How to get a glass paperweight restored
January 18, 2010 12:29 PM   Subscribe

How could I get a many-decades-old glass paperweight brought back to life?

I've got a glass paperweight (about the size of a baseball) that sat for years on my grandfather's desk, then on my mother's, and now for many years on mine. Over the years, it's accumulated a few dings and more than a few scratches. It seems to me that someone with the right skills could roll back the decades on it. (Resurfacing somehow? Filling or buffing?) It's of no great value except in sentiment, so the idea of "never restore an antique" doesn't really enter in. I'd like to get in touch with somneone who does that sort of work, but my Google skills fail me. I get lost in a sea of auto glass repair and stained glass windows.

Can anyone here point me to someone who does that sort of work where I might ask about sending it to them for some restoration?
posted by tyllwin to Grab Bag (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Hmmm... somebody like this looks really high-end - more $$ than I interpret you wanting, but maybe worth taking a look. His was the first name that came up under "art glass restoration" but there seem to be others - maybe you could find somebody nearby to talk to. Another option would be just to contact any glass artists in your area, who either could help you or might know who could.
posted by aimedwander at 12:40 PM on January 18, 2010

I totally made one of those in tech. ed. in middle school (it even had the pretty spiraling colors through the middle) and we sanded some cool edges in with some huge sanding thinger and made them super glassy looking with a huge industrial cloth buffer thinger. I bet if you went to your local middle/high school tech. ed. dept they'd be able to hook you up (and if not they might know someone who can).
posted by kthxbi at 1:06 PM on January 18, 2010

Without seeing the object in question (and seeing the extent of the imperfections) it is hard to say exactly what tooling I would want to use to restore it.

That said, it may just need some compound and a buffing wheel. If it is that simple, it is probably best not to send it away, but maybe take it to a neighborhood shoe repair shop, and see if a little buffing wheel elbow grease can't shine it up. They'd probably be happy to mess with it for you and not charge a whole lot. Go in when they aren't busy and see if you can't strike up a conversation.
posted by milqman at 1:26 PM on January 18, 2010

You may want to contact your local university MFA Program. I know several glass majors that would probably be willing to help fix it up for a nominal fee.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 1:47 PM on January 18, 2010

You might be able to do it yourself -- add a little more family history to it...
I would think that the same techniques used to polish homemade telescope mirrors should be applicable to your paperweight.
Mark's Notes for the Amateur Telescope Maker
Supplies for Mirror Making and Telescope Building
posted by crenquis at 3:26 PM on January 18, 2010

Response by poster: I'd love to, crenquis, but having zeo skill, I worry that I'd screw it up beyond repair. I think something like esmerelda_jenkins answer is what I really want: small, non-pretentious, but experienced. I'll try that first and the some of the other suggestions if that doesn't pan out.

Thanks, all!
posted by tyllwin at 4:59 PM on January 18, 2010

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