2018 marks the eightieth year since St. Clair Glass first began production in the tiny shop in Elwood, Indiana. My Uncles, Paul and Joe St. Clair remained with their families in Elwood after Macbeth-Evans ceased operations in 1936. They scavenged the material to build the first small factory from discarded parts of the Macbeth-Evans plant. In September 1938 the building was finally complete and St. Clair glass began with Paul and Joe St. Clair making the first flower designed weights that became the family trademark.
I began at the age of 12 in 1962 working in the shop at 408 North Fifth Street in Elwood. Paul, Joe, Ed, and Bob St. Clair were instrumental in instilling in me the love of the craft. Their stories and skills became my dreams and ambitions. My uncles informed me of the many methods to produce paperweights in the traditional family method. I was 14 when I began gathering bits of molten glass, learning how to mold and shape the glass as they directed. My early years of formation were times of struggle. Often my mistakes ended up as floor samples and were recycled. Persistence and the patient firm guidance of my uncles sharpened my artistic style. By the time I was 21, I was able to produce most of the items my grandfather and uncles produced, including my very first crimped rose paperweight. My transformation developed slowly. I continued making glass art in the family way, yet began to develop a certain personal signature.
October 1987 began a new era of family tradition. I am a third generation glass artist. I purchased much of the equipment, tools, supplies and property used to rebuild Maude and Bob StClair House of Glass. The remaining equipment from Macbeth-Evans, StClair Glass and Maude and Bob StClair House of Glass was purchased from the sale of Uncle Joe StClair’s estate. The connection from my Grandfather, John “Pop” StClair, my Uncles, Paul, Joe, Ed and Bob, my mother Jane Ann StClair Rice for the next 30 years continued an 80-year family tradition. There were times of tremendous success and huge sacrifice. No sacrifice greater than the loss of my family and loved ones who dedicated their lives to shaping and forming more lives than glass.
June 2018 began a transition to retirement. I will cease production, the work of my life, at the end of 2018. My plan is to continue on a limited basis creating some glass that combines the best of all three generations from our rich family heritage and tradition. I truly desire that the dream and ambition of another lover of glass will begin a new and rich tradition of glass here on this sacred ground. I look forward to what the future brings you! Theodor Seuss Geisel said, “Don’t cry because it is over, smile because it happened.” Dr. Seuss.
Updated August 14, 2018
In early 2008, Lt. Governor Becky Skillman announced the launch of Indiana Artisana program that will support and promote Hoosier artisans and handmade products. Indiana Artisan is a joint venture of the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, the Indiana Office of Tourism Development, the Indiana Arts Commission and the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.
"Indiana is home to hundreds of talented artisans and boasts a variety of unique handmade products,” said Lt. Governor Skillman. “Governor Daniels and I are committed to supporting Hoosier entrepreneurs and promoting Indiana-made products. This project provides a unique opportunity to enhance the entrepreneurial culture than has been created in Indiana and attract visitors to our state."
The goals of Indiana Artisan include: raising awareness about the availability of hand-crafted and value-added food products made in Indiana; providing artisans, particularly those in rural areas, with access to entrepreneurial support; providing grant funding for artisan business development education and networking; promoting artisan trail development and retail opportunities; and developing branding for Indiana-made goods. Program initiatives are aimed at attracting in- and out-of-state visitors to individual artisan sites and arts-concentrated areas in Indiana.