“Megaplanet Paperweight” by Josh Simpson.
4.25″ diameter. Signed on bottom. Artist card included.
A spaceship hover over this light blue planet. Highlighted with large clusters of red and white cane outcroppings.
Shelburne Falls, MA
“I like to pack Planets with more information than the naked eye can possibly see.” A planet begins with a small glob of glass heated in a furnace to 2100 degrees F and gathered on the end of the blowpipe. Silver is melted onto the hot surface, and after reheating, Josh then adds powdered glass, glass canes and sometimes gold or platinum leaf which become the planet's cities, mountains, volcanos, tornadoes or satellite launching areas. Josh gathers multiple layers of clear glass over the Planets and adds spaceships. The Planet is then ready to be shaped in a wet wooden block. When the shape is perfect the little world is taken off the blowpipe and put into the annealing oven where it will cool down slowly.
Josh Simpson first experimented with glass when he was a student at Hamilton College in 1970. Over the last 35 years, his art has evolved as he experimented and learned from making countless mistakes. He has found inspiration in NASA images of Earth and other natural phenomena.
While he has been successful creating unique goblets, vases and bowls, perhaps his greatest satisfaction is derived from his planets: luminous glass spheres encasing kaleidoscopic landscapes, underwater scenes and vistas of outer space that reflect the Earth and the vastness and complexity of the universe.
In 2005, the Corning Museum of Glass commissioned Josh to create what became the world's largest glass paperweight. The making of this Simpson planet was the subject of the high definition PBS documentary “Defying Gravity.” Weighing 107 pounds, the planet became part of Corning's permanent collection in November 2006.
Josh has devoted himself to mastering all aspects of glassmaking by designing and building his own furnaces and tools, learning glass chemistry to create his own spectrum of colors, and mastering ancient techniques of glassmaking.
His work is in the permanent collections of many museums. Most recently the Huntsville Museum of Art has honored him with a 35 year retrospective exhibit. Josh Simpson has had one-man shows all over the world, has taught at schools, museums, and workshops, and has had a lot of fun along the way.