The most popular question asked about paperweights is, How are they made? In order to create a paperweight, an artist must master many different techniques. These photos show some artists at work.
The photo on the left shows artist Drew Ebelhare in the process of creating a millefiori rod to be used in his paperweights. The glass on the end of his rod is shaped into a pattern by dipping it in a metal mold, say for example, in the shape of a star. Hell take the glowing glass on the end of the rod and stretch it by pulling on both sides to create a long rod with a small diameter. While the canes diameter shrinks, it retains its shape. This process of stretching the glass allows the artist to create a cane with a lot of intricate detail in a small size. When the rod cools it will be cut into slices to include in a weight.
On the right is one of Drews pieces entitled Millefiori Valentine.
The photo on the left shows Parabelle Glass artists Gary and Doris Scrutton at work in their high-tech studio. Gary is heating a paperweight on the end of a pontil rod in an oven. Glass cracks if it cools too quickly, so paperweight artists heat their pieces many times during the process. They also heat the glass to keep it in a malleable molten state so they can work with it.
On the right is the Parabelle Glass Triple weight. Parabelle Glass demonstrates their skill in this piece, actually three paperweights fused together, entitled Triple weight.
This is a close-up of a paperweight being heated in the glory hole. They are generally kept at temperatures around 3000 degrees.
On the right artist Rick Ayotte is creating a flower with glass rods using a torch. This process, called lampwork, requires exceptional talent.
The photo on the left shows Ayotte employing his lampwork skill to create this ocean scene, entitled Midnight Blue.
On the left Randall Grubb shows the encasement process, putting the lampwork or millefiori inside crystal, is one of the most dramatic parts of the creation process. He then heats the crystal with a torch to keep it molten as he works it around the design.
The design on the right features a unique cylindrical encasement that Grubb pioneered for his Reflections series.
The photo on the left shows David Salazar about to knock a paperweight off a pair of pontil rods into a weighting glove. The weight will be placed in a hot oven for at least 24 hours, where its temperature can be slowly dropped. If a weight isnt cooled slowly, it cracks.
On the right, a group shot of David Salazars weights gives you an idea what the successful finished product looks like.
On the left artist Steven Lundberg gathers a ball of crystal on the end of a pontil rod. Working with molten glass is often compared to a dance because artists need to keep moving the glass on the rod to maintain control of it. Its easy to overlook the difficulties involved with working in a hot liquid medium, such as glass. This picture gives a good idea of the pressures glass artists face.
On the right is an example of a finished piece from Lundberg Studios.