Paperweights focus of Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum exhibit
The Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum celebrates an often unrecognized part of this region's glass industry with its first traveling exhibit of glass paperweights.
The exhibit runs through June 15.
Cassandra Vivian, executive director of the museum, said that glassmakers often made these paperweights for fun during their lunch breaks.
“These jobs were called ‘bucket jobs,' because workers could fit these projects into their lunchbuckets,” Vivian said.
She said that there were three kinds of paperweights: whimsical, which were completely free form; political, and advertisements, which contained ads for local businesses.
Bruce Kastner, a retired glassmaker from the L. E. Smith Glass Co., said that these paperweights were gifts that glassmakers made for themselves and for their families, often for birthdays and other occasions.
“Making these paperweights was a good challenge,” Kastner said. “There were no rules. It was completely free form. We enjoyed the challenge of creating something that nobody else had.”
He said that glassmaking is a fine art.
“Glassmaking takes patience,” he said. “You don't blow hard to blow glass. All it takes is a whisper of air.”
Kastner began working at L.E. Smith in 1966.
“The glass industry was the only industry in this area,” he said. “I enjoyed making glass. I enjoyed the challenge. For 14 years, I drew stem. Later on, I blew glass.”
Vivian said that paperweights were popular from the 1930s through the 1950s.
“This display will be nostalgic for many people,” she said.
The Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum is at 402 E. Main St., Mt. Pleasant, the site of the old Lenox factory.
For more information, call 724-542-4949.
Barbara Starn is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.