Solid glass paperweights seem to belong to another time. Yet there are thousands of paperweight collectors today. What draws collectors to the diminutive world of paperweights? Nothing is as beautiful or mysterious as a handcrafted paperweight, especially if it was fashioned by a master glass artist.
A Glass Family
Growing up in a glass family, I developed a love for paperweights early in life. By the time I was fourteen years old, I was collecting my uncle’s paperweights. He was a glassblower and owner/operator of Hamon Glass Company in Scott Depot, West Virginia. My uncle, Robert L. Hamon, was known for his marvelous paperweights.
Other members of my family have made paperweights, as well, but none have been more serious than my uncle.
Robert L. Hamon made a wonderful paperweight called the Hamon cut rose. Different than a crimp rose, a hand cut rose is more beautiful. Each petal is individually formed by cutting in four places a small blob of hot glass, which is encased in crystal. The Hamon roses almost looked real, floating in a faceted slab of crystal, their petals flanked by beautiful green leaves. He made rose paperweights in several colors, such as ruby and orange, but my favorite was yellow.
My uncle made sulfides, cane weights and ice pick paperweights. The latter were most interesting to me, as a young man. Gorgeous crystal covered twisted, swirling abstract forms. No two were ever alike. These were usually dome-shaped, and were rarely faceted, unlike the other weights he made. Faceting creates little windows through which one can view the weight’s interior. And, as a bonus, the facets create lots of light reflections, which give the weights a certain mystique.
What a passion Robert had for handcrafted paperweights. Some of his sulfides can be found in the collections of former Presidents of the United States and other dignitaries. For many years, avid collectors bought his weights and displayed them prominently in their homes and businesses.
A Dazzling Display
While I loved the esteemed paperweights of famous glass shops, such as Baccarat and St. Louis, none were more interesting to me than my uncle’s paperweights. I loved to visit his studio where literally hundreds of his paperweights were on dazzling display. Some were sitting on small bases which shot a beam of light through the glass, creating a remarkable effect. Inside each glass globe there was a fascinating world of color, character and form.
How I would sit for hours in the Hamon Glass studio staring into those exquisite glass globes, exploring the swirling inclusions with an eager eye. My uncle’s finest weights seemed to reveal a world within a world, a magical, colorful world whose secrets were discovered only by those who cared to tarry long enough to enter the hidden kingdom of handcrafted glass.
In any good glass collection you will find vases, bowls, paperweights, figurines and other types of decorative glass. Yet nothing is as alluring as the paperweights. Like poison arrow frogs, the marvels of the rain forest, paperweights are the jewels of the glass world.
If you would like to find out more about Robert L. Hamon, glass artist extraordinaire, you will enjoy visiting his website, and feasting your eyes on photos of his lovely glass works.