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Paperweights

~Paperweights, Awesome Buttons~
 To find a button in which you can really appreciate craftsmanship and artistry, you won’t need to look any further than the modern paperweight button. Representing the peak of the glass-maker’s skill and technical knowledge, paperweight buttons are among the aristocrats of glass buttons. They are made in the same manner as desk paperweights, with a base, set-up and a cap.
The base is the bottom of the button. The set-up is the main decoration which includes foil pieces, gold-stone, air bubbles, various glass cane decorations and lamp-work. The base and set-up are then enclosed or topped by clear or transparent colored glass called the cap.

In some cases the cap actually encloses the set-up completely. The cap must be of perceptible thickness and may be formed as a ball, high or low dome, a cone or molded into any one of a variety of fancy shapes. Also caps may be of colored glass, and may be decorated with colored glass overlay. Some of the best modern paperweights are overlaid with one or more colors and then cut or faceted through the overlay to reveal the interior design. A paperweight base may be formed simply of colored glass flecked streaked or blotched with another color or it may formed of a cushion of colored canes enclosed by the cap.

A set-up usually signifies a design, often of some complexity, which has been performed at the flame of the burner and fused to the base, then enclosed or topped with the cap. In some paperweights the set-ups are formed of loops, lacy canes, called latticino, streaks of glass and/or entrapped air bubbles. The making of glass paperweights requires not only artistic and manipulative skill, but a great deal of technical knowledge. The compatibility and rates of expansion of different colors and types of glass used is quite important. Components must expand and contract at the same rate or the glass will shatter as it cools. Cooling must be gradual and controlled. 

All paperweights are one solid piece of glass. 2-piece Czech glass buttons do not qualify as they are glued not fused together. Metal loop shanks are inserted into the bottom of the button while the glass is still molten. Some modern paperweights may have glued on shanks. Paperweights are NOT glass that is blown. They are assembled.

Collecting paperweights can be a fairly expensive proposition, as you might expect, given their complexities. Some of the high-end paperweights include buttons by Will Stokes of the Blue Flame Studios. These contain elaborate lamp-worked set-ups. Also, the distinctive buttons of John Gooderham are quite desirable. With their incised double overlays and faceted windows looking in on a set-up of cane or foil, they are quite wonderful. However, it is possible to find very affordable ones you will love. Buttons from Czechoslovakia, made for the export market are quite nice, most will have sweet little rose set-ups and are fairly inexpensive.

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