Barely A Taste And The Afterglow of Convention 2007:
The 2007 PCA Convention
by Dr. Ed Sheldon, MD, Former PCA Region III Director
Photography by Stanley B. Kruger
circumstances of the interval following the Appleton '05 PCA Convention,
advance planning for the next convention was delayed. The PCA
Board thus confronted a host of tough issues that, distilled, meant:
start over. What normally would have been a comfortable planning
period was significantly squeezed down, but it still had to include
finding a location with solid regional support, convention planning,
and program development. When those problems were resolved, it was
necessary to advance the convention dates to accommodate hotel availability.
All of this created an atmosphere of uncertainty about the whole
deal. But, voila, it worked. Accolades for the dedication and hard
work by individuals deserves notice, too much space though for the
imposed constraints herein. Suffice it to say, their legacy is a
job well done!
* * *
About twenty dozen — you do the math — enthusiastic PCA members found their
way to "Poor little Rhode Island," so the song goes. Our collective
attendance impact figures out to be about .025% of the states' total
population. But on the final day of the convention, about 160 area
citizens (more than half of the total number of registered attendees)
accepted the invitation to visit the Dealers' Fair and got an enlightening
dose of what a paperweight really is. So, we were seen and heard.
Eighteen artists, sixteen dealers, representatives of sixteen worldwide
collector organizations, and collectors from thirty states and eight
foreign countries made it to the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick,
several stone throws from Providence. Even a small contingent of
"Brits" revisited the Colonies, this time not appearing out of the
woods in red coats with blazing musket rifles but instead a delightful,
congenial, paperweight-loving group.
and rain greeted early attendees but by midweek sunshine and clear
skies prevailed. It most impacted but did not discourage those who
arrived early with time to do the special convention 'extras' —
visits to the Newport Mansions, and the RISD Museum (Rhode Island
School of Design — pronounced 'Rizdee' by the locals). What a gem
that is — considered one of the two best university museums in the
United States. A modest number but impressive collection of paperweights
was dusted off and displayed for us. And a special feature: one
of our own PCA registered artists, Cathy Richardson, gave
lampwork demonstrations in the glass shop at the school.
kick-off event, The Artist's Fair and Reception, provided artists
the opportunity to uncover their newest and latest creations with
rapt attention by and interaction with their admirers. An attractive
refreshment buffet and bar facilitated social engagement and the
renewal of old friendships among attendees.
Night at the Artist Fair
The opening Dealer's Fair followed the Artist's display in the hotel
ballroom, with spacious walkways and congregating areas, as well as
tables for socialization and rest. The usual thousands of glittering
temptations drew shoppers like moths to the lamp, and many dealers
were seen to be contented then and throughout the convention. One
must assume that a fair amount of wampum was exchanged for take-home
treasures, further evidenced by tote-bags and shopping bags exiting
A welcome by
PCA President Jim Lefever and introductions with instructions
by Ben Drabeck and Ellen Rostker, Convention Planning Co-chairmen,
officially opened the Convention sessions Thursday morning.
of the Guard:
Outgoing President Jim Lefever Welcomes
Ben Drabeck as the New PCA President
at the Saturday Night Banquet
Charming us in
the first session, Alan Symonds shared information about the weights
in the RISD display and introduced the special exhibits to be seen
in the Sandwich Museum later that day. More than a few chuckles greeted
fascinating experiences he recounted while acquiring weights during
international business travel that entailed gypsies and arm-wrestling
with other heavy-weight collectors, e.g. Rubloff and Jokelson, for
keenly sought-after weights. John Hawley, our Bulletin editor, followed
Mr. Symonds with a more didactic but informative dissertation on "Nineteenth
Century Massachusetts Glass Factories and the Paperweights They Made."
We were, after all, in the environs of that subject and the dominant
theme of the convention was the historical perspective of New England
glass and paperweight contributions through history. Further reinforcing
the theme with color, Alan Kaplan, in his authoritative, inimitable
rapid-fire staccato style, illustrated with projected images a litany
of "Great New England Weights I Have Known" - appetizer, entrée, and
dessert, all at once with colorful and informative narrative embellishment.
Paperweight Exhibit at
the Sandwich Glass Museum
Changing pace and
style, Rick Ayotte took us into the New Hampshire woods and marshes,
sharing his own inspiration and the products of that environmental
influence. Introduced to his latest work, hot sculpting with challenging
"soft" glass, we were smitten with the breakaway artistic expressions
he has created.
the convention attendees moved in comfortable coaches to the Sandwich
Glass Museum, some stopping at Pairpoint Glass, a historic anchor
of New England glass output, for a brief visit, observing hot glass
production in progress and shopping at the gift shop. On arrival
in the Sandwich Glass Museum, a marvelous assemblage of historic
New England glass, including of course paperweights, greeted us
along with a very friendly museum staff. The New England PCA, our
hosts and sponsors of this feature, welcomed us and presented wonderful
hot and cold appetizers and liquid refreshments. Kirk Nelson, Executive
Director of the New Bedford Museum of Glass, gave a fascinating
lecture on Nicolas Lutz, noted glassworker at the Boston & Sandwich
Glass Company. The special exhibits of contemporary New England
artists' work as well as a collection of antique French weights
- legitimized for temporary display and labeled "precursors" - rounded
out the presentation: a delightful event feature. Thank you NEPCA!
with an elaborate breakfast buffet, a regular and popular daily
convention benefit. The presentation by Gay Taylor of the Museum
of American Glass followed - an insightful historical walk through
the ages on the development of lampwork. It reminded us that compressed
gas and oxygen torches are, historically, a relatively recent innovation:
whale oil, lard, or other oily combustibles in simple wicked containers,
the flame intensified with foot operated bellows, was the usual
heat source. The marvelous transition of the artistry to the production
we see today is dramatic.
Taylor at the Podium
Josh Simpson, a
relative stranger to PCA members, captured and captivated his
audience with the story of his personal journey from college drop-out,
camping in a primitive shop in the Vermont snow to his sophisticated
studio of today. The presentation, perfectly labeled "Defying Gravity,"
focused on his production of the Corning Museum of Glass commissioned
work, a 100 plus pound "Planet" paperweight to round out their paperweight
collection to an even 1000. The logistics and management of the execution
required customizing everything to do with the project: furnace/pot
aperture, 50 pound blowpipe, blocking tools, jacks, to say nothing
of the issues of manipulating and working the glass and inclusions.
Success was earned but at a cost: 5 good ones in 16 attempts.
and illustrated presentation by Art Elder nicely covered the subject
of lampwork and flamework: comparisons in antique and contemporary
paperweights. Box lunches on Friday gave attendees the opportunity
to hear and interact informally with individual artists at "Lunch
and Learn" sessions. This was a popular feature in the past and
was endorsed again at this event with eight artists participating.
The Friday after
lunch sessions started with Colin Mahoney delivering a genealogical
review of artist Paul Ysart, his life and his forbears as well as
a comprehensive, illustrated review of his production work. The
presentation was liberally illustrated with photos, including many
Colin Mahoney Speaking on Paul Ysart
Breaking new ground,
Jami Severstad of the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum accepted a challenge
and researched the subject "Art in Paperweights." She transported
us on an interesting journey through the classical periods of artistic
expression, transitioning from ancient to contemporary art: the design
elements in classical architecture, content and figures in fabric
such as tapestries, and other practical expressions. It seemed to
her that the same forces and esthetic that produced those elements,
figures and designs would also logically influence and appear in glass.
She produced photographic illustrations to persuade and validate her
conclusions. Kathy Moyer followed with an interesting chronology of
prices earned at paperweight auctions: the vagaries of prices, assorted
factors possibly influencing prices and other assorted angles.
Roger Jacobsen literally brought Union Glass Weights to life by
recruiting John Buonomo and Annette Fahey, grandson and youngest
daughter of famous Union Glass Company paperweight maker Philip
Buonomo, to participate in his presentation. Fascinating anecdotes
were told: sneaking forbidden peaks under the attic door to watch
his grandfather working glass with a foot-operated bellows enhanced
Bunsen burner (where was OSHA?) and a portrayal of the remarkable
fecundity of the family. The Buonomo family's interest in preserving
their heritage is reinforced by their perception of our shared interest.
One of the most
popular, recurring features of PCA conventions, the identification
clinic, lived up to its appeal this year with some fresh faces participating.
Jayne Gilbert, President of the Texas PCA moderated and in some
cases, refereed. Patty Mowatt joined Alan Kaplan (he of Antique
Road Show fame) and a true newcomer, Gary Underwood, to comprise
the panel. It seems that Murano weights puzzle collectors more as
they predominated among the unknowns. But interesting diverse opinions
kept the panel and the listeners very much alert, humored, and forever
Clinic - Left to Right:
Jayne Gilbert, Alan Kaplan,
Patty Mowatt and Gary Underwood
The mandatory PCA
business meeting completed the final day morning activities with
official committee and officer reports to the members that included
announcements of the new slate of elected officers, a listing of which
was presented in last quarter's Newsletter.
The final afternoon
and evening of Convention '07 began with a patriotic theme — Stanley
Kruger, discussing and illustrating "American Flag Paperweights."
Only the enthusiasm and vitality of Stan, a patriot himself, transcended
the interesting content of his illustrated presentation. Ed Poore,
a name and face well known to virtually all collectors, followed
Stan, sharing the experiences and growth early in his career at
Pairpoint, eventually opening his own business, by then a master
cutter and superb restorer. His presentation with illustrations
persuasively validated his words. Alan Thornton of England, the
final presenter of the convention, spoke on "New Discoveries in
Old English Paperweights." His material is nicely covered in the
2007 PCA Bulletin.
And then, shopping
completed, didactic programs over, members got gussied up for the
closing banquet. A social cocktail hour in the hotel Rotunda allowed
for farewells with friends old and new followed by an attentively
served and outstanding meal, measured against usual hotel banquet
fare. Each table place setting had a gift souvenir commemorative
John Deacons, dated paperweight with rose canes and an encircling
torsade on assorted clear color grounds — a nice take-home remembrance
for each registered guest.
A generous number
of gift door prizes donated by our registered dealers made many
happy faces. And four more pleased individuals took home raffle
weights from the New England PCA fundraiser - Robert Petro, Kansas
(Ayotte), Peggy Kirkegaard, Colorado (Kaziun), Gary DiGregorio,
Massachusetts (Tarsitano), and Peggy Morrow, Illinois (Simpson).
made acknowledgments with commendation for the service of selected
individuals contributing to PCA activities and convention
planning, and gave special thanks and parting gifts to outgoing
Treasurer Barry Schultheiss and Newsletter Editor Colin Mahoney
for their many years of service. His final official act was to present
the symbol of authority, the glass gavel, to incoming President
Regrets to those
members who were unable to attend an excellent convention, but there
will be another in only two years, so stand by.
"Gratitude, nowise gushy nor garish, instead spins soul warmth from threads of thankfulness."
is, as you know, a volunteer organization. Many people, often unacknowledged,
work hard with job satisfaction and joyous collegiality their principal
reward. In any group, success depends not only on developing a happy
spirit within the group but also on the cultivation of a pervasive
"attitude of gratitude," a phrase one self-help group promotes as
essential to a happy life. Therefore, I want to express my gratitude
for the contributions our members have made to the organization
generally and to the convention particularly:
- First of
all, praise to Jim Lefever, our recent past president, twice a
vice president who had to step in and fill a vacancy at the top.
- Thanks also
to two members who each gave more than 12 years of service to
the PCA: Barry Schultheiss as treasurer and Colin Mahoney as editor
of the Newsletter.
to Jayne Gilbert for interfacing PCA and the regional associations.
- Big bouquets
to everyone who did the hard work of producing the convention:
Rostker, convention co-chairperson, who was responsible for
all arrangements at the hotel and outside as well. Excellent
Hawley, editor of our Bulletin, who provided all of
the images for the ID Clinic and was also a main session speaker.
Pitt, dealers' representative, who worked mightily to insure
the success of the Dealers' Fair.
- Ed Sheldon,
who created the publicity packet that won for us excellent
coverage in press and television.
Mowatt, who oversaw registration efforts, and coordinated
work with NEPCA.
- The New
England Paperweight Collectors Association, both at the convention
and at the Sandwich Museum of Glass - New President Clara
Ayotte; Diane Warning, NEPCA convention liaison to the PCA,
recording secretary for the PCA and new Secretary
for the NEPCA; Emile Tetu, NEPCA treasurer, and his wife Sue;
Donna Willey, NEPCA corresponding secretary, and her husband
Bruce; Roger Jacobsen, and Andrea Natsios.
Polish grandmother used to tell me that a good heart is made better
by being thankful for blessings. In that spirit, we direct a heaping
measure of gratitude to the above and to all the dedicated people
whose hard work make the PCA a successful organization.
Bernard A. Drabeck