Cool Again: Collecting Colorful Glassware

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While I think shopping’s fun, I’ve never cared much for a mall. I love flea markets! Tag sales and antique/thrift stores are fun, too. Items that have withstood time or have a past history are interesting. Like many Farmgirls, I’m passionate about vintage items, and love anything glass! When glass is colorful, it’s even more tempting!

My childhood kitchen was red, colorful and inviting. Sure, there were gold appliances popular in the 70’s, but there were also red-and-white-checked cafe curtains mom had sewn herself, and a big strawberry McCoy cookie jar that was always filled. It was a big eat-in kitchen, but on holidays we sat in the dining room using tableware reserved for special occasions. Mom’s ruby-colored crystal water glasses graced the table on those occasions, and then stored in the credenza for safekeeping. The goblets would make the sweetest twinkling sound as we’d tiptoe by the credenza. I remember how I loved the way water looked in those iridescent cranberry glasses! I knew I was a “big girl” when I drank water from one on a special holiday. As an adult, Mom gave them to me as a housewarming present. How they survived shipping is a miracle! Mom bought her water goblets in 1964 from Foley’s Department store. Today, they’re stored in my china cabinet, but I don’t often use them, and my daughter’s never sipped water from one! They’re so delicate with thin rims – I’m afraid I’ll break one! (They still make that familiar “tinkling” sound when my footsteps vibrate the cabinet).

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Last fall, I was in a thrift store with one of my friends when she spied a set of glasses and a pitcher. She exclaimed, “Nicole, that just screams “you”! Not knowing what the set was, I could tell it was old, probably from the 1950’s. Clear at the top, the bottom half of each piece is a pretty cranberry red.  It was love at first sight, and I was thrilled with the price tag: $4.00 for the whole set! Bringing my new treasure home, research revealed it was a “Blendo” set.

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“Blendo” glass, made by the West Virginia Specialty Glass company, was most popular during the 1950’s and 1960’s, when colorful dresses wore worn with colorful aprons and cocktail parties were a popular past time. Blendo glass came in a variety of shapes and colors, and featured pitchers, glasses, cocktail shakers and serve ware such as salad sets and cruets. Today, Blendo’s popularity is increasing again. Collectors can find really reasonable prices on pieces at thrift stores, tag sales, and online through Facebook, Etsy, and Ebay.

This tall Blendo pitcher is a "frosted" example.

This tall Blendo pitcher is a “frosted” example.

It’s recognizable by the clear glass that “blends” into a rainbow of colors such as blue, orange, yellow, pink and more. The “frosted” pieces have a cool, refreshing look that begs to hold cold lemonade or iced tea to be served on a hot day. I love my cranberry red set, as it blends (pardon the pun) with spring, summer, or fall decor, as well as served me well (no pun intended again) at the holidays. Just use care to always wash by hand, and do not use harsh detergents, because the color can fade and flake off if handled improperly.

That same friend found another piece of the same color for me at Christmas. This piece is a small footed pitcher with a glass stirrer, shaped like a very large brandy snifter. This was used in the cocktail era to serve large batches of martinis. I think it’s adorable!

I love tin trays, too. The vintage one this Blendo piece is on is vintage from Denmark (like my husband, hee hee).

I love tin trays, too. The vintage one this Blendo piece is on is vintage from Denmark (like my husband, hee-hee).

Another friend and I have a tradition at Christmas, the “Vintage Gift Challenge”. Our gifts to each other must be vintage and under $10. This year, she gave me a chip and dip set in the same cranberry color as the pitchers and glasses! Oddly, she found it in a store and put it away before I ever found that first pitcher and glass set! I’m so lucky to have friends that really know me! The shape of the bowls are unique, and if you turn the little bowl around on the stand, it becomes a salad set… genius design!

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My particular set came in the original box, made by Indiana Glass, but similar pieces are listed on eBay under “Blendo”. Can’t you just imagine ladies of a bygone time, in pearls and heels, getting together for a game of bridge and serving munchies in colorful glass? If you spy a beautiful, old glass pitcher or serving piece by West Virginia or Indiana glass, snap it up. The pieces recall another era, but are still beautiful today. Try a colorful Blendo pitcher filled with flowers as a vase, or use a bowl as a centerpiece.

Tell me, are you are a Blendo or vintage glassware fan, too? What’s your favorite color of glass?

Until Next Time…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

Leave a comment 28 Comments

  1. Krista says:

    That red glassware is very beautiful! It reminds me of some glassware my mother used when I was younger. It was a gold colored glass with lengthwise designs. Of course we only used them on special occasions. I would love to have a set of my own in that blue frosted color. Next time I’m out at thrift stores I will have to look for some.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Krista! Wonder what your mom’s special occasion glasses were? I love vintage and antique glassware (although daily we also drink beverages from mason jars, always have). I love that the designs and colors of glassware from the 40’s – 70’s withstand the test of time, still looking fresh today. Keep an eye out at those thrift stores – Blendo is making a comeback but it’s still reasonably priced for collectors. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  2. Rebecca says:

    I love the vintage glassware. Here in West Virginia, I have always had easy access to the glass factories. Blenko Glass Factory in Milton, WV is right up the road from me! Several times a year, they allow the public to come in and blow their own glass, which I have yet to do, but it’s on my bucket list. They also do a speciality piece each year on the state’s birthday and people line up days in advance to get them. I have several pieces of the Cranberry glass from Pilgrim, too. Since they’re no longer in business, I take special care of them.. The cranberry glass is actually made with gold.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Rebecca, How cool is that?! I bet that would be fun to go to the Blenko factory and blow glass! I read that Blenko is still around, and “Blendo” was named after their founder. I don’t think I knew that cranberry glass had gold in it. Thanks for sharing! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Debbie says:

    Hi Nicole,

    Great finds and collection. I am also a fan of colored glass. I have several pieces of pink depression glass that belonged to my husbands aunt and some pretty green luncheon plates I bought from a friend who was downsizing many years ago. I also love carnival glass. I have some of my mom’s smaller pieces which were always used for dips, relishes, olives and pickles on her holiday table. I use some on my dresser for catching jewelry and my glasses. My pieces are stored in my glass front china cabinet where I can watch them shine everyday and I often use them throughout the year when we have a fancy Sunday breakfast. Thanks for sharing your lovely collection and the history that goes with it. I love learning about vintage ” anything”!
    Hugs to you!
    Your blogging sis in the east!
    Deb

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Deb, Ooooo…sounds like you have some great finds, too! I like using glass pieces in other rooms, too. I have a saucer in the guest bath that I use for a soap dish. The cup broke but the saucer was too pretty to retire. It’s china from the 40’s. I also have bath salts in a milk glass sugar bowl that I had a double of, and a big green glass goblet that I liked at a tag sale sits on my desk and holds paperclips and other small odds and ends. Nice that you have your husband’s aunt’s depression glass. The pink is so pretty. Weren’t tables set so beautifully back in the day? Hope you all don’t get a lot of snow this weekend…it’s headed our way in a day or two! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  4. Carol says:

    This is what I collect and use: delphite, capri ware, cobalt depression glass, vintage pyrex. Light blue, turquoise and bright blue. Do you see a color trend?
    I vote to let your daughter and the rest of your family and friends use the stemmed cranberry glasses. If one breaks you have one less and you have had the joy of using them. You can probably buy a replacement off of EBay. Been there, done that.
    I once had a delphite coffee cup break, so we glued in back and it now holds hairclips in my bathroom. Twice my daughter broke one of my pyrex mixing bowls (the seventies brown, not the 50s turquoise) and a replacement was found, once at a tag sale and once on EBay.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Carol, yes, I think I will use them for our next special family dinner, but I’m still not using them for a holiday party, lol! I broke two vintage things recently: one is a vintage china Christmas cup with holly on it. It was in the sink and I dropped another dish on it doing dishes and the handle came off. Tried to glue it back, but I simply glued myself together. I will try again next holiday season. I also broke a glass. A friend gave me a set that was about twenty years old, and one fell from the cabinet and smashed on the tile. Not too terribly old, but now I have seven. I, too, have replaced this and that on EBay – a great source for that! Sounds like you have been bitten by the same collecting bug as me. You’ve got some great glass! I also like Fire King and Westmoreland Milk glass. Thanks for commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  5. crlagroue says:

    It must be in our genes. I like glassware too. Especially martini or scotch glasses.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      You’ve got some nice pieces, too, though not vintage (yet). I will look for some vintage ones for you…good Christmas gift idea. I know you like the Danish glass bowls, too. ~Nicole

  6. Beverly Battaglia says:

    Nicole, Very pretty pictures in this blog. Glad you still have the cranberry stemware!
    Love,
    Mother

  7. Mary Rauch says:

    Oh Nicole, you just gave me the BEST blast-from-the-past. I really, really, really enjoyed looking at your pictures!
    I was born and raised in West Virginia. Many of these pieces I remember seeing at the homes of our friends and relatives. We were VERY poor and did not have any of these. If I were to find some now (at 76) I’d probably grab them and run to offer as a gift to some dear friends that enjoy and collect items of this nature.
    Before I wrote you today, I went online and looked at the BLENKO and BLENDO web sites to remind myself “which was which”. That also brought back a flood of memories.
    All in all I have really enjoyed myself this morning as I read your blog. Thanks a million for taking the time (and photos) and article. It was a real treat!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Mary, Oh my! Thank you for your comment. You made my day. I am so glad you enjoyed the post. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  8. Marilyn Collins says:

    Nicole, I loved reading that post and seeing all the beautiful glassware. You have a lovely collection. Enjoy!
    Marilyn

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Thanks, Marilyn! I’m glad you liked the post. It’s fun to share with my farmgirl friends. Hugs! Nicole

  9. Margaret Taffi says:

    I grew up with a lot of this sort of thing! This brings back so many memories! I have a set of glass dinnerware that my family calls the ruby dishes. I got it in the 70’s when my children were small and they hold a place in my heart!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Margaret, I’m happy that the blog brought back memories for you. I love to set a table with pretty glass and dinnerware. It makes meals more special, don’t you think? When I go to my mom’s, she still serves us on china that she had when I was small. Love it! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  10. Susan says:

    I do similar….i collect green glass. …i have not seen red glassware since i was a kid.we have seversl thrift shops here. I recently found a lemon juicer….trying to replace the glass ones I have, but they dont seem to make them anymore. My husband use to go with me, now i treasure hunt alone. Not as much v fun. But it has it’s moments …one bad thing about sone old glassware….it had lead in itl so maje sure ut doesn’t if your using it c to drink out of. If a magnet sticks to it, I’m told, it has lead in it. Not sure. Lovely treasures. Susana

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Susan, Good point! There are also lead kits, though I haven’t heard of the magnet trick. That is a good one to know, too. Thanks for sharing. Good luck with your juicer hunt! Have you tried Ebay? Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  11. Andrea A says:

    Love your article about Blendo glassware! I recently gave a frosted lavender tall pitcher to a dear friend as a hostess gift. I filled it with a large bouquet of flowers. I often shop in thrift stores looking for interesting vintage glass and china pieces. When we go to friend’s house for dinner or to a party, we bring a vintage piece filled hors d’oeuvres, mints, flowers etc as a hostess gift. When we leave, the family has a lovely piece to use in their home. You can find gorgeous vintage/antique glassware and china at thrift stores and garage sales for minimal cost. So you end up spending less than you would going to a grocery store and picking a piece of landfill destined plastic! (Not everyone recycles.)

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Andrea, thank you…glad you liked the post! I love your idea of picking up a vintage piece as part of a gift of flowers/hostess gift. I think the fact that vintage is something that is not “cookie cutter”, or is relatively one-of-a-kind adds to the charm and thoughtfulness, and I think ALL things vintage are better than ANYTHING modern in plastic! Great ideas, thanks for commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  12. Alexandra says:

    Hi Nicole! I just moved to Connecticut from Oregon and haven’t found many people I could relate to here but came upon your blog and feel a sense of kinship with you knowing that you’re in Fairfield County too! I look forward to following your blog posts!

    Best,

    Alexandra

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Alexandra! Welcome to Connecticut! I remember feeling the same way when I first moved here, but after awhile I found my way around and love being in Connecticut It’s perfect for all aspects of a “farmgirl” lifestyle! There really is a lot to see and do in our state. So glad you visited my blog! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  13. Rosemarie says:

    Love the blog! I found some vintage glassware in my mom’s kitchen cabinets. My sister and I grabbed some pieces that we remembered mom bringing out on special occasions and holidays. I am so happy that she kept this pieces, some going back to the 1950’s for us to enjoy today.
    I also found some beautiful rose colored goblets in Chip’s mother’s kitchen. I just loved the rose color and vintage look. We now have these glasses in our home waiting for our next entertaining event: Happy Hour with Friends!
    Thank you for the tips on what types and manufacturer of glassware we should look for at our next antique shopping trip! I also enjoy your tips on incorporating the old items into the present. Makes one’s parties unique and classy!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Rose, thanks so much for the comment. Sounds like you have some great treasures there! Happy Hunting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  14. Susan says:

    I collect green glass…it keeps growing too.and i saw a similar set like yours in rdd, but i had no money for it, but then, i collect green. I wished it was in green. Green us alway tempting for me…long story behind it. My mother had see thru clear glass set, and when i find them, my mother had, i buy it. I have a tea set and matching sugar bowl and creamer. Love the things of bygone years. Its probably because my father always collected antique. If my sister wasn’t so ignorant she could have sold off everything after my mother died, she would have had a small firtune, and it could have prevented her from bankruptcy . Ignorance isn’t bliss! But antique can make kide bearable. I think keeping things from the past bring you simpler pleasures. I think its why i collect what i collect. Using them make you enjoy a little bit in life.it slows you down, so you don’t break them. It reminds you that life is fragile. Susan

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Susan, I never looked at it that way – “using them makes you enjoy life a little bit…it slows you down so you don’t break them”. Love it! Thanks for sharing! Farmgirl hugs, Nicole

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