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Featured Artist Archive > July, 2012


Paperweight by John Deacons
John Deacons
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Scotland has a long tradition of paperweight making, greatly influenced by the Ysart family. Salvador, the father and three of his sons founded Ysart Glass, later to become Vasart Glass and then Strathearn Glass. The most famous paperweight maker of the Ysart family, Paul, went his own way making paperweights at Moncrieff, Caithness Glass, and his own company at Harland in a career that spanned more nearly 60 years.

John Deacons started glassmaking in 1967 when he was apprenticed to Strathearn Glass. He recalls that it was a good place to work, with new facilities and a large company employer. However, less than a year later, Stuart Drysdale, the general manager of Strathearn, offered John the chance to join him, Jack Allan, Peter McDougall, and others from Strathearn in a new venture, Perthshire Paperweights, which would specialise in high-quality paperweights. John leapt at the chance and described his time at Perthshire Paperweights as "the best apprenticeship you can imagine". He was involved in every stage of setting up the factory and later became their master glassmaker.

John stayed for ten years but, always keen to explore his own ideas and designs, he left in 1978 to form his own paperweight company, J Glass. This was a much smaller operation than Perthshire Paperweights but the quality of J Glass paperweights was outstanding and these paperweights are highly sought after by collectors today. However, the company was hit by a recession in 1983 and was forced to close.

With time to think, John concluded that a J Glass type operation was no longer viable but a low cost one would be. In 1984, he set up a much smaller and low overhead studio attached to his house where he continues to this day assisted by his son Craig, still working to his original business plan.

Apart from his traditional millefiori designs, his work is produced in small numbers usually to specific customer requirements. John is greatly influenced by the classical French paperweights and his designs often have a common theme such as portholes and double torsades. But these themes are constantly evolving so that each new weight includes new features and techniques. Another theme has been silhouette canes. These are often combined with an "Upset muslin" or "Lace" ground using jumbled latticino cane to form the background. The paperweight shown here combines millefiori surrounding a central flower with a porthole above.

The strong tradition of superb millefiori and lampwork paperweight making in Scotland which began with the Ysarts, is continuing through John and Craig today. Their motto is "The best is yet to come". They can be contacted by email at

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