I woke up this morning early, so like many of us do I checked Facebook on my phone. Imagine my delight when I discovered a new post from the wonderful Paul Stankard, who creates true magic with his marvelous glass paperweights.
Originally blowing glass to make scientific instruments, Stankard, whose driving desire was to “be on the creative side and do what he loves”, started producing glass paperweights in his garage while working in industry to support his growing family. It was when Stankard displayed his early paperweights at a craft exhibit on the boardwalk of Atlantic City, New Jersey that an internationally respected art dealer saw his work and sponsored Stankard financially to move full-time into making glass art. Now they sell for thousands – and good luck to him! He deserves every cent.
You can hear Paul and watch him work here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvMAOPdhyvc
In the early 1960s, paperweights made by other Americans showcased brightly colored “crafty” type flowers that were not botanically accurate. Stankard labored to make his glass floral designs look more natural and more botanically lifelike.
His glass flowers were so real looking that many people mistakenly thought that he had found a way to encase actual flowers in glass.
Soon thereafter, paperweight makers (mostly American) were following Stankard’s lead.
Stankard, who is now an internationally acclaimed artist, is largely credited with changing the status of glass paperweights from that of “craft” to that of “fine art”. Among many other museums, his work is exhibited at The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC; the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and the Musée du Louvre in Paris; the Victoria & Albert Museum in London; The Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York; the WheatonArts and Cultural Center in New Jersey; and the Wiener Museum of Decorative Arts in Florida.
Of course, paperweights are not really something that glass slumpers like me do … it requires glass blowing. Stankard is absolutely the father of modern glass paperweights, especially those that accurately depict flowers and insects.
I’ve had a go at paperweight making though, at the marvellous Canberra Glassworks, where friendly volunteers and staff will be delighted to help you enjoy a “hands on” experience actually making your own paperweight.
You can see my effort on the left. They let you choose your own colours to suit your personal sense of style and your home or office decor.
Here you can see a photograph of hubby Stephen enthusiastically making his own paperweight. His excitement is undoubtedly because paperweights are something of an obsession for him – he has a large collection. And his enthusiasm with glass pre-dates going out with me, by the way!
He started collecting paperweights from the famous Caithness Glass makers in Scotland long go.
The Glassworks is just another reason to visit Australia’s impressive purpose-built capital, as if the thought-provoking and educational National War Memorial, Parliament House, the National Gallery of Australia and the adjoining High Court of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Library, and so much more.
Not to mention how attractive Canberra is in itself, with the impressive Lake Burley Griffin at its heart.
Be sure to see the white Carillon Tower which was a gift from the British government on Canberra’s 50th birthday in 1963.
The 50-meter-high tower incorporates three sleek columns clad in opal chip and quartz.
Within the towers are 55 bronze bells ranging from seven kilograms to six metric tons.
On a warm day – not that common in Canberra! – you can bring a picnic and relax on the surrounding lawns. Better still, visit during a recital (Wednesdays and Sundays from 12:30 to 1:20pm), when the music of the bells wafts across the lake.
And the tower looks especially beautiful when lit at night.
Here’s just a small portion of Stephen’s paperweight collection at home. They’re everywhere in our home!
Do you love paperweights, too?
I’d really love to see a photo of your favourite. Remember you can always email me them directly to me, or chat about anything else, at [email protected].
Also, my glass making workshops are now back up and running post Covid (fingers crossed!) so if you’re nearby and want to come along just book in now. Bookings are busy (we’re all feeling released) so don’t delay.
As always, thanks for reading!
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