Featured Artist Archive > December, 2011
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click picture to enlarge
Hanson spent his young life in Michigan, later moving to Wisconsin where he pursued
a varied career for nearly 40 years which included cartography, land use planning,
regional transport planning, managing the transportation services for a shortline
railroad, and eventually "retiring" as a traffic engineering systems technician
specializing in traffic signal systems. Greg became fascinated with glass for
its beauty and the magic of manipulating and watching hot glass. In 2004 glass
became his primary vocation and after a short spell in California he moved to
Portland, Oregon in 2007.
works with a specialized torch and borosilicate glass tubes and rods, to create
blown beads, ornaments, goblets, and perfumes as well as his solid form paperweights,
cabochons, buttons, and marbles. He uses a technique that emulates the offhand
glassblowing process - blowing and manipulating a "gather" of glass at the end
of a glass tube or solid rod in a fashion similar to working a gather of glass
at the end of a blowpipe. He developed this technique in the early 1980s at a
time when lampworking information was virtually non-existent and colored borosilicate
glass all but impossible to find, especially in the hinterlands of Wisconsin.
1990s and the early 2000s Greg made flat buttons for use primarily as closures
for beaded bracelets and necklaces as well as for clothing, knitwear, purses,
etc. During those years he intermittently experimented with making paperweight
type buttons using techniques he had developed for making marbles and cabochons.
At button shows he began to collect paperweight buttons and learn about their
history, searching for information on the early paperweight button makers especially
Charles Kaziun, Jr. who started his paperweight making career making paperweight
style buttons. The information about Kaziun led to further research on the golden
age paperweights, 1840-1860, and Greg also built up a collection of the old Annual
Bulletins of the Paperweight Collectors Association.
has continued to develop his own methods and style and whilst the concept of a
paperweight is easy to understand, he has found the actual making of millefiori,
forming flower forms, learning proportions, understanding the magnification effect
of the glass cap, etching, cutting and polishing, etc. is a very complicated process
involving many steps from initial planning to final cold working. Greg has also
made his own wooden shaping tools, wooden millefiori cups, and cutting setups
to facilitate his paperweight making, all of which he found had their own learning
makes his paperweights with borosilicate glass which behaves very differently
from soft glass. Borosilicate glass is much stiffer than soft glass, i.e., it
does not flow like soft glass which creates another set of challenges. Also, the
borosilicate color range is very limited compared to soft glass. Many of the colors
are composed of metallic oxides that react to the flame environment (oxidation
and reduction) and change with working time. And also, upon re-annealing, the
oxide colors continue to change with each annealing cycle — with some pieces living
in the kiln for months before he is satisfied with the development of the color.
The oxide laden colors also affect the adjacent colors, producing another layer
of complexity in determining which colors work well together and how to effectively
utilize this characteristic.
people have suggested that Greg should turn to soft glass to make paperweights
but he appreciates the remarkable qualities of borosilicate glass that give him
the freedom to create in his own way.
Hanson's work is displayed in galleries and museums in many States of the US and
in Japan. His glass creations are in collections throughout the US, Scandinavia,
Europe, South America, Japan and China. This picture shows a selection of styles
and surface treatments of Greg's button paperweights.
of his work can be seen on his website at www.hanson-stone.com
and Greg can be contacted at email@example.com.