Charles Kaziun Junior
One of the pioneers of paperweight making, Charles Kaziun began working in 1939 to rediscover the lost techniques of the French glass factories. His work includes a wide range of millefiori, lampwork and crimp flower paperweights, as well as faceted perfume bottles and other related items. Kaziun began his career by patiently observing a family of glassblowers demonstrating lampwork at the annual fair in Brockton, Massachusetts, when he was just a boy. Through persistence, he was allowed to work with them, creating his own off-hand pieces. Initially Kaziun had a pragmatic approach to the art, "On graduating from high school (in 1937), the Depression being still on, to pursue my first love, chemistry, didn’t seem prudent, as jobs were scarce; but I reasoned a craft such as glassblowing might be a stepping stone for the future. Besides, in a trade, one could be self-employed.”
After reading Evangeline Bergstrom’s seminal book on classic French paperweights, as well as being goaded by a Francophile coworker regarding the supremacy of these antique glassworkers, Kaziun felt he too could get all those wonderful colors inside glass. "I embarked on a campaign of rediscovering all the old techniques of a century past, that had been forgotten even by the factories that had done the original work,” Kaziun said. "And, I was doing all this by working over a burner.” Kaziun honed his skills as a scientific glassblower during World War II, striving always to unravel the mysteries of glass. He had an active mind and agile hands and sought more, and more challenging glass techniques by his own trial and error. "I continued scientific work on paperweights until paperweights won out. My making paperweights represents to me the very essence of glassworking, even becoming a way of life rather than just a vocation.”
Through his glasswork he was introduced to Emil Larson, and through Emil, the Millville rose, which became another icon of glass perfection in league with the French antiques. After almost four years, however, and several thousand dollars worth of experimentation, Kaziun perfected his version of the crimp rose. And in spite of the obsession with roses in Jersey, over the years Kaziun created a wide range of flower paperweights, incorporating the pansy, hibiscus, dogwood, convolvulus, and in one of his most popular pieces, a miniature spider lily. Kaziun also produced excellent spaced and patterned millefiori on colored grounds which were often flecked with gold. His millefiori paperweights often included silhouette canes of his own design. He perfected a swirling latticinio cane and a brilliant two-sided torsade. Many pieces include goldfoil butterflies and bumblebees, and the characteristic 14-karat gold signature. Early paperweights contain a millefiori signature cane which is integrated into the design. This was done to show that Kaziun was making paperweights in the style of the past, but was not trying to pass them for antiques. After several decades, with a prodigious output of glass buttons, bottles, and most importantly, paperweights, Kaziun had become aware of younger, independent artists, coming to prominence experimenting with glass just as he had done, but with fewer obstacles. Good, clean crystal; expansion ratios; effective burners and annealing temperatures; stable color formulas. These were all discoveries Kaziun had had to make, literally cook up, on his own.