News Home
Quick Bites
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
On AirNewsClassical
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Don Drumm Studios

Knight Foundation

Levin Furniture

For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )

Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Arts and Entertainment

Celebrating the father of the modern glass paperweight in Akron
Paul Stankard applies scientific glassblowing skills honed in industry to create miniature flowers and insects embedded in glass globes and cubes.

Vivian Goodman
First Bouquet, 1978, glass 2 in.x3 in .x3 in., Collection of the Akron Art Museum, Gift of Annie and Mike Belkin
Courtesy of Paul Stankard
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:
This week at the Akron Art Museum the world's largest collection of Paul Stankard's glass paperweights was installed in a new permanent display case above the museum's lobby. Clevelander Mike Belkin has donated 64 of the 300 Stankard pieces he purchased over the past three decades.
A master of glass

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (6:02)

(Click image for larger view.)

The world’s largest public collection of Paul Stankard’s glass sculptures and paperweights is now on permanent display at the Akron Art Museum.

Stankard, the father of the modern glass paperweight, is ruddy-faced, roly-poly, and one of nine children in an Irish-Catholic family.  The queen of England and Elton John collect his work. You’ll also find it at the Louvre and the Smithsonian.

He says, “I think of myself as a studio artist who works in glass.”

An industrial beginning 
At 68, he’s celebrating a half century as a glass master. At 18, Stankard was a poor student who thought he’d be a machinist. But when it came to enrolling at a community college in his native New Jersey, his dad decided he should study scientific glass-blowing instead.

After graduation he worked in industry making test tubes and beakers for   10 years. On the side, he says he made paperweights. He says he learned how from European co-workers at the glass factory.

 “When they finished their shift, generally there’d be some glass left in the tank and they could play with what was left and would make what they had made in Europe. I was told that it was a lost art and the secrets were gone, and so that was kind of challenging.“ 

When he displayed some of his paperweights on the Atlantic City boardwalk a gallery owner took an interest and his career as an artist was launched.

The music mogul and paperweight collector 
Not long after that, a Cleveland music industry mogul discovered his art.   Stankard says his friend Mike Belkin is better known as a concert promoter.

“But Mike was an antique French paperweight collector. And he was at an auction in New York City and one of my early paperweights from the ‘70s was being auctioned off. And he was fascinated by the work and bought it. It’s hard to believe, over 30 years  Mike has collected my work. He and Annie are wonderful patrons of the arts.”

He says the Belkins gift to the Akron Art Museum is “a blessing” and he loves the way his glass art is displayed.

“It’s the newest, most advanced technology with the fiber optics illuminating the designs. It’s beautiful.”   

Stankard studies beauty.   He’s largely self-taught about arts and culture. He says he began delving into the great books, listening to the classics and studying the work of the masters for the sake of his own art.

 “I wanted to do important work. I wanted my work to be special. And the only way that I could make it special was to educate myself about what excellence is.” 

 A key influence is Walt Whitman. Like Stankard, the poet  loved to walk in the woods.

 “And it wasn’t until I started reading Whitman’s celebration of the ordinary as extraordinary that I began to see nature in a mystical way. Whitman expanded my reference to the mysteries of nature.” 

The technique Stankard uses  to interpret nature in glass is called flame-working. He re-melts  commercially available colored glasses and rods in a flame and manipulates the glass with  tweezers. 

He says he’s amused when people wonder whether the tiny figures of insects and flowers encased in his glass globes and cubes, are real.

  “My goal is to give the glass organic credibility. “

Listener Comments:

Good Morning Vivian, I just had the pleasure of re-listening to your interview from two years ago. It's a blessing to have nuanced background information on the Belkin Collection available to the public as a shared experience. With Gratitude, Paul

Posted by: Paul Stankard (Mantua, New Jersey 08051) on October 15, 2013 7:10AM
Add Your Comment


E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook

Stories with Recent Comments

Ottawa County Commissioner sworn in as new house member
Congratulations on your new appointment to the Ohio House. I'm certain you will do an outstanding job in your new role representing our district. When you have...

Holden Arboretum opens a new canopy walk and emergent tower
Visited the Holden Arboretum today to witness the incredible work you did constructing the tower and bridges.WOW! Very impressed. Knew the build had to be great...

Local club works to bring back the once-prevalent American elm
I would love to help! Where would I get some of the new Strain so I could plant them?

Four Geauga school districts consider consolidating on the Kent State campus
Berkshire was smart to merge with Ledgemont because it had shrinking enrollment and excess capacity at its high school. Now that Cardinal is dragging its feet ...

Ohio Rep. John Boccieri sworn into office and hopes to look for 'middle ground' with colleagues
Welcome back to the Statehouse, John. You are a terrific representative in the truest sense always representing the people's voice in teh district you serve. ...

Lawmakers call for indefinite freeze on Green Energy standards
It's a shame the Hudson Rep. Chooses to mimic the words of the extreme right senator on his way out to join ALEC when we know the Pope was just here because of...

Youngstown Schools file suit against the Ohio Department of Education to stop the implementation of an academic distress commission
Voters should ask WHY this plan was rushed into law under the cover of darkness. What clues point to the beneficiaries of this plan? Both Patrick O'Donnell of...

More join the battle against Ohio's current forfeiture laws
NOT TRUE IN OHIO! ! My cousin's 8 rental houses were siezed in the early 2000s. He was a decorated Cleveland Police officer and detective (now retired). His dis...

Great Lakes conference considers a range of threats
Your article states "Studies discovered over half of all PAHs found in the Great Lakes region come from a single source: Coal tar sealants.". I'm curious to whi...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University