Wayne Husted

Back in the 1950s, when he was fresh out of college, Wayne Husted was hired as Director of Design at the venerable Blenko Glass Company in Milton, West Virginia. During his ten years at Blenko, he created over 60 new designs every year, resulting in over 600 unique designs in dozens of colors, many of which are included in museum collections and sought after by private collectors nationwide. Think of mid-century modern glass design, and you picture Wayne’s distinctly sculptural, often nonfunctional “architectural scale” designs.

Now, at the age of 88, Wayne is still designing in glass. As an advocate of the Bauhaus principle that design must best reflect the process by which the design is rendered, and as the recipient of over 30 design patents, he continues to try new processes and techniques in working with exceptionally talented glass artists. He is currently working with Effetto Glassworks, Slow Burn Glass and other makers in the San Francisco Bay Area on the new Jazz in Glass Collectors Series of designs that recall his work of the 1950s, as well as other new art forms in glass.

Wayne’s work has been exhibited at Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and Pompidou Center in Paris, and is in the permanent collections of the Huntington Gallery in Huntington, West Virginia, the West Virginia Glass Museum in Weston, The Walker Art Gallery in Minneapolis, The Corning Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

The Jazz in Glass Collectors Series currently on exhibit at the Healdsburg Center for the Arts is a limited edition of 50 of each of six pieces.

Critics have said that Wayne’s glass creations in the 1950’s were “jazz for the eyes, just as the jazz music creations of the period were jazz for the ears.” Both jazz music and studio art glass use color and rhythm. Both involve improvisation. Blowing glass is a dance full of quick aesthetic decisions and timing.

It was a challenge to choose six jazz classics to express in glass.

Night in Tunisia is an obvious choice as the shape resembles a minaret of Middle Eastern architecture, and it also resembles a genie bottle of folklore.

Take Five was also an easy choice as a pure jazz composition—a complex composition in five parts.

Green Dolphin Street was named for its color, and its somewhat fish-like shape.

Ruby My Dear was chosen for its color, and based on one of the most popular of my Blenko designs of the 1950s, the “jigger bottle” that was also made in ruby.

Happy Go Lucky is arguably one of the most recognized jazz compositions. I was reminded of the song by the jaunty facial features and hat of the decanter.

And for the sixth choice Bluesette, a tribute to its composer, the great Toots Thielemans who has written and played harmonica and guitar on many jazz classics.

Wayne’s vintage designs at Blenko in the 50s and 60s were created in the same era that Be-bop jazz was at its height of popularity. The 1950s era for art and design is popular once again, and is called Mid-century modern or “Mid to Mod.”

Each Jazz in Glass piece will be numbered and signed by Wayne Husted with a diamond pen, and come with a Certificate of Authenticity.