders will be taken.According to a news release from Blenko, this year's birthday piece celebrates how West Virginians hold each other in their hearts: "Made of ice blue colored glass to represent a mountaineer's freedom, this 11-inch-tall ballooning vase expands with hearts from a narrow base to broad, rounded shoulders and a generous flared rim."There are 150 vases and they will be sold for $160 plus tax. Each piece is hand signed by the designer, Arlon Bayliss, and by Blenko President Walter Blenko Jr.
Customers will receive a free commemorative West Virginia Day collector's medallion (while supplies last), and birthday cake and refreshments will be served. Blenko will be available to sign additional purchases and Bayliss will be present to speak with customers.Also, Blenko Glass is having a new event, "Happy After Hours with Blenko Glass," on June 21. The center will close at 4 p.m. and reopen from 7 to 9 p.m. Two special-edition pieces will be for sale, a 15 percent discount given off all purchases, and there will be a signing event with Blenko and Bayliss. Cupcakes and refreshments will be served.The visitors center is at 9 Bill Blenko Drive in Milton.