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Overlay and Printies Techniques

Illinois State Museum
> Overlay and Printies Techniques


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	 D. Barker The Collection History of Paperweights ManufacturersTechniquesRelated Objects Gallery of Paperweights Glossary of terms Paperweight Resources Search

Turquoise Overlay
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Saint Louis, circa 1845-55


Overlay paperweights are those which have been cased, or completely enveloped, in one or two layers of glass. The casing, or overlay, of one glass over another was the direct result of early-nineteenth century attempts to duplicate the technique used in the creation of the ancient Roman Portland Vase in the British Museum.The glassmaker cut concave or flat windows (see below) through these colored layers of concealing glass to reveal the internal designs in the paperweight, for example, a millefiori mushroom.

The Barker Collection includes many examples of these magnificent paperweights, such as the Clichy overlay mushroom and the St. Louis overlay upright bouquet. A blue and a pink "encased-overlay" St. Louis weight each illustrate the further embellishment of the double overlay process. These weights were encased in yet another layer of glass - an astounding technological achievement.

Overlay with Upright Bouquet
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Saint Louis, circa 1845-55

After an overlay has been put on a paperweight, it is necessary to cut some windows through which the viewer can see the interior design. Facets are also often cut in clear glass paperweights to give a visual effect.

These windows are called printies. The glassmaker cuts them by grinding the surface of the weight on a wheel made of stone or wood. it required great skill to cut even parallel rows of printies, The placement of the printies was important, too. The purpose was to enhance the design, not interfere with it. Examples of clear paperweights in the collection with printies are yellow Baccarat lampworked clematis weight, a Clichy garland millefiori weight with vertical flutes and a circular printy on top, and a Baccarat sulphide portrait of Napoleon III.

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