Though it may seem implausible, these translucent orbs bursting with activity and life are made entirely from glass by New Jersey-based artist Paul Stankard, largely considered to be the father of modern glass paperweights. While many will find his work instantly recognizable, if you’re like me, you might have been unaware that modern glass paperweights existed. Stankard is a pioneer in the studio glass movement and his techniques have helped change the course of artistic glass for the last few decades.
After battling undiagnosed dyslexia for his entire youth (at one time graduating the bottom of his class), Stankard struggled greatly to identify his life’s calling. While in college he discovered scientific glass blowing, the manual process of creating scientific instruments out of glass for use in laboratories. He was instantly hooked and for 10 years worked with industrial glass. Eventually the pressure of a growing family at home lead to an experiment with the creation of glass paperweights in his garage to supplement his income.
When Stankard suddenly directed a decade of industrial glassworking techniques into the interpretation of flowers, bees, vines, and leaves encased in glass, it wasn’t long before an art dealer discovered his work and he began to create art full-time. His pieces now appear in over 60 museums around the world including the Smithsonian, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Louvre.
Almost all of the photographs in this article were provided by Ron Farina.