Wheaton Paperweight Festival

Jun 14, 2010 - Jun 16, 2010

Mitch and I attended Wheaton's 2010 Paperweight Festival this year and, boy, are we glad we did! Even though the timing of our current auction didn't allow us to come as dealers, we still felt we left Wheaton enriched by the friendships we made. We did our absolute best to try to meet as many people as possible, and the people we were fortunate enough to meet certainly lived up to their glowing reputations. For those of you with whom we did not have a chance to talk, we want you to know that not only is our door always open, but that we plan on being around for a LONG time and so are counting on having many more opportunities to get to know you.

The highlights for us at this year's Wheaton 2010 Paperweight Festival are too many to list here (and keep the reader's attention), so here are just a few that stood out:

Without a doubt the Lunch and Learns were a fantastic opportunity for Mitch and me to get up close and personal with the artists we have grown to respect so much. Rick and Melissa Ayotte, Jim Brown, and Drew Ebelhare presented on Friday, while David Graeber, Peter McDougall, and Alison Rusza presented on Saturday. Mike Hunter also gave a lecture on Saturday entitled "What's New from Twists Glass." All I can say is WOW!! Look out for what these artists are working on!! Sooo much innovation and creativity that it was truly amazing to see it firsthand.

The lectures throughout the weekend were very interesting. I particularly appreciated the work each presenter put into preparing their presentation. There were a number of very helpful insights from real experts who have obviously done a lot of research and who enjoy generously sharing their expertise. The lectures alone are worth the price of admission!

The Artists Jam was particularly exciting this year. (See attached photos) We not only witnessed the assembling of the largest sulphide ever, but Mike Hunter and Gordon Smith put on an excellent show as well! All of this was presided over by special guest and paperweight legend Paul Stankard, who not only played the role of auctioneer for the pieces created, but narrated the whole event in such a way that only Paul can pull off; nobody can combine expertise and humor as well as he can! In attendance at the jam were Nontes and James Kontes, who sat on either side of Rick Ayotte during the event. For me, it was truly awe inspiring to see such paperweight legends sitting together. I couldn't help but snap a photo of the three observing the event as it played out.

The banquet held Saturday night was a feast indeed!! Delicious food mixed with good company was just the way to close the event. The raffle held some particularly exciting results for Mitch and me. Mitch won a Lundberg Studios end of day scramble donated by paperweight legend and beloved friend of our Santa Cruz native gallery, Danny Salazar. I came away with a beautiful pendant of Mike Hunter's which is already around the neck of my girlfriend (and new paperweight enthusiast), Casey.

The paperweight community has been so welcoming and gracious to us. By the end of the weekend we felt as if we had been lifelong friends with many of the members. A sincere thank you goes out to not only the staff of Wheaton Arts for putting on such a well planned and executed event, but to the PCA for their continued efforts to bring the paperweight community together for some fun and excitement. We are doing our best to plan our first event here in Chicago for late this summer. Everyone is of course invited! We can't wait to see all of our new friends again!

-Ben Clark