We were there! And it was great to see everyone and meet new friends. It has been nearly three months since the convention so we were overdue for a get-together. The Illinois PCA, led by Jane Stein, met at the Arlington Heights restaurant “Rack House, Kitchen & Tavern”. The gang met in a private room in the back of the restaurant, overlooking the terrace. Since it was a nice, warm sunny day, the displayed paperweights glowed in the sunlight, enhancing their beauty.
Luckily, everyone was cool, indoors, with drinks in hand.
Paperweight artists Damon MacNaught and David Graeber had trekked from their respective homes of Tennessee and New Jersey to Illinois earlier that week, in part to give a lecture on their craft to the Northwestern Osher Lifelong Learning Institute on Thursday, July 16, 2015 (more about that in a future blog post) but also to visit family in the area. How fortunate that they both could attend the Sunday meeting!
Both artists brought new pieces with them to share with the group and the first hour was spent ogling them (the pieces). Several of the paperweights found themselves with figurative promise rings before the meal even began!
Lunch was chimed and the light conversation continued through the salad and main course. There was a great presentation setup, with a projection screen above the fireplace, so Damon stepped up to the plate first to present a PowerPoint compilation of his studio and work process.
Damon is an experienced teacher and presenter, and his presentation was stellar. He described his beginnings as a paperweight artist, being nearly coerced by Jim Brown, but not quite, into making paperweights. Damon also shared that he and Jim recently organized a museum display for a prominent collector at the Cumberland University main library in Tennessee. Great work, gentlemen! We got a peek into Damon’s country life on a beautiful farm, with his feline studio companion who chases the mice and discerningly throws paperweights off the table.
There were some wonderful photos of his daughters and also some insider information about new paperweight-related vessels and other millefiori innovations to come and continued collaborations with glasscutter Andy Najarian.
A little break for announcements followed Damon’s presentation and dessert trays of sweet treats were served.
David then took the stage and started off with a fantastic and sentimental photomontage of his daughter’s graduation into the U.S. Air Force. As you know, this event inspired a tremendous paperweight entitled “Wild Blue”. Very touching. He continued with photos and stories of his beginnings as a paperweight artist, including building a studio from scratch with his son Kyle after removing the family swimming pool to create space on the land. Oh, the sacrifices! He also shared some of the adventures on which he has embarked to get closer to his lampwork subjects like working in cranberry bogs and doing an apprenticeship as a beekeeper.
His presentation was just wonderful, filled with spectacular photos of his pieces and a video of his lampworking technique to make the exquisite (now famous) lilacs. Less not forget the important mention of David’s collaboration with Ed Poore, glasscutter extraordinaire. Near the end, David gave us a peek into his upcoming work. We won’t spoil the secret, but a picture is worth a thousand words.
What a great honor to have had the chance to break bread with such great artists and we looking forward to the next meeting!