As someone who used to smoke socially, I understand the mystique of the cigarette. There is something very old Hollywood about smoking. The long contemplative drag on a Marlboro. The rude exhalation into an unwelcome face. The seductive ritual of lighting someone else's Lucky Strike. So electric. And yet, I also like breathing.
So I gave up smoking of any kind many years ago. Except on rare occasions when I am super stressed or super intoxicated. But I'm way off subject now. I wish I still smoked because I am obsessed with Blenko ashtrays. My friend Scott, who introduced me to the highly competitive world of thrift shopping for mid century modern, claims never to pick ash trays of any kind. I completely understand that point of view. Or at least I did, until I got my first Blenko piece.
There is something supremely tactile and visually appealing about Blenko ashtrays. Whether one of Winslow Anderson's early free-form shapes, one of Joel Myers or Wayne Husted's crazy geometric shapes, or one of John Nickerson's later graphic representations, they all appeal to me. The secret lies in the chunky thickness of the glass. The way it catches and refracts light, the way the depth of color seems to change throughout the ashtray, it's stunning. Blenko ashtrays are heavy, massive, unsubtle hunks of glass. They don't seek to hide one's bad habit. They scream from the mountain tops: a smoker lives here, dammit!
Of course, when you're not a smoker, you have to think of something else to do with the ashtrays. I have repurposed mine for various functions. To hold Christmas ornaments at the holidays, small gourds and pumpkins at Halloween, napkins for a cocktail party, or candy and nuts for anytime. If I were the sort of person who enjoyed potpourri, I might even use them for that. But I am not.
But you already knew that.