He turned over towards the light and lay gazing into the glass paperweight. The inexhaustibly interesting thing was…the interior of the glass itself. There was such a depth of it, and yet it was almost as transparent as air. It was as though the surface of the glass had been the arch of the sky, enclosing a tiny world with its atmosphere complete.
Nineteen Eight-Four, George Orwell (1949)
Tender’s paperweights are mouth-blown and hand shaped in England from coloured lead-free glass. A bubble of air is trapped inside a solid gather of glass, making them bottom-heavy, and satisfyingly heavy in the hand.
Rather than being cast or mechanically mould blown, as most glassware is today, this paperweight is free-blown in the manner that glass has been worked since the First Century BC. During the blowing process, the rod on which the piece is made leaves a ‘belly button’ or punty mark on the base. The punty mark is sometimes ground away, to leave a perfectly smooth bottom, but to show its construction story, here the punty mark is left to show the manufacturing process. The blue and green versions are blown from clear glass with a thin layer of coloured glass coating the inside of the bubble- from above the glass appears solidly coloured, but the clear base ban be seen at certain angles.
The final stage of production is to press one of Tender’s lost wax-cast solid brass jeans buttons, showing Plautus’ face, into the soft glass base. Then each paperweight must be carefully placed in an annealing oven, which cools it down very slowly, over twenty-four hours, so that the glass does not crack.
These paperweights are free blown and so vary slightly from piece to piece, however they all measure approximately 3″ (7.5cm) diameter. If necessary, mouth-blown glass should be washed by hand, and is not suitable for microwaves, ovens, or dishwashers.