MILTON, W.Va. (AP) — Continuing a long tradition of engaging exceptional designers, Blenko Glass, of Milton, has joined forces with a dynamic new design team of Emma Walters and Andrew Shaffer, according to Dean Six, vice president of marketing for Blenko Glass.

Blenko has been handcrafting glass since 1893 and hired its first designer, Winslow Anderson, in 1947. The position has been held by an impressive succession of who's who in glass since Anderson's time, according to Six.

"The hiring of these two young talents continues that tradition," Six said in a prepared release. "Upon accepting the full time positions as Blenko designers, Walters and Shaffer add to the glass company's design legacy. They bring a powerful blend of academic and design experience accompanied by practical hot glass knowledge."

Walters is a central Pennsylvania native who received her art degree from Maryland Institute College of Art before studying at VSUP in Prague in the Czech Republic. She has traveled the world on a cruise ship presenting glass blowing demonstrations. From Australia to Alaska and beyond, Walters was an employee of world renowned Corning Museum of Glass and their Hot Glass Roadshow.

Additionally, Walters has worked in places and with glass masters that include some of the world's best. She has worked with glass master Martin Janecky, Pablo Soto, Gianni Toso and Sonja Blomdahl. She has made glass at prestigious locations including Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina, The Pittsburgh Glass Center, Haystack School of Crafts in Maine and Pilchuck Glass School in Washington state.

Shaffer hails from Downingtown, Pennsylvania, and studied Furniture Design and Sculpture at Kutztown University. He first encountered hot glass in a public arts facility in Reading, Pennsylvania, and then worked in several glass studios in that area. He received his art degree from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. While a student he continued to work at a number of hot glass facilities in the Philadelphia area.

Shaffer worked as a design and production liaison for Simon Pierce in Vermont and then at a secession of other hot glass houses in the New York and eastern United States with projects that included modern hand-blown lighting.

"His work with design and hands on skills crafting hot glass gives him a much desired skill set," Six said in the release.

Shaffer and Walters joined forces to launch their own hot glass studio specializing in high quality art glass and architectural lighting in 2014, Six added.

"From their hot glass studio in the Finger Lakes region of New York State they specialized in producing high quality, specialized glass that included architectural lighting," he said. "They joined Blenko at the first of October and have claimed the onsite Blenko design studio as their workshop."

"I am inspired to work with the talented Blenko glass team, combining traditional techniques with modern ideas to create new glass works in the brilliant Blenko colors that are impossible to ignore," Walters said.

"I feel honored to design for the Blenko Glass Company. I am excited to collaborate with such a knowledgeable and skilled team enabling conceptual ideas to be executed by hands and minds steeped in years of artistry and experience," Schaffer said. "I am grateful for this opportunity to carry on not only the West Virginia tradition of hand crafted glass, but to build upon and contribute to America's oldest industry."

Shaffer says the couple looks forward to exploring Blenko's traditional glass designs as well as creating new handcrafted items.

"We are diligent at present working to creating a line of holiday items for immediate production as well as developing new items and line for release in early 2018," he said. "The holiday items include candleholders, a snowman vase and other limited edition items that will be available starting on Monday."

"The future is bright as they look to new ideas, a new color, practical beverage and serving ware, exploring options for Blenko designed and made lighting and more," Six said. "Assuredly decades of success will be repeated from the hot glass tanks in Milton."

For more information or to order products online, visit blenko.com.

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