Has anyone ever actually asked for a paperweight for Christmas or their birthday, or put it on their shopping list? I know I've never thought "Gee, I sure have a problem with my papers blowing around, and I could use something decorative to weigh them down." I suppose that means paperweights are a somewhat frivolous gift, the kind you give to the person who has everything. But when you think about it, most Americans already have everything, don't we?
During the last several months I've been on the hunt for vintage glass paperweights, the kind that have a photo underneath. Recently, I purchased four at an estate sale for about $3 each. That's a pretty good deal for beautiful old glass.
Perhaps the reason for the low prices was the pictures weren't very interesting, and/or had a lot of deterioration. That's exactly what I wanted, because I've been conspiring to make my own upcycled paperweights and would be removing the old pictures anyway.
The picture below shows the undersides of my paperweights. The paper is peeling and will certainly come off easily by soaking in water:
If you want to try this project but are thinking there's no way you'll be able to find vintage paperweights, don't despair! You can buy new glass supplies online at Affordable Paperweights.
If you are using old paperweights, the first step is to clean the glass by soaking in soapy water to remove any old paper and glue. For new glass, simply clean with glass cleaner to make sure there aren't any fingerprints or lint on it. Then select the images you want to add. You might want to peruse images at The Graphics Fairy, or my Vintage Graphics category. I have taken images from an old scrapbook to Staples and copied them on a high quality laser printer.
Trace around the paperweights and cut out the paper to fit:
To give the paper a sturdy base, cut out a piece of matt board or cardboard of the same size, and adhere the paper to it with UHU glue. I made sure the paper adhered well to the matt board by smoothing with a brayer.
The final step is to glue the picture to the glass. Dab some E-6000 glue directly on the rim of the base of the glass, then press the picture firmly on it. I don't have a picture of this step, but it's very simple. The paperweight glass is concave, so you won't be putting glue directly on the image area, just the edges of your image will be stuck to the rim of the glass. And that's all there is to it!
A variation for the back of the paperweight would be adding felt, or coating the matt board with a couple coats of Mod Podge to make it water resistant.
This paperweight would appeal to both dog and cat lovers:
The image below required a bit of collage work. The bird was cut from a separate sheet and added above the girls:
The roses pattern (below left) was actually old drawer liner paper. Wallpaper or scrapbook paper could be used too:
Some of the matt board I used was actually vintage. I know it's not "archival", but that doesn't really bother me. I cut the matt board with scissors, then used a emery board to smooth the edges:
This image from a Victorian-era calling card fit this oval paperweight just perfectly:
Maybe paperweights aren't the most useful items, but they make a fun little collection. I hope you might be inspired to make a few yourself!