Glass Paperweights

Do you have a paperweight, glass or other material, in your home? Do you use a paperweight?

I was on the phone with my sister and asking her if anyone still uses paperweights.  She told me I had the New York Historical Society book on glass paperweights in my house. She was right.  I found it easily on a bookshelf in the little used third floor. The author is Paul M. Hollister

“Author, lecturer, and painter Paul Hollister (1918-2004) was one of the foremost scholars of 17th to 19th century glass studies, glass paperweights, and contemporary studio art glass. Hollister’s interest in glass was sparked when, upon the death of his mother, he inherited 10 paperweights she had collected during her travels in Europe” – Corning Museum of Glass Website

I knew I had a paperweight in the dining room cabinet. It had belonged to my parents.

How they make glass paperweights is fascinating to me.  If you have any interest in how they are made, the history and popularity of paperweights, the various types, how to look for identifying markers, and other information about collecting them there is a wonderful article by Carleigh Queenth     Collecting Paperweights:7 things to know 

Millefiori or ‘thousand flowers’ canes are produced by layering molten glass into a pattern in a fat cylindrical shape, then pulling the cylinder to create an elongated pencil-thin rod. When the rod is sliced, the pattern can be seen in the cross section. “ -Carleigh Queenth (Head of Ceramics and Glass, Christie’s NY @breakingisbad on Instagram)

See the Paperweights of the World collection at the Corning Museum of Glass here 

Here is a paperweight from my parents.



The book my sister knew I had in my possession. She was correct

There is a second paperweight in my house that my sister bought for my son Matthew, a dandelion gone to seed, encased in a half globe of clear plastic.

16 thoughts on “Glass Paperweights

  1. I definitely remember my parents having a few.. not as pretty as the ones in the pictures. Maybe I’ll look for them during the quarantine.

  2. Ruth, to answer your questions:

    Do you have a paperweight, glass or other material, in your home? Do you use a paperweight?

    Yes, we have a solid plastic cube paperweight about 2 inches on each side that we keep on our computer desk, and it’s on the desk in front of me right now. We use it to put on top of receipts that need to be entered into our Excel spreadsheet. (My wife and I have a very complete Excel spreadsheet that goes back almost seven years.) What is most interesting is that the object inside of the clear plastic cube is none other than a dandelion, very similar to the one in your photos. We’ve had it for more than 30 years. I even had it on my desk when I worked in New Jersey, and it’s sort of a conversation piece. The reason it’s a conversation piece is because people speculate on how it was made. I don’t know, but if anyone who follows you knows the answer, I’d love to know. The question is how do you take something as extremely fragile as a dandelion and pour either molten glass or molten plastic over it without destroying it?

    • What a wonderful story you are sharing today, Ken. Perhaps someone can tell us how the impossible is accomplished. It seems the delicate dandelion would collapse but it does not in both of our paperweights.
      Another friend emailed two photos of her glass paperweights they use as doorstoppers. Thanks for writing. Hopefully we will learn the secret. I am fascinated by the milliflori method too and how the curve of the glass magnifies the colorful designs.

      • Hi Ruth, Thanks for the “Craft Klatch” video on youtube. I watched it carefully, and I was surprised that, on the second attempt, the dandelion was able to retain its shape after being gently pressed into the resin. I didn’t think dandelions were that sturdy. In fact, when I had the paperweight on my desk at work, I would often ask people how they thought it was made. Most people figured that the dandelion would have to first be frozen solid using dry ice beforehand. That’s what I thought too. Apparently we were wrong. 🙂

        By the way, we have two of those paperweights, not just one, and my wife pointed out that we’ve actually had them since right after we got married, which was way back in 1971. I emailed you a few photos of the paperweights. You might notice that there are some air bubbles caught inside the resin, just like in the “Craft Klatch” video.

        Thanks again, and keep up the terrific photos.

  3. Lovely post Ruth. I have several paperweights and use them when I am working on something and have the windows open. I have two i bought as a child, a red one and the next year at the same venue, our town show (many agriculture). They have a shattered glass effect inside. I was fascinated by them. I din’t use them as paperweights then, but as ornaments, watching how they caught the light. Thanks.

  4. The only “paperweights” we have in our house are no-longer-used items: old laptops, cell phones, and the like. Hardly coffee-table-book-worthy.

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