History Of Joe Rice Art Glass Maker:
Joe Rice is the great-grandson of John St. Clair a
Alsance- Lorraine, France.
new glass houses.
new glass houses.
John St. Clair passed the craft on to his son John B. (Pop) St. Clair. Pop
began working for the MacBeth-Evans Glass Company in Elwood where he
discovered his passion for making paperweights. Pop often worked after
hours perfecting his craft, which he taught his five sons. By 1937 the
MacBeth-Evans plant closed and Pop and two of his sons went to work at a
glass house in West Virginia. In 1938 Pop?s son Joe started St. Clair Glass
and was joined by Pop and his brothers Bob and Paul three years later. By
the age of 16, Joe Rice?s uncles Joe and Bob had taught him the craft of
making paperweights, which made Joe the youngest paperweight artist in
In the 1930s and 1940s hand-crafted glass paperweights and vases were
considered novelty items. It was not until the late middle of the Twentieth
Century that the studio glass movement created an interest in glass as an
art form by collectors. Early pioneers like Dale Chihuly and Harvey
Littletons inspirational art glass brought the craft as an art form to new
levels. Today, master gaffer Joe Rice continues the St. Clair tradition with
The House of Glass in Elwood, Indiana which Joe�s uncle Bob originally
operated as the St. Clair House of Glass. Tom St. Clair is also continuing the
family tradition in nearby Anderson, Indiana with Tom St. Clair Studio Glass.
Joe Rice glass making process is essentially the same that his uncles and
grandfather created using a five-member team. The process starts by
taking time to mix their crystal batch for 3 � hours using a cement mixer.
The ingredients for the glass batch are silica sand, limestone, sodium ash,
and feldspar. The batch is placed into the furnace for 24 hours at about 2600
degrees. For color Joe uses cullet form the nearby Kokomo Opalescence
Glass Company. The cullet is ground and screened in 350-lb units and used
for decorating his art glass. Many of the tools used by Joe Rices team were
made by his uncles or were made at the old MacBeth-Evans Blacksmith
shop in the 1920s.
Three generations of Joe Rice’s family have built glass in Elwood, Indiana.
Joe Rice continues to work in his grandfather
John St Clair’s style, which is highly collectible.
With his crew, Rice produces distinctive floral
pattern paperweights in his factory, The House of