Glass making is one of America’s oldest crafts—and art fused with history. Let’s go back in time for a minute . . .
One of America’s oldest towns, on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, is called “Sandwich”—incorporated back in 1637, Sandwich is well known for many things, especially its long-standing tradition of glass making.
It all started with the legendary Boston and Sandwich Glass Factory (better known as Sandwich Glass), which operated from 1825 until 1888. During that same time period in the Bay State, Pairpoint Glassworks was founded. It was Pairpoint, started in 1837, that solidified Sandwich’s place on the map as a center of quality glass making.
Today, Pairpoint remains America’s oldest glassworks, producing a sparkling assortment of decorative and daily-use pieces.
One our favorites is an artistic collection of hand-painted plates, tableware, and sun catchers from Anne C. Ross Glass, which became a division of Pairpoint when she joined the company in 2008.
Anne Ross started working with powdered glass as a specialized art form when she was just 12 years old. As a studio art major at Skidmore College, she concentrated her studies on design and the application of enamels to copper, silver, and gold. Several of Anne’s pieces are in private and museum collections around the world.
The process Anne uses to craft her signature glass art is quite fascinating. She begins by creating an original painting of the subject matter—flowers, birds, and lighthouses are just a few of her recognizable themes. Using that artwork as a template, she then cuts multiple stencils by hand.
Each painting’s series of stencils allows Anne to accurately reproduce her original designs. Atop a piece of plain, clear glass, she carefully sifts powdered glass enamels onto the stencil, one shape and color at a time. When the replicated painting is complete, another piece of the exact same glass is placed directly on top of it.
With the stenciled artwork between the two pieces of glass, this “sandwich” is placed upon a ceramic mold which goes into a kiln at the Pairpoint Glassworks factory, where it is fired to 1500oF for 5 hours. The two pieces of glass melt and fuse together, taking on the shape and texture of the fireproof mold and locking in the stenciled painting.
After cooling for an extended period of time, the edges of the kiln-fired glass items are ground smooth. Final steps include a thorough inspection and cleaning of each piece before it is individually hand-signed by the artist herself, Anne C. Ross.
It’s important to note that bubbling and crazing inside the glass is a natural occurrence from the firing, melting, and fusing process. These inherent qualities of fused glass make each piece unique, but do not compromise the quality or integrity of the finished product.
In fact, the double thickness of fused glass results in surprisingly durable and utilitarian items. You can use the plates and dinnerware without concern about the painted designs because the artwork is permanently captured inside the glass. All tableware is dishwasher-safe; however, due to metal particles in the enamels, they are not microwavable.
At your table or on display, you can share the timeless art of Anne C. Ross with family and guests every day. Whatever the season or occasion, Anne offers a collection of beautiful designs. From garden and floral themes for spring and summer to limited-edition holiday plates, every item is destined to become a cherished piece from America’s legendary glass history.
Founder and Proprietor, New England Everyday Goods & Farm Market, Jaffrey, NH.
Just a stone’s throw down the road from The Old Farmer’s Almanac headquarters, Jim and his wife Susan operate a sprawling retail store that specializes in useful and unusual products with interesting stories behind them.