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2013 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


Cameo glass is a form of glass art that is produced by etching and carving through fused layers of different colored glass to produce wonderful designs. This is usually done with white opaque glass figures and motifs on a dark-colored background. The technique was first seen in Roman Art of around 30 B.C.   The glass medium allows consistent and predictable colored layers, even for round objects.

In the mid-19th century there was a revival of cameo glass, who doesn’t love the the French Art Nouveau practiced by Emile Galle and the pieces signed Duam Nancy. I could spend days looking at Galle and Nancy cameo glass pieces but the Cameo glass I want to introduce you to are the Cameo Paperweights that have been made in the past 25 years (known as modern paperweights) and are still being produced today.

In the modern revival of cameo glass paperweights all of the top layer except the areas needed for the design are usually removed by an etching process — the figure areas are covered with a resistant layer of wax or some other acid-resistant material such as bituminous paint, and the blank repeatedly dipped in hydrofluoric acid, so that cameo glass is in some sense an acid etched glass. Some artist use a sand blasting technique. The detailed work is then done with wheels and drills, before finishing, and usually polishing.   It seems that in the ancient world the entire process of removing the unwanted white or other top layer was done by drills and wheels — wheel-cut decoration on glass of a single color was very common in ancient Rome. In the case of “three-layer” (or three-color) cameo, there is another layer of glass on top of the white opaque one, and further layers are possible. One Roman piece uses a record six layers.   It is not known where the ancient pieces were produced, but for want of any better suggestion most scholars think it is  likely that at least the making of the blanks was initially in the hands of imported Syrian glass-workers.

Some of the more common pieces found today are works by Barry Sautner.  Also pieces by Kelsey at the Pilgrim Glass Studio are very familiar to collectors of cameo glass paperweights.

Barry Sautner,  1952 – 2009

A beautiful cameo paperweight done by Barry with retail value listed at $9000.00. This is known as the “Lily” Sautner weight. Made at the Sautner Glass Studio in the 1980s.

     Vandermark-Merritt 1982 green cameo cut glass paperweight by Barry Sautner. Retail value $1200.00.

 

 

 

 

Barry R. Sautner, a nationally recognized glass artist, formerly of Flemington, passed away suddenly on June 30, 2009 at his home in Vero Beach FL. He was 57.

Barry was born to Elva and Alfred C. Sautner in Philadelphia in 1952, and later moved to the Flemington area, where he lived for nearly 30 years before relocating to Florida.

His background as a glass-blower in New Jersey for nearly 10 years was fueled by a passion to explore glass as a means of artistic expression. But after an illness forced him out of the sweltering heat of the furnace room, he found he had artistic visions yet to be fully realized in glass.

“Glass has always been my canvas and my voice,” Saunter said. In describing his artistic passion, he said, “In my carvings, I attempt to express my innermost feelings which for me, are difficult to express verbally. Major themes in my work have included the environment, beauty, nature, mythology, and the spiritual nature of man as well as people’s struggles with themselves. I’ve attempted to bring the past into the present and future by developing methods that challenge me to take glass carving beyond its acknowledged limits. In addition, I create each piece with a great degree of fine detail, hoping to involve and captivate the viewer with the piece and the message contained therein. I sincerely hope that my art will represent to the viewer something more than virtuoso carving.”

Beginning with shallow surface relief designs, Sautner continued to test the depths of the glass. The deeply undercut methods of the Romans were catapulted into the modern age, as the artist introduced a sand-blasting method of his own, called insculpture. Using his invention, he could hollow out an interior image in clear glass blanks. This resulted in infrastructures, previously thought to be impossible.

But Sautner saw the image inside, and revealed it to be possible. It is a remarkable skill to visualize and create an artwork in three dimensions, and the extractive methods Sautner had made his own, amaze even the most well-versed in glass art techniques. Technique aside, however, the complex, personal symbolism of Sautner’s artwork seems more daunting. He kept notebooks to record dreams at his bedside, thoughts that rushed to him at odd moments in the day.

“My work doesn’t come from my mind,” he explained to those close to him. “It comes from my heart, my feelings, my emotions. There are many times when I will sit down and just draw, then only through finishing it, realize that it’s symbolic of what is going on in my life. If you look closely at each piece you will see much hidden detail. If you look closer yet, you will see its meaning.”

Sautner’s willingness to explore monumental themes: emotions, philosophies and life transitions, speaks to people because his art’s scale is approachable and intimate. The proximity of the viewer to the piece creates an exchange on a personal level. Inspired as he was by the delicacy of ancient Roman diatreta, and the demure qualities of cameo carving, one can immediately appreciate Sautner’s skill. The complex framework of the works shows balance and sophisticated sculptural sensibilities, but their fragile nature belies their poise. Sautner removed layers, uncovered truths, and carved so deeply into this glass skin, one may see a tremulous heartbeat in each piece.

My inlaws live in Vero Beach Fl and while visiting my wife made a trip to the Sautner Studio.  She just went on and on about it.  I can see why.

Kelsey Murphy at  Pilgrim Cameo Studios- Ceredo, West Virginia – c. 1980′s – 2001

Under the direction of Kelsey Murphy, Pilgrim Glass introduced a line of cameo glass in the 1980′s. Cased glass is carved through a sandblasting process, to reveal the desired color and design. The designs are Murphy’s own pictorial scenes. All pieces are signed by Kelsey. Most are issued in limited editions and numbered.

Check out these pieces being offered at an on-line auction as well as prices actually sold for (after 4/15/2012).

Titled “Crowning Wish”. This is a 5 color cameo, very difficult to make. Signed by Kelsey Murphy. Retail value listed at $4000.00 to $7000.00.

Titled “Fall Gum” . This is a three color cameo signed by Kelsey Murphy. Retail value listed at $2000.00 to $3500.00. 

This is a 2 color weight called the Fern weight by Kelsey Murphy with a listed retail of $400.00 to $700.00.

 

 

 

I have tried to show you at least three of the different priced Kelsy cameo weights so that you have an idea of the values as compared to the amount of work and the rarity of the peice.  One thing for sure is that there seems to be an abundance of the Pilgrim Glass Studios work marketed.  However, since they are closed that may not last long.  If you want such a weight NOW is the time to buy it!  You can attend an online auction on April 14, 2012 at this address: http://www.liveauctioneers.com/catalog/29022_kelsey-murphy-cameo-glass-auction/page1  or you can check after the sale date to see what the pieces actually sold for.

Another interesting cameo artist I have found is Joye Colbeck. Joye is a glass artist located in the UK. On a recent weblog I found the following info that she shared with us. (quote) “I make my work infrequently and make for my own enjoyment. Many glass artists are quitting due to the high prices of fuel and the worldwide recession, but I’m hanging on in there because I love the process too much to see sense!. I intend to make a living from glass making again someday but since a motorbike accident I’ve struggled with a very painful arm. I blow cased vessels which are then etched to leave the design in relief on the surface. I put my pieces on sale, I’m always hoping to cover the cost of my materials, if they go for more then it’s something towards my time. If you like my work, pay what you can to support my future endeavors. I am in the process of setting up my own website to share more of what I do. Recent shoulder surgery has delayed this but I’m on the mend so it shouldn’t be long now. It has also kept me from the glassmakers chair thus the need to blow and feel the heat of the molten material is spurring on my attempts at recovery”.

I have purchased, owned and sold a few of the Colbeck weights.  They are certainly cameo in nature however probably more of a carved weight using a sandblasting technique.  I love her work. She is just great!

   SOLD!  This was a beautiful Blue glass weight of birds and trees hand carved and signed by Joye.

Made of purple glass and then hand carved.  Signed on the base in script Joye Colbeck, PPWT2, 2/50, 2009.  Currently listed in my eBay store Kelekchens.

 

 

 

 

I hope Joye is well and continues to make her excellent weights however I have not seen anything recently made or listed for sale.  They may be now hard to find.  Check for yourself.

As many of my followers and readers know, I do collect paperweights and have a fairly substantial collection of glass weights.  My collection mostly is of American artist from the 1970s – 1990s.  I have always been a huge fan of Orient & Flume, Lundberg Studios and Lotton Studios to name a few.  I love the aurene and irridescent styles that were made by these studios.  I have tried to write a pretty exhaustive article on Orient & Flume paperweights simply because it is an interesting story and the O&F studio contracted so many artist over the years. I continue to add to the Orient & Flume blog with new purchases and new sales.  Even after 35 years of collecting and paying attention to Orient & Flume’s work I still get an occasional surprise, and here is another.  I never considered that O&F would have a cameo glass weight.

   In a dust free case. Of course!   

     Ahh! There it is! The detailed carving of the surface ie; leaves and flower petals was done with a scrimshaw tool, by hand.

     This is actually a three color cameo  (two greens on white base) that has also been hand worked and polished. All exquisite hand made glass details.

 Signed by Dan Shura, 1983

    Created for and marketed by Orient & Flume Studios in Chico, CA  1983

 

 

 

 

Having collected the Orient & Flume weights for a very long time this is the very first O&F Cameo Glass weight I have seen.  Unlike other studios that I have listed above who have focused specifically on cameo weights this one is a rarity!  A very unique paperweight done by Dan for Orient and Flume.  If you would like to know more about Dan Shura be sure to read my previous blog on Orient & Flume.  Also, be sure to look at two weights that are currently for sale at the official O&F website.  Current retail prices are $2500.00 – $3000.00.  Go here:  http://www.orientandflume.com/Categories/Paperweights.aspx?sortorder=1&page=4  Listed as the Engraved Fox and the Engraved Wren.

You can find this Orient & Flume paperweight done by Dan Shura in my eBay store.  Put your cursor on my assistant, the Duck, double click and you are there.  Thanks for reading my blog and until next time Happy Collecting and remember “The best is yet to come”.


You might think that after writing the articles about Steven Lundberg and Orient and Flume that  I would consider the last of the top three American Art Glass Studios, Charles Lotton in Crete Illinois. Although Lotton glass is very collectible, the studio I have chosen to write about is quite unfamiliar to most, even to the collectors who specialize in paperweights from the 1970 – 1990  time period.  Many paperweight collectors are not familiar with the Intaglio Levay Glass Studio that was once located in a defunct schoolhouse in Alton, Illinois, only a few hundred miles from Charles Lotton. There is a wealth of information about this studio, some factual and some very “bizarre” as many from the midwest would say. It is a story filled with some mystery and innuendo collected second hand by me.  Much of this information has been digested by me and regurgitated with my own spin or take on the events. That is to say that the conclusions are my own.

Intaglio Glass Studios (and a few other names) was the brainchild of Gary Levi.  His history is both interesting and controversial depending on who you talk to but not in question is the exquisite “cypriote”, Tiffany style, iridescent paperweights that he marketed.  The most interesting features of the work are the shapes and colors of the creations.  Although Gary’s studio  was never truly “discovered”  as an art glass paperweight collector I consider the glass paperweights to be exceptional although it can and has been said that his business acumen was dismal, but that was not for lack of effort.

Gary Levi was born in 1945 and by the age of 10 realized he wanted to be in the merchandising business. Gary’s original family name was Levay which is Hungarian. An ancestor changed the name from Levay to Levi in the late 1800s. In 1964 Gary Levi was employed as a railroad clerk and became interested in antiques. I met Gary Levi on a hot summer day at an estate auction in the Quincy, Illinois area. I was in my mid 20′s at the time, an avid but with limited funds, Victorian furniture enthusiast.  I was serving in the military and home on leave visiting my parents who were both collectors of fine antiques. As usual for us going to huge farm auctions and estate sales in the Midwest was an all day affair where you could visit with neighbors, old acquaintances and get caught up on all the latest gossip.  Lunch was always served and usually homemade. My mother who grew up on a farm in the area, knew all of the families, so when their estates were liquidated she knew just about what the inventory for auction would be and which sales had the nicest pieces.  Getting stupendous “finds” on the cheap were common. I remember buying a small signed Tiffany vase for 50 cents.

At this particular estate sale, Gary came to the auction near the end of the day when the furniture was being sold. He was a short but stout man in his mid to late thirties, auburn red hair, freckles and although he didn’t have a commanding presence he no doubt was very sure of himself and it showed in how he conducted his business.  There was a very large assortment of antique furniture and Gary bought most of it at what I considered to be very high prices.  My mother, always the teacher, explained to me that Gary Levi would buy furniture, load it into his large, white, horse trailer and haul it to the west coast to sell to dealers for a profit. It was obvious to me that those few who just wanted this piece or that for their home and from this estate were pretty put out with the price run up by Gary and especially disappointed that they didn’t get that piece they had their heart set on. This kind of business by Gary would in my opinion later damage his business reputation.  Even today I find that many who knew Gary or of Gary are critical of his business transactions and how he managed his business. He was aggressive and most likely had a Type A personality.

Little did I know at that time that Gary’s true love was art glass. Or even that he would later become a glass artisan or that he was a successful glass distributor.  In my research I had found information that he had opened his first store in 1966. I am not sure if that was an antique store or a glass store but it is noted that he started selling fine quality giftware, limited editions through a mail order business.  His idea was to provide a quality product to glass dealers at reasonable prices. Gary was in contact with different glass companies and would request that a certain amount of an item be made (limited editions), then he would wholesale that glass to dealers. The deal became more profitable when the glass companies agreed to prepackage the limited editions and ship directly to the dealer (drop shipping). Gary was a distributor for many of the major glass companies.  So you can see that really he had a good thing going at a period when mail order was big business and drop shipping as well as personal branding was virtually unheard of. His operation was based in the midwest around Edwardsville Il.  I have found quite a number of advertisements in the newspapers for his Gift glass in the small towns surrounding Edwardsville.

Gary Levi had a long connection with the Fenton Art Glass company that began in the 1970′s. This eventually led to his buying of Fenton cullet when his glass studio needed glass to make their own glass creations. This is not an unusual arrangement. Many glass studio artist purchase cullet from major glass companies to use in their own creations rather than making glass from scratch. Gary had Fenton make several runs of carnival glass for his company. The unique aspect of this arrangement being that the colors used were not a part of Fenton’s regular line.  Fenton, Westmoreland, Imperial, Crescent Glass and L.E. Smith all pressed glass for Gary Levi and his Limited Edition Glass mail order business. Most of this glass was signed by the glass company but only a few had a Levay logo pressed into it or otherwise marked as Levay Glass (branding). Some of the pieces of carnival glass were made by Westmoreland as well. Most of the art glass pieces were made by Imperial. The newer items 1980 – 1990 were signed and also numbered. So you will still find art glass pieces not signed but marketed by Levay. I often see these pieces advertised as experimental pieces made by Levay but they were not  made by his glass studio really. This causes some confusion and doubt in my mind on just whether or not Gary Levi ever handled any “hot” glass.  Did he personally handle and make these paperweights I have collected?  It is a good question and hard to answer.

There also seems to be some speculation about whether or not Levay had purchased glass molds from Westmoreland Glass. Westmoreland stopped producing glass in 1984 and closed their doors. Are these molds in the old Alton schoolhouse where Gary had his glass operations until the mid 1990′s?

I think it is important to mention that there were probably many who felt that Gary Levi was a usurper of the collectible glass from the well-known glass houses he dealt with.  As a collector and talking with many collectors, being taken with a reproduction, fake or fantasy piece is always a concern. An example would be Nippon. Nipponears are very loyal to the items they collect. In the 1970′s there were many knockoffs or fakes imported from China that actually had Nippon clearly stamped on them.  This caused much confusion and consternation among Nippon collectors and to this day I get emails from people who ask me. “Is this a real piece of Nippon”? Or a better example is the Galle reproductions made in China that clearly mimic the beautiful lamps and glass works made by Emil Galle in the 1920s. They even have the exact Galle signature carved into them.  This has definitely depressed the prices of even original Galle glass.  However, with any repro or fantasy piece, if you have ever owned an original and held it in your hands the fantasy pieces become easier to recognize. Now put yourself in the genre of being a Fenton glass collector in the 1980s.  You buy a beautiful piece of art glass that has the Fenton logo on it only to find out it also has this ugly frog looking logo on it. What is that anyway? Must be a manufacturing defect! Nope, it was marketed by Levay Distributing also known as the Intaglio Levay Glass Company. If you are a collector of any original period items I know you understand what I am saying. Remember that this is before anybody was doing personal branding that today is an everyday occurrence, think generic drugs etc. All of that is personal branding and huge in the business arena today. Gary was certainly ahead of the power curve and of his time in marketing and manufacturing collectible glass. Was he a marketing guru, a glass maker, both or none of the above?  The failure or success of his glass studio tells at least part of the real story.

In 1984 Gary Levi stopped having Limited Edition carnival glass made under the name of Levay.  I believe his base was in  Alton Il. There is a short article in Glass Review, November 1984,  p. 32 that notes the Victorian Art Glass Company and states that it is a subsidiary of the Levay Distributing Company and so the confusing and often criticized business saga of Gary Levi’s Intaglio Levay Glass begins.  An ad in the February 1985 issue of Glass Review also states that Gary Levi started making his own glass on October 11, 1984. This date coincides with the purchase of some glass making machinery by Gary and I am sure is when he registered his glass studio as a business.  At this time I believe he his business location was in Alton on Wood River. It wasn’t until 1990 that he purchased an old schoolhouse in Alton Il to use for his operations. Known locally as the Milton Schoolhouse, the building itself has quite a reputation including even ghost that haunt the property. I came across an article in the Alton newspaper stating that in November 1991 Gary Levi actually purchased the Milton Schoolhouse and was building a new 10000 square foot receiving warehouse for his distributing operation. The schoolhouse was listed as having 50000 square feet.  I think you will agree that is a substantial size property for glass making and marketing.  The article also noted that Levay had approximately 100 employees and five glass artisans or makers.  I wish I could tell you who those five were but at this time I don’t know. One might have been Susan Carr.  In other articles I had seen some hiring ads.  Gary was looking for employees for assembly and the ad states that they did gluing of glass pieces together.

Gary Levi had many registered business names and he wore many hats. The only question is was one of those hats “a hands on glass maker?” It was in 1990 that Gary purchased from a Michael Ladd a business called Intaglio Designs Ltd.  The business agreement was quite involved and complicated. The purchase price is public knowledge and registered at $277,983.18. In addition, Michael Ladd became an employee as a Vice President of the new company with a three year contract, a salary and five years of payments from Levay. The contract basically lasted from 1991 to 1997.  The purchase involved 490 shares of  privately held stock by Levay. Gary also had investors and I have seen a copy of a document where at least one investor put up $100,000.00. That is a lot of zero’s for the 1980s. I am sure there were many others of less denominations. The company never went public it was all private stock.  Any person who has owned a business understands the impact investors can have on your business.  Although investors are not normally involved with the daily operations of the business they certainly have the power to decide how profits are spent and losses are handled. It is obvious to me that Gary was advancing to the next level in the early 1990′s in his business operation so it must have been quite profitable to be able to fund those kind of numbers.

My own personal history of collecting paperweights became intermingled with Gary Levi when I received a beautiful and very unusual art glass paperweight as a birthday gift given to me from my wife. It was my fortieth birthday.  At the time and for many years we did not know who the maker of this beautiful paperweight was although it did have a stylized mark pressed on the base. It wasn’t until much later I learned that it came from the Levay studio and I was hooked.  From that time on I have collected these unique paperweights marketed by this studio and have built a respectable collection. It was also at this time that I started researching and collecting information about Gary Levi and Levay.

                                                                      

The first of many. This paperweight is a pearlized white with iridescent cobalt threads across the top. Absolutely my wife’s favorite.  Size is 3 1/4 inches and weight is 1 lb. 3.2 oz. Marked with the Intaglio Levay mark impressed into the glass in the concave base. Purchased in 1992 at June’s Antiques in Quincy IL.,  across from Baldwin Park on the downtown square.

 

I gave you the exact location because right next door to June’s Antiques was another antique store. Gary Levi’s Antique Furniture Store! It had been there for many years and although I had wandered around inside admiring the antique furniture I am sure I never saw any glass being displayed or sold!

In collecting Intaglio Levay paperweights I have come across many Levay art glass creations. To name a few, bowls, vases, oil lamps, glass orbs or witch balls and garden stones. I have found that often the sellers of these objects have no idea who made it or where it came from. Some confuse the paperweights with the garden stone glass decorations. 

In addition to paperweights marked Levay there are paperweights marked Intaglio Anton which were also marketed by Levay Distributing. Susan Anton Carr was and is a glass designer and my understanding, was a designer for Gary Levi designing many of  the creations that were made. She did a wonderful job!  The color, creativity and styles for the period are second to none in my opinion.  Were these beautiful paperweights made at Gary’s glass studio in Alton Il. specifically for Levay?

I have counted six different Levay markings on these paperweights. The markings can also help to date a paperweight, for instance a certain mark might indicate pre-Alton.  Gary did market glass in Edwardsville, IL prior to the Alton studio and I believe I have a piece or two made after he abandoned the Alton studio.  Below you will find a few that I have and what I believe is the date and place made:

                                                                

A Levay Hanging Hearts paperweight signed on the bottom LV-132 probably made prior to the Intaglio name being registered.

 

 

                                                            

 

 

 

The person I purchased this from did not know the name and when I told them it was made from Fenton cullet they said “Oh, I just love Fenton glass!”  Hand signed Levay and dated 1985.

                                                           

 

 

 

A very nice crackle glass paperweight marked Intaglio Anton. Designed by Susan Anton Carr.

                                                                                                                                             

         Amazing Colors!  The paperweight has the stylized Intaglio Levay mark on the base.

 

 

    

     Marked with an imprinted LEVAY no other marks. Was this paperweight made by one of Gary’s five glass artisans at Alton?

 

              

 

  Here is another Intaglio Anton weight.

 

 

 

 A hollow paperweight with the Intaglio Levay stylelized logo.

 

 

 

  Marked with the stylelized logo. I love the shapes and styles of these paperweights.

 

 

 

 

   Gorgeous Intaglio Anton.

 

 

 

 

   

 

 Small Intaglio Anton

  

 

 Excellent MINT condition. Have you ever seen more beautiful paperweights? Hot stamped LEVAY, no other markings.

 

 

 

  Same size and shape as the weight above but with a different marking. This one is Intaglio Anton.

 

 

 

 

    One has pink threads and the other blue threads. The threads are iridescent. Both weights are marked Intaglio Anton.

 

 

 

 

 

  A wonderful blue crackle glass weight marked Intaglio Anton.

 

 

 

 

 Hand printed mark Levay, no date. Was this made after Gary locked the doors to his Alton property and walked away?

 

 

 

 Each of these three paperweights have the stylized Levay mark on the base however I purchased them directly from Fenton. Did Fenton make these paperweights for Gary or were they just being a distributor for him?  If they were selling for him then these were most likely made at the Alton Glass studio.

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t really collect the egg shaped weights but these two landed in my inventory.  One is Intaglio Anton and the other is hand signed Levi 95.

 This is a part of the collection I have that I term as “Cypriote glass.  I can tell you that in my collection it is the most colorful section when displayed and draws many comments and conversations.

A few years ago I purchased a very nice paperweight made by Gibson and hallmarked as such.  It wasn’t until I started researching Levay that I came across a sales ad that showed that particular style and color weight. Was Levay marketing for Gibson or did Intaglio Glass Ltd. purchase from Gibson a Levay branded product?

                                                     

  This is a Gibson PW most likely made from Fenton cullet as Gibson was known to purchase cullet from       Fenton.

 

 

 What I find interesting about this particular weight is that Levay marketed and sold this paperweight in the 1990′s. 

I still have much more info on Levay and Gary Levi so I hope you will return to read the additional writing I will do on this article each week.  I also have many more photos of Levay weights I have collected. 

Some of the questions still to be answered:

Why did Levay Distributing close their doors all of a sudden in the mid 1990′S?  Gary Levi locked the doors one day and never returned!

Did Gary Levi design these paperweights? 

Was Gary a gaffer?  Did he personally make glass paperweights or pay others to do the work for him?

Did Inatglio Levay declare bankruptcy?

Why did Gary let the distribution center (Milton Schoolhouse) stand locked and shuttered for more than 10 years full of antique/modern glass, paperweights and his antique furniture collection?

What is the status of the old Milton Schoolhouse today?

Why did Gary’s widow refuse to go to the abandoned Levay center (Milton Schoolhouse) after his death?

Was the reason for Gary’s glass business failure do to mismanagement, embezzlement and/or prolific employee theft?

That’s it for today. Be sure to check out what I am selling at my eBay store Kelekchens. To go there now place your cursor on my assistant (the duck) and click to enter. I will continue to research and work on this piece until I have it to my satisfaction before moving on. So…until next time “Happy Collecting” and remember “the best is yet to come”.

 

Getting Started

The company of Orient & Flume was founded in 1972 at Chico, CA, by Douglas Boyd and David Ballentine Hopper. Both had studied with Robert Fritz at San José. After getting their master’s degrees they traveled all over Europe learning and experiencing the old techniques in glass first hand. I suppose their travels are a highly kept secret entered in their diaries only as I have never read about any of their experiences. Being a world traveler myself and having lived in Europe for eight years, off and on I can relate to what a wonderful adventure and learning experience it is.  After returning from their travels  they set up their first furnace in Boyd’s backyard, which lay between Orient Street and Flume Street hence the company title. Their first pieces were signed with a double B, indicating Boyd and Ballentine.  It was at this location that Douglas purchased a historic carriage house and transformed it into an art glass studio. Orient & Flume’s stunning art glass creations quickly became popular and by 1973 the business had grown too large for the small carriage house. The company was then relocated to Park Avenue in Chico where it remains to this very day. The company regularly drew in other artists with various skills in working glass, including Kathy Orme (a designer who still does sand-carved glass in Chico), Lubomir Richter (a Czech-trained glass engraver who works for Steuben), Dan Shura (an ivory scrimshaw artist now living in Canada), Daniel Boone (a stained-glass artist who now has his own studio in Chico), and Bruce Sillars (a designer and glassblower employed by the company). Orient & Flume specialized in recreating the outstanding achievements of famous American companies, such as Tiffany “cypriote” glass and Steuben aurenes. While the body of their work is largely a riff on American art nouveau, by 1978 they were experimenting with more contemporary styles.  Orient & Flume’s early blown glass creations centered on recreating the iridescent glass pieces made famous by such companies as Tiffany, Steuben, and Loetz.

              

Some examples of the Tiffany or Loetz style paperweights made by Orient & Flume in the 70s and 80s.  

Over time this evolved into their current creations of three-dimensional designs within clear glass or cased glass weights. This eye-catching effect is part of what makes their vases and paperweights so valuable among  glass collectors.

    

A very beautiful example of the dimensional cased glass work of Orient & Flume. This is a 1984 “Star Flower” paperweight with a OF /84 date cane. I have only seen the date cane in the 1983 and 1984 paperweights and not all of them for those years have it.

About the Studio

Located at 2161 Park Avenue in the small Northern California town of Chico, tucked back from the main road is a world-famous blown glass art studio known as Orient and Flume.  They are open Monday through Saturday in the showroom from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.  The studio, where you are able to watch some of the glass production, is open Monday through Friday and closed on weekends. Orient & Flume also has a website where you can buy their creations.

The studio is a working studio with a large production facility in the back that accommodates several artists. Located in the front is a small section that contains historical pieces and memorabilia along with a seating area where you can sit and watch a short video on the process of glass making. In the main entrance is a gallery where selections of various works are displayed and sold- from large glass vases to small pieces of original jewelry. The prices for pieces in the gallery range from $100 dollars for a small pendant, all the way to several thousand dollars for a large vase.

Business Profile of Orient & Flume Art Glass Company -

Address: 2161 Park Ave. , Chico California  95928-6702,  Butte County  Metro Area:  Chico-Paradise CA

Mail Carrier Route:  C006

URL: http://www.orientandflume.com/

Phone:  530 893 0373 Fax:  530 893 2743

headquarters/Branch: Single Location

Year 1st appeared: 1991

Square footage: 10,000 – 39,999

Employee size: 20 to 49,  Current: approx. 25

Firm/Individual:  Firm/Business, Credit Alpha Score: A, Credit Numeric Score: 91

PC Code: 2 – 9 PCs

Primary SIC: 322901   Description:  Glass Blowers (Manufacturers)

Secondary SIC: 599969   Description: Art Galleries & Dealers

Contact Person:  Douglas Boyd, Title: Owner, Gender: Male 

The work

The process it takes to create beautiful pieces of art is anything but simple. The artists must face a fiery furnace heated to 3000 degrees in order to melt sand into glass. They take a metal punty that is much like a big straw- that is dipped in the hot liquid glass in the furnace. They spin the punty around and pull out a large mass of molten glass that will be pulled, pushed, spun, cut and rolled all the while blowing air into the punty, until the desired shape is achieved. The patterns and colors of the art piece are rolled into the molten glass. There are other techniques that can be employed, but each piece determines the technique used. There is a video on the web that is well executed and describes the glass blowing process.

The studio currently has five artists who work both on individual pieces and in collaboration with each other. Bruce Sillars is the original employee, having begun his career with Orient and Flume in 1973. Along with Bruce are four other artists, all masters in the art of glass blowing.  Their works are displayed in many galleries around the world. Artists Chris Sherwin, Richard Braley, Scott Beyers and William Carter work individually as well as collaboratively to create the breathtaking works of art produced at Orient and Flume. While most Orient & Flume art glass creations do somewhat adhere to a common theme, each artist has the freedom to add their own individual touch and style.

Not all Paperweights are created equal – OOPS!- From an O&F collector:

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I thought you should know that the O&F signature on a piece of Orient and Flume means that the piece is a second. Top pieces have the full name of the studio. Most people do not know this, but the studio would be the first to confirm it. I collect the peacock feather designs and you’ll be lucky to get around $100 for a top piece and 60-70 for a second. 

    

A beautiful petite “Peacock Feather” signed O&F that looks perfect to me! The saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is certainly true in this case.

Obviously not every piece is museum quality.

Orient & Flume paperweight Markings 

All Orient & Flume paperweights are signed and dated in one way or another.  I have tried to describe some of the unusual markings I have found in the exceprts below.  Generally, from 1972 to 1984 the paperweights have the signature, Orient & Flume in script and spelled out if it is not a second. A second just has O&F in script.  The weights from 1972 – 1984 have the date written on the weight as well, usually on the bottom with the run number ie: 1 of 150 and/or a serial number of some kind. You may also find the artist intials or name spelled out on the weight.  The egg weights sometimes have the same information but written very tiny on the outside base rim.  Many of the collectible weights still have the blue and white studio tag.  In my opinion this is a plus on weights dated 1985 or newer. The original box and COA (Certificate of Authenticity) also is a plus.  It shows that the previous owner took good care of the weight.  The weights 1983 and 1984 sometimes have a signature cane with O&F and the last two digits of the year, either 83 or 84. This IS NOT a second.  It is in the signature cane only and still signed on the bottom. In 1985 Orient & Flume started marking their weights with a different numbering system. The first letter at the end of the numbers indicates the year using a reverse alphabet starting with Z. So Z is 1985. If you see the number 0715Z this weight was made in July 1985 and is number 15. Their normal run is 500 to 1000 but I have seen a run of as few as 25.  Also it is important to know that they skipped the O so N would be 1996.  “Oh” what a year that was!  Ha ha. The year 2010 does not have a letter so it is anybodies guess what they will mark on the 2011!  LE is Limited Edition probably runs of 25, 50 150 or 250. Anything over 250 is most likely not an LE.

Ok, here are some examples to help:

    

   

 

 

A vintage 1975 Orient & Flume marked in script. This one simply says 768 H 1975. This one is 768 from a run of 1000 or 2000. I have some older ones but this one was easy to photograph because of the cobalt blue base.  The white dot in the center is the core, not a studio tag.

 

 

 

Signed with just the O&F and the date 1982. Someone in charge of production decided this one was a second, although it looks perfect to me.

 

 

 

An egg shaped weight signed in script Orient & Flume with the number E51M1978 on the outer edge of the base rim.  This one is the 51st made in 1978.

 

 

 

 

An egg shaped weight but signed on the base. Orient & Flume in script. Artist signature of G. Jones and then G.G.W. 4-6 which means G.G. for gift glass made in June 1984.

                                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                              

  This 1984 has a studio tag (faded), it is signed in script Orient & Flume, has the run and year C246 and 1984 and the signature cane (2nd photo) O&F 84. Also has the artist signatures of Beyers and Seaira.

 

 

 

 

 

Again, a faded studio tag. This paperweight is signed in script Orient & Flume and also signed by the artist, Matthew Quinn and has the run number as 46/100. The date is under the system started in 1985.  The number as written is 132yASFN6 so this one is the 32nd made of 46 in Jan 1986. Remember that it is the first letter in the string which in this case is y or 1986. Also just a note that they wanted to make 100 that doesn’t mean that they did. You will find this often in European paperweights such as Baccarat and Caithness. Maybe they made the whole run and maybe not but in Jan 1986 only 46 had been made.

 

 

 

 

A colorful “hanging hearts” weight signed in script Orient & Flume, artist signature of Braley and the numbers MOO89dx. Made in August 2006. This one is number 9.

 

     

    

    

 

Brand new, just unpacked. Interesting that the studio tag sits in a little recess in the base so that it doesn’t get worn or damaged! This one is signed Orient & Flume in script, signed by the artist Beyers and the number is 038603102495, made in March 2010. There are no letters. Just the numbers. This one has the box, felt bag and COA. The description on the COA is “Gold Iridescent Deep Sea Life”, Designer: Scott Beyers. 

 

Past and Present Artist

Current Artist -

Bruce Sillars -  is a prolific designer considered by other glass blowers to be a true master of glass technique. Sillars grew up in the Los Angeles suburbs. In high school he worked in ceramics, later becoming a technician in the ceramic studio at Moorpark College. He holds a BA degree in Art with an emphasis in ceramics, glass, and sculpture from California State University, Chico.

A collaborative effort, signed Beyers and Sillars

Scott Beyers - A master glass artist, Scott is known for his graceful, free-flowing designs achieved through the expert use of “torch worked” techniques. Through his extraordinary finesse with these most difficult techniques, his work displays motifs that display the most delicate of lines, sensitive colors and sense of movement. 

A collaborative effort signed by Beyers and Hudin, 1983

William Carter - A superb glass artist William is fascinated by the idea of hot, molten glass being manipulated to form art pieces that, when finished, end up so cool and smooth to the touch. He has a special talent for torchworking, or the application of designs on hot glass using a hand torch to melt colored glass canes. Most of his designs are drawn from nature, often including flowers and foliage.

iridescent Ocean Blue, Large, signed Carter

Richard Braley – Music and art both influence the independent personality of Richard. Richard was always getting into trouble for drawing, ever since kindergarten. In high school his art took form through his favorite subject, wood shop. But his introduction to art glass came through a three-year independent study program at Central Washington State in glass blowing.
 
Signed Braley, not dated
 
Jeff Howell – A glass engineer, designer & artist, Jeff Howell received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Organic Chemistry from the University of California in San Diego and his Masters from UC, Santa Barbara in Physical Chemistry. He became interested in art glass, while manufacturing chemical instruments and performing the task of scientific glassblower, which dealt with distiller apparatus and test tubes.

 

Past Artist –

Lee Hudin
He worked in art and design for decades, meeting his wife Cathryn while in a college art class. For many years he blew and decorated glass in his own studio and for Orient and Flume. In 1985 he joined Cathryn to design and make pottery at their home studio. Until his passing in 2003, these two artists collaborated on many pieces while at the same time working on their own independent projects.

 Signed L. Hudin 1982

Smallhouse, David – Started with O&F in 1980 and was there for 21 years. Did a lot of work in design with Ed Alexander. Now has his own studio and there is even a Smallhouse Glass Collector’s Club with a lot of good info about David’s past and present work.  He is pretty well-known for his whimsical and colorful octopi and frog paperweights.

 

 

 

 

 

A 1991 Orient & Flume large hand cooler signed by Smallhouse.

 

Jones G. –   A new find:

 

 

 

 

 

This is an interesting marking, GGW4-6 which means GG for Gift Glass, 4 for 1984 and 6 for the month of June.  Signed by G. Jones. A vintage Orient & Flume weight for sure.

Hopper , David -  co-founder of Orient & Flume in 1972

Quinn, Matthew -  I don’t know much about Matthew Quinn. I have only seen his signature on a few weights over the years.

Signed Matthew Quinn, Limited Edition 46/100.  

Alexander, Ed – Now retired from Orient & Flume so hold onto your Alexander weights. They soon will be harder to find.

A magnum paperweight. Perfect! Signed by Alexander.

Held, Gregg -  a senior artist at Orient & Flume in Chico, CA, died on November 14, 1999 of a heart attack while working in his yard. He was only in his mid-forties and it was a great loss to lose such an accomplished glass artist at such a young age.

Signed G. Held 1983.  Museum quality.  Absolutely MINT condition.

Seaira, Ed - aka Ed Alexander, artist can sometimes be a strange breed.

Signed Ed Seaira 1980

Joe Morel - This is one of the last pieces made by Joseph Morel at Orient & Flume. As a founder and Master Art Glass artist extraordinaire, Joe was working at Zellique Studios in 2004. I  have purchased a  number of his paperweights over the years. Now that he has retired, these pieces have been even more in demand than when I purchased them, and I would expect the demand to continue to increase. Joseph Morel’s impeccable attention to detail is represented in the finest galleries, museums and private collections throughout the world. Each piece of his glass art is signed, registered and dated. 

Initialed JM and dated 1975

Wallace James- Wallace learned to blow glass at Shasta College in the ’80′s, in Redding under Clif Sowder, who taught there for 30 years. He was also involved in putting together a studio with a couple of other guys, in Montgomery Creek Ca., one was Marty Hook, who owns Sumo Glass Studio now. He got on at O & F in 1988. He worked with Ed Alexander, Scott Beyers and those guys. After 3 or 4 years, he opened his own studio, called W.E. James Company in Redding, Ca.. He was most well-known for the “Zenith” design paperweight, which he sold all over the country & quite a few to L.H. Selman, for his catalogue. When he was at O & F, they really teased him about that design, saying it was too simple, etc., however, after Wallace passed away in 1996 (age 34, heart attack), the guys at O & F starting making all kinds of them, realizing they could sell a ton of them! The paperweights made and signed by Wallace James and Orient & Flume are hard to find.  I have two of them. Sandy (James) has some of his earlier Orient & Flume weights for sale on eBay. A good investment for O&F collectors as these weights are limited.  I wouldn’t pass them up, they are truly unique and excellent weights. 

                                                         

 

 

 

Over 2.3 pounds of polished glass. Signed Orient & Flume, an original creation by Wallace James, registry # H08825. Made in 1988 .  The number indicates that Wallace intended to make 25 of this particular weight, however this was advertised by the original owner as one of a kind. So….maybe he made more and maybe not. It is a beautiful weight. In 35 years of collecting I have never seen another Orient & Flume weight like it.

 

 

 

Filled with gold dust!  WOW!      

 

                                                           

       

This is just such an amazing paperweight I can’t hardly describe it.  I was just thrilled when it arrived in the post and I unwrapped it.  Made by Wallace James in April 1988 for Orient & Flume. A large weight at 1 lb. 15.6 oz. Registry #HO884S5.  This one is one of a kind although the registry # indicates that Wallace intended to make 5 of them. The colors inside this weight just blow me away!

Wallace James, rest your soul, I just love your paperweights, they are anything but simple. 

Jon Dewitt - Jon was born in Panama in 1952 and presently resides in the state of Washington. He has an impressive “Curriculum Vitae”.  Working with glass since the late 1970′s, Jon DeWitt has established his artistic presence through gallery representation across North America. His work is featured in several well-established public and corporate collections, including the Microsoft and Boeing collections in Washington and the Di Rosa Preserve in California. His sculptures have been the focus of articles in the publications, Glasswork Magazine, Glass Art Magazine, American Craft and the French Revue C’eramique & Verre. He was an instructor at the Pitchuk Glass School in Stanwood in 2009 and is currently a visiting artist at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale IL.

Signed J. DeWitt 1984

Dan Shura – Dan is a scrimshaw artist and used his skills to make the most beautiful of the Orient & Flume weights.  On the O&F website are currently two great Shura weights for sale, a fox and a wren;  $2500.00 and $3000.00 respectively. So if you ever have the opportunity to purchase one of Dan Shura’s PWs at a reasonable price I wouldn’t pass it up. It is a great investment and would make a vast improvement to any PW collection.

                   

A Dan Shura weight “Butterflies Among Leaves” . Made in 1979. This one is #19 of 50. It is damaged with a tiny nick 1/2″ up from the base.  I hope the other 49 are perfect. I am holding on to this one until I can find a nicer Shura in mint condition without paying in the four digits for it. Good luck with that!

Tony Martell –

Roberta Eichenberg – After obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University at Chico, with an emphasis in glass, she went to work for Orient & Flume. She was a part of the production team and designed for their product line as well.  She received her Master of Art from California State University at Chico, which became a launching pad for her future research. Roberta received a teaching assistantship at Ohio State University where she studied under Richard Harned and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree. The next year she took a position at the internationally renowned Pitchuk Glass School in the Northwest. She was Studio Coordinator for three years and Educational Coordinator for the last year she worked at Pitchuk. Roberta was selected for the Emerging Artist in Residence program at the Pitchuk Glass School.  She relocated to New Orleans LA where she taught at Delgado Community College and established her own studio. In 2000, Roberta relocated to Emporia Kansas and is teaching in the Department of Art at Emporia State. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Art at Emporia State University, teaching sculpture and glass, producing work and continuing to exhibit locally and nationally. 

From a Reader of the blog the following names were submitted: Thanks Louis.  Also worked for Orient & Flume was Chris Buzzini, Marialyce Hawk, Lubomir Richter, Daniel Boone, Chris Sherwin, Richard Satava also known as Richard Gibbons. And others when I remember I will email.

From a blog Reader the following name was submitted: Thanks Steve. Another artist was Mike Shaw who apparently started at O&F about 1989 but that is all I have. I have two of his weights but they must be private pieces signed by him.  Do you know anything further about Mike? Great info on your site. Thanks heaps, Steve

From a Reader of the blog the following names were submitted: Thanks again Louis.  Keep up the good work!   Also worked at Orient & Flume were Alan Iwamura, Bryon Sutherland, Pete Howell, Steve Beyers, Valerie Surjan. More to come when I remember.
Contract work with O&F:

Sam Stergeon -  Sam worked for Lundberg Studios, Orient & Flume and other glass studios primarily as a faceter or cutter however, he did make some paperweights on his own from time to time (very few).  He formed his own company called Glass Works Studio but stopped working in 1992.  His life’s work was cut short by a debilitating stroke which he never  recovered from.  Sam’s work can be seen in museums throughout the world where exhibited but owning a Sam Stergeon paperweight will be difficult as they are a rare find and expensive. Currently at the O&F website there is a weight done by Sam, asking price is $1000.00.

Lubomir Richter - A Czechoslovakian, Lubomir did some nice engraving work for both Lundberg and O&F studios. He worked for the Steuben Glass Co. for many years.

              

The most recent and welcomed addition to my personal collection. A wonderful 1982 etched glass weight created by Richter for Orient & Flume. Signed and dated. I like this weight because of it’s Victorian design.  The other Richter weights I have seen that are the same color as this one have the following carvings on them. A bear and cub, a dragon, nesting eagles and one with butterflies and plants. There are additional weights of different colors and different designs. It is the ones marked Orient & Flume that I am interested in. 

10 Years of Orient & Flume:  1974 to 1984   ( A short video of O&F weights in my collection, one for each year).

http://static.animoto.com/swf/w.swf?

Orient & Flume’s art glass works can be found in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Museum, the Chicago Art Institute, the Metropolitan Museum, the Chrysler Museum and the Corning Glass Museum. In addition, they can be found in numerous private collections (my own) and galleries. Their beautiful works are admired and respected by glass collectors worldwide.

As far as I know, there is not a book that has been written or an in depth history of Orient & Flume so it is just a guess about the many artist that have contributed to the O&F glassmaking fame. However, when I come across a paperweight, vase, perfume bottle or whatever with Orient & Flume on the piece I look for the artist name. If it is new  to me I add them to my list. If you know of an artist that worked there and is not on my list then shoot me an email, I would be happy to add them. A photo of the piece would be nice but I wouldn’t add it to my post as I only use photos of pieces I own or have owned. Sorry. What I would really like to be able to do is list the artist name and the years they worked for (or produced) Orient & Flume. That would be awesome info for us all!

That’s it for today. I will continue to research and work on this piece until I have it to my satisfaction before moving on. So…until next time “Happy Collecting” and remember “the best is yet to come”.


There are just a ton of American Contemporary paperweight and art glass makers.  During the glass movement of the 1970′s – 1990s it seems that every glass blower in America opened their own studio.  Some became famous and one of my many favorites is Steven Lundberg.  

Steven Lundberg was born in Chicago in 1953 and moved with his family to Santa Barbara in 1958. As a young man, he worked as a telephone technician. In 1972, his creative desires led him to become an apprentic glass blower to his older brother James. James Lundberg, with fellow artists like Stuart Abelman were instrumental in the early development of the studio glass movement. Steven Lundberg can be considered the father of the Contemporary American Art Glass revival. Working as Nouveau Glass. In 1973, Steven and James formed Lundberg Studios in Davenport California. Steven’s skills continued to grow, and he developed into a master glassmaker. His talents included shaping, decorating, casting, lampworking, torchworking, and lapidary. His inventive skills as a fabricator of technical equipment gained him recognition in the world of glass-blowing. His ability to create complex glass formulas enabled him to design glass art that was and still is envied by his peers. With the untimely passing of his brother James in 1992, Steve continued his work at Lundberg Studios. In January 1997, along with his wife Ola and son Justin, Steve created his own studio in California.

In 2002 in the process of moving to his state of the art studio in Oregon, Steven was diagnosed with ALS. In 2008 the Master Glass Blower, Steven Lundberg, put down his blow pipe for the very last time. Stephen Lundberg passed away in 2008. In this talented Lundberg family, Steven’s son Justin has inherited the skills of a master glass blower. He is continuing the family tradition creating his own series of art glass. The Oregon studio was completed under the influence of Steven and new and exciting works of art are taking form . Steve’s creations are on display in many permanent collections such as The Smithsonian Institute, the White House, The Corning Museum of Glass, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of American Glass and the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum. Steven Lundberg Glass Art is exhibited in fine galleries and catalogs worldwide. 

Many of Steve’s private art glass collection pieces were released at auction soon after his death and so the likely last opportunity to buy a personal family item created from the genius, dedication, and passion of Steven Lundberg is gone.   However, dedicated collectors are still buying and trading to solidify their collections of Lundberg treasures.

Steve was a pioneer of the Contemporary American Studio Glass. He was also a pioneer of the California torchwork paperweight process. His work is highly regarded. Here are some of the pieces in my collection.

    

Signed with Steve’s initials and dated.

         

Three nice favrile and iridescent Lundberg weights.  Similar to Tiffany style glass. Signed Lundberg Studios and dated.

    

I do have a few signed by Daniel Salazar. In June of 1974 Daniel Salazar was hired as a glass grinder by Nouveau Glass, later to become Lundberg Studios. By 1975 he was working with hot glass as a helper or pontilman there. It soon became evident that he had a unique flair for design. By 1978 he had begun producing and designing his own paperweights. He was also influential in developing certain techniques in the California style paperweight lampworking process.  Today Daniel has earned a fine reputation for his delicate and natural look in floral paperweights, as well as birds, underwater scenes, and abstract glass works. These same designs have also been produced in a beautiful assembly of perfume bottles, vases, and jewelry jars. Much of Daniel’s work has taken inspiration from his interest in botany and the collecting of Asian art and antiques. Since childhood, a passion for sketching and watercolor has been the source for his unique artistic development. In addition, he has attended art classes at Cabrillo College in color and design, and life drawings.  His work is exhibited in museums throughout the world.

    

 In 1974, with notable contributions from Chris Buzzini, Mark Cantor, James Lundberg and Daniel Salazar,  Steve had Lundberg  Studios embark on a quest to create a new type of paperweight. Finding the works of Mark Cantor is becoming more difficult with time. These two weights are very fine examples of Mark Cantor’s early paperweights. There is much more purple, blue and green iridescence in these paperweights than shown in the pictures. Much more beautiful than shown. These are amazing and historic pieces to add to any collection. Signed and dated with the Cantor and Lundberg signatures.

    

Lundberg Studios is famous for their World Weights and have a whole series dedicated to this theme. I have a few, specifically a 415 (Magnum) and a petite that I am selling in my eBay store.

              

An assortment of Steve Lundberg Vases, signed, dated and with the studio paper tag. The last one even has a Certificate of Authenticity.

You can access the Lundberg website here: www.lundbergstudios.com/info/events.html to find the beautiful pieces that were designed by Stephen and the studio his family created.

The Lundberg studios also make beautiful perfume bottles. Be sure to check out all of my paperweight and art glass collection at my eBay store “Kelekchens”  Put your cursor on my assistant, the duck, and enter.  That’s it for today. I have many contemporary artist to tell you about so I will be back soon. Happy collecting and remember “the best is yet to come“.

Paperweight – Millefiori


History of millefiori

Another major grouping of paperweights is the use of millefiori canes in the construction. Millefiori-decorated objects have been created intermittently from the time of ancient Mesopotamia to the present day. Bowls of fused millefiori canes are known to have been made in ancient Rome and Alexandria, and there are a few references to examples of millefiori work during the Renaissance. By the eighteenth century, however, the technical knowledge for the manufacture of millefiori was lost. It was not until the nineteenth century that a revival of the technique appeared. By the end of the 1830s, millefiori were manufactured successfully in Silesia-Bohemia. Within two or three years of its rediscovery, factories in Venice, England, and France were also producing quantities of millefiori canes.

 
 

Process of Manufacture

Cut from long, thin glass rods, millefiori canes were prepared in the following manner: The glassworker took a gather of molten glass on a pontil, or long iron rod, and rolled it back and forth on a marver, or flat surface, until it formed a solid cylinder. The cylinder was then pressed into a die-cut mold that had a geometric shape or the outline of a specific animal or figure. The piece was further embellished by dipping on additional layers of varying colors of glass. As each layer was added, it was rolled onto the ever-growing cylinder or pressed into increasingly larger molds to vary the cane’s ultimate design.

 

 

The finished cylinder of glass, approximately six inches long and three inches in diameter, was reheated until pliant.  The pulled apart, stretching the yielding cylinder pencil-thin. The stretched cooled cane was then sliced into hundreds of little discs, each an exact miniaturization of the original design. For more complex designs, lengths of the stretched canes were cut into six-inch pieces, bundled in a geometric pattern, heated until fused together, stretched pencil-thin, and slices again. In this manner, glassworkers were able to produce unlimited millefiori cane designs from a limited selection of molds.

 

Once a quantity of millefiori canes was produced, they were combined into a variety of patterns limited only by the ingenuity of the artisan. To create a paperweight, a design of canes was arranged in a metal ring, and a gather of molten glass on the end of a pontil rod was brought down upon the design. The canes adhered to the molten glass. The rod was repeatedly dipped in glass until an adequately thick lens was produced over the millefiori design. While still plastic, the glass was blocked and shaped. Slightly cooled to a stable state, it was broken off the pontil rod and placed in an annealing oven to cool slowly.

Cane types
There are specific kinds of canes formed by the glassmakers. They include, in addition to the myriad types of flower-like patterns, the simplest rod canes, star canes, cog canes (shaped liked the cogs of a gear wheel), Clichy Rose cane, and sillouette canes, which contain a figure of an animal, person, or plant, a date or maker’s mark.

Millefiori patterns in paperweights
Millefiori weights are categorized into types and named according to the configuration of the canes.

    

  • Concentric millefiori weights may be closely positioned or spaced in rings around a center cane.  This Perthshire weight has twisted glass rods that divide the millefiori into sections that surround a concentric center.

 

    

  • Close Millefiori weights contain a small forest of canes thrusting up from the base side by side with little space between them.  This is a faceted 1978 Whitfriars Millefiori PW.  Enlarge the photos to see the signature cane. It is always exciting to find a paperweight with a cane that has the signature of the maker and the date.  The Whitefriar signature cane is a monk.  That is because the Whitefriar factory is an old monastery.

 

    

Concentric millefiori weights may be closely positioned or spaced in rings around a center cane.  This is a nice example of a bee hive faceted weight by Whitefriar.

            

  • Pattern millefiori weights feature canes that are arranged in patterns such as lines, flower-like forms, or symmetrical rings. This is a Strathearn from Scotland.  It has a “floater” a piece that separated from the glass canes into debris (in this case a tiny black ball) and then floated up into the encasement of the PW.  This reduces the value of the weight unless a collector is looking for the non-perfect weights.

 

    

  • Pattern Millefiori weights feature canes that are arranged in patterns such as lines, flower-like forms, or symmetrical rings. A colorful PMCD, Peter McDougall PW from Crief Scotland. Signature cane is in the base.

 

         

  • Pattern millefiori weights feature canes that are arranged in patterns such as lines, flower-like forms, or symmetrical rings. This is a Caithness Scotland PW.

 

    

  • Scrambeled Millefiori weights feature what looks like a stirred mixture of different canes. Sometimes called End of Day because the glassmaker uses whatever is at hand at the end of the workday to produce a piece like this one. Assorted Millefiori Including Thistle Cane, Millefiori Butterfly, Star Canes, Complex Canes, Loveheart Cane, Cockerel Silhouette, Clichy Roses, Candy Twirls all Set On A Blue/Purple Background

 

         

  • Carpet Ground Millefiori weights look like a carpet of small identical ( often star or rod) canes interspersed with larger spaced millefiori canes.  Not a great example but a nice John Deacons ribbon paperweight.

 

         

  • Chequers Millefiori weights get their name from the filigree twists that act as separators among the space canes. A very nice 1982 Perthshire with signature cane in center. This paperweight also has some nice silhouette canes on a filigree lace bed.

 

    

WOW! End of day?  Not really. This is a scrambled weight where the artist has messed with the canes by heating them, pulling them and added all kinds of glass delights.  Made by an artist in Pitsburgh PA by the name of James Alloway.  Titled  “Psychedelic”.

  • Garland millefiori weights contain canes arranged in loops, lobes, C-scrolls, or circlets.
  • Mushroom millefiori weights are those containing a central upright mushroom-shaped cluster of millefiori canes in a clear body, with or without overlays and printies.
  • Overlays consist of a coating of colored opaque or translucent glass on the surface of a (Usually millefiori) weight, through which are cut windows called printies.
  • Single cane millefiori weights contain just one center patterned canes on a textured background.

 

I currently do not have weights of the above so no photos.  As I get PW’s I will add new examples of the millefiori weights.  If you would like to see more of the PW’s I do have visit my eBay store “Kelekchens”.  You can do that by putting your cursor on my assistant “the duck” and press enter. 

Thats it for today.  Happy collecting and remember “The best is yet to come”!

 
 

 

Paperweights We Love


It is very hard to decide just where to start with my paperweight collection.  From my last post you can see that there is a plethora of subject matter about collecting paperweights. There are as many paperweight makers as there are paperweights it seems but not all maker’s are created equal.  One of my personal favorites is William Manson Sr.

William Manson’s career in glass began in 1966 when he joined the Caithness Glass Co. in England, as an apprentice glass blower.  He trained under the watchful eye of a master glass blower, Paul Ysart.  William was introduced to the art of making glass paperweights. He left the company in 1970 with Ysart and began a journey of intensive training from Ysart for four more years before returning to Caithness in 1974 as the director of their Limited Editions department using many of his own designs and expertise. 

William has a unique style all his own. His pieces include lampwork flowers surrounded by garlands of millefiori canes as well as nature weights such as salamanders, fish and swans. 

Usually made in Limited Edition sizes of 150 his weights are signed with a WM cane and sometimes dated.  Occasionally you can find pieces personally signed by William.  The number of the weight in the LE is usually written on the bottom of the weight.  What I like most about his PWs is the glass encasement.  The glass is heavy and very clear.  Always well polished and faceted.

My first William Manson Sr. Paperweight:

    

“Pansy Paperweight” made in 2000 and hand signed by William Manson Sr.

Often paperweights have a story behind them and this next weight has a nice story. An excerpt from the dealer I purchased it from:

Willliam Manson, Sr. Limited Edition of 20, Museum piece. Silkworms on Mulberry leaves. A tribute to the silkworm weight made in the Pantin factory in France in the late 1800s. It is one of the most interesting and historically significant paperweights in the world, and there is only one. It sold at auction in 1953 to King Farouk of Egypt, but because he was forced to abdicate his throne that very day, he was unable to pay the dealer. It subsequently sold to Paul Jokelson, and later at auction in 1983 it sold for $143,000. The muslin ground evokes images of fine silk. Since I knew I would not be able to afford the original, I asked Willie Manson to make for me an exclusive limited edition of Silkworms eating Mulberry Leaves as a tribute to this great paperweight. I think Willie did a great job – of course, he did – he is a true master. 2 ¾ inch diameter; 1 7/8 inches tall; 13 ounces. Condition: Pristine/New/Perfect. “WM” cane. “William Manson Snr 2009 4/20” 

 

         

A beautiful Manson Sr. weight “Silk Worms” 2009, Limited Edition, 4 of 20.

 

This next PW is an older edition and has excellent color combination.  Another plus of Manson weights is his use of color.

         

Manson Sr.  “Clematis” PW.   WM  and date cane “1980″.  Limited edition of 150. This one is #34.

 

I consider this next weight to be a very special Manson paperweight, made in 2010 it is an edition of 1.  Meaning it is the only one made. There are no others like this one.

         

“Three Roses with buds and Blue Dragonfly” an exceptional PW by William, signed on base, edition 1/1 as well as the WM signature cane.  You can expect to pay in the four digits for a one of a kind Manson Sr. weight such as this one. If you inspect the wings of the dragonfly closely you will see they are lattacino.

 

I will continue to purchase William Manson Sr. paperweights to add to my collection.  His work reminds me of the old French lampwork weights that sell for 1000′s of dollars a piece.  You would be hard pressed to find another English Master glassmaker who’s work is as well done.

                   

    

Some recent additions to my William Manson Sr. paperweight collection.  All are hand signed and marked with the WM signature cain. You can see more of my collection at my eBay store “Kelekchens”

Check out all of my paperweights that I now have for sale at my eBay store “Kelekchens”.  Place your cursor on my assistant “the duck” and enter.  Go to Paperweight Kelekchen or you can contact me through this blog under comments.  Thanks for reading my blog.

Until next time Happy Collecting and remember “the best is yet to come”

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