Art Glass Paperweights of the Alien Kind

   Posted by: BJ Johnson in sculpture

While the cold-working is progressing on the new wine stoppers and small paperweights, I thought I'd share a bit about the Great Paperweight Project. A friend of ours, Jon Ramer, has been encouraging us to get into the Art Glass Marble market for some time. A few months ago, he invested in our effort, funding the first 40 or so marbles to get things going. He has pick of ten of his choosing, but has yet to tag any.

As you may have learned by this time, I do things big. Wasn't intentional this time, as we were making marbles of less than 2" diameter. Trouble is, molten crystal is the consistency of warm honey. It doesn't thinly coat—it coats! Even if starting an internal color structure wee small, by the time you get two or three over-gathers, you're up to a 3" ball right quick.

In the spirit of "making lemonade" when one got to be too large I just went with it to see what would happen. Had a difficult time controlling the thing after it came out of the furnace coated with a thick, gooey layer of 2,200° crystal, because I went in too hot, stayed at the party too long and nearly lost the whole thing to the shop floor on the way to the bench.

Once I got it under control and blocked (blocks are large, shaped green cherry wood ladle-looking tools that are kept wet so that when they touch the hot glass, they create steam that protects the wood from combusting in your hand) the internal structure of color was just amazing.

Totally unexpected in its shape and convolutions but the size was too large for the paperweights that we were making and the shape wasn't responding the way that I had intended. Oh, well. Went with it again and began listening to what the glass wanted. A number of reheats and shapings later, I got to what seemed like a good stopping point and stopped to rest; slowly rolling the puntil back and forth on the bench rails while the work cooled enough to place it into the annealer. From across the shop, Joy exclaimed:

"It looks like an alien brain!"

It did.
The name stuck.
The line of Alien Brainz was born.

So far, we've got twelve in the shop. I can't wait to make more to develop new formulae and techniques but they are in the upper ranges of the price scale, being so large and unique, so only the discriminating collectors choose them over a more mainstream design and size. Darn cool, though.

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One Response to Art Glass Paperweights of the Alien Kind


    I think that getting into working with paper weights is a great idea. It is amazing how much of these are ind emand!

    August 3, 2011 at 1:58 pm
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