- Associated Press - Saturday, June 4, 2016

MILTON, W.Va. (AP) - Blenko Glass Company has started making its 2016 West Virginia Day piece, “Patience’s Prize,” which will go on sale at 8 a.m. Saturday, June 18, in celebration of West Virginia’s 153rd birthday.

In his 10th year of designing the celebration piece, Arlon Bayliss described the vase as a nod to West Virginia’s fishing patronage.

“It’s a stylized fish shape with the fish’s tail opening near the top where a vase would normally open,” he said. “It’s a curved shape so it looks dynamic and so it looks like it is jumping out of the water. The color is chosen to give a feeling of the outdoors, not necessarily to give the color of any particular fish, but to give a sense of the atmosphere of being outdoors near the river.”

Bayliss said the 14-inch birthday piece is a combination of all the fish West Virginia has to offer.

“The piece is chosen to look like a lot of different fish. I did not want to make it a perfect trout or a perfect large-mouth bass,” he said. “I wanted to make it look like a lot of different fish, so it just reminded people of the joy of fishing.”

Bayliss, 58, is from Stratford-upon-Avon, England, and studied at the Royal College of Art in London. He is a professor of art and design at Anderson University in Indiana.

Two companion pieces called “The one that got away” and “The other one that got away” will also be available for purchase.

The two are smaller versions of “Patience’s Prize,” standing at 12 inches tall, and can be displayed as a vase or standalone items. “The one that got away” is blue, green, opal white color mix, while “The other one that got away” is yellow with a mid-body fade.

The companion pieces will be available for purchase from 7 to 9 p.m. June 17 at the visitors center. They will be available for a limited amount of time, but are not limited edition.

Bayliss said he believes there are only four complete collections of all the West Virginia Day pieces. He said each year of his 10-year tenure he has strived to represent the plethora of resources West Virginia has to offer.

“If the piece is a way for Blenko to celebrate West Virginia’s birthday, then I want the pieces to say something about the wonderful resources of West Virginia, what we have to be proud of,” he said. “I want to talk about celebrating life in West Virginia with its natural resources.”

While designing and creating the pieces, Bayliss said he spent many hours with Blenko employees talking about their fishing experiences. Bayliss worked with Daniel Chapman - who hand-carved the cherry wood mold - glass blower Perry Bays and master finisher Randy Rider, from start to finish on each piece.

An avid fisherman himself, Bayliss said he would often travel from three or four states away for West Virginia fishing.

“One of my first memories of fishing with my boy is that I brought him at the age of 8 to West Virginia to fish, and we had fun times in the river,” he said. “Fishing is something I think West Virginia has the absolute right to be proud of.”

The West Virginia Day vase is available only on Saturday, June 18, at the Blenko Visitor Center, 9 Bill Blenko Drive, Milton. Just 153 are available and, as is tradition, the number produced represents West Virginia’s age. There is a limit of one per person. No online orders or phone orders will be taken for the vase.

A special developmental proof of the birthday piece and companion pieces in Blenko’s uncommon red will be offered at a silent auction the evening of June 17 and each one-of-a-kind piece will go to the highest bidder.

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Information from: The Herald-Dispatch, https://www.herald-dispatch.com


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