Blobs of Glass? Or, the Most Amazing Conservation Weights!

This post comes from Nicole Monjeau and Natasa Krsmanovic, Rakow Library interns who worked on conserving the Whitefriars cartoon collection over the summer. Read more about this project in previous posts.

One of the first things my co-intern, Natasa Krsmanovic, and I noticed on our first day at Corning was the amazing glass weights in the lab. There was trouble sourcing these for the project, but luckily we are working at a glass museum! Eric Meek, the manager of the hot glass programs at the museum, was asked to create some for us.

glass weights

Some of the glass weights custom made for the project.

These weights are phenomenal for a few reasons. One, glass is an inert material, so you do not have to worry about coatings, off-gassing, and so forth. Second, the glass has a nice weight to it–the weights are heavy enough to hold an object in place but not so heavy as to damage the object. Third, they are transparent, allowing you to see the object below. Finally, the edges of the weights are round, preventing any punctures to the object.

row of glass weights

A row of glass weights lined up.

We have used them to help with a variety of treatments in the lab. During photo documentation, we have placed them at the edges to help the rolled objects lay flat. Because they are transparent, no information on the object is lost. They are also helpful when unrolling a roll, making handling easier. When aligning tears they are very useful because you can see when you have properly aligned the object.

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We were lucky enough to get the opportunity to try our hand at making these weights. As it turns out, years of experience as a glass artist really helps! Eric made it look so easy, but we found the blowpipe to be very heavy, which made it difficult to distribute the glass on the table.

flameworking glass weights

Natasa watches as Eric flameworks a glass weight.

making the glass weights

Nicole gets ready to place the molten glass on the table.

One of the elements of the glass weights we wanted to see if we could adjust was the ridged bottoms. These occur because of the rapid cooling when the glass hits the metal table. To try and reduce the ridges, Eric suggested flameworking the bottom. While this worked, this also caused the weight to have a yellow tint to it. Eric did suggest a few other ways of manipulating glass to give a smooth base while retaining the curved edges we liked so much.

glass weights

Eric’s elegant weights on the bottom, our less elegant attempt at the top.

We really enjoyed working with these weights over the summer, and were so happy to have the opportunity to make our own!

Catch up on the progress of the Whitefriars project.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (#LG-55-14-0110-14).

This post was originally published on Nicole Monjeau Conservation.

The Rakow Research Library is open to the public 9am to 5pm every day. We encourage everyone to explore our collections in person or online. If you have questions or need help with your research, please use our Ask a Glass Question service.

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