Thursday, November 20, 2008

Family Passions Passed Down

I have been thinking a lot about family lately.

Loved ones facing crisis, emails from family on different sides of the country, my heart is aching a bit right now and my brain has turned to stories from the past.

My maternal grandmother, Birdy Bergstrom, passed away before I was born. The story here is that she was an avid paperweight collector, her collection combined with her sister-in-law's to create the foundation of a paperweight museum. Her brother John had bequeathed his house to the city of Neenah Wisconsin, along with the glass paperweight collections, to become the Bergstrom Mahler Paperweight Museum.

My mother grew up in Neenah WI, just around the corner from her Aunt and Uncle Evangeline and John - she remembers them quite well. I grew up in Cleveland, OH, and there were paperweights throughout the house, dotting the mantel and holding books in place on various shelves. It wasn't until I was in my 20's that my mother took me to the Museum (we were in WI for a family reunion) and I got to learn all about the paperweights.

It felt as though a passion of my grandmother's had been passed down to me. I had begun blowing glass a few years before learning about the Museum and paperweights have always been a favorite of mine. I remember making paperweights in my first glass class and thinking that I could just make paperweights for the rest of the 8 week class! They were so amazing! Here's a picture of one of the first paperweights I made back in 1999. (its probably not the first one, I gave most of my paperweights away in the beginning and this is just the first one I found around the house when I went to take some pictures just now)
Its interesting to me that although I never met the woman, my mother's mother, I feel a bond with her that we both enjoy glass. Thats a good feeling.

The last picture here is of the front of the paperweight in the first picture. Its a special edition paperweight featuring Evangeline Bergstrom, I believe they were created when the Museum was founded. As you can see in the engraving on the back, I have the 3rd of 250 that were created! It was one of the paperweights I grew up with in my Ohio home and when I became a full time glass artist it was given to me.
Evidently a passion for glass runs thick in the blood.


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