Carl Carter, a founding member, has thoughtfully researched the following history of our organization. Carl has, probably, the only complete record of the past PCA-TX newsletters, and he based the text on their record as well as his memory. The result is a very valuable documentation of how we got started and developed into our present group of enthusiastic collectors. Thanks very much to Carl for the time he spent researching and writing this very valuable record of our history.
The Paperweight Collectors Association of Texas was formally founded June 28, 1986 as a relationship of collectors and dealers of antique and contemporary glass paperweights. The purpose of the association was and is to further interest in the art of paperweights and to share group knowledge. Development of PCA-TX was the inspiration of Carl Carter, George Grupe, Harvey Jones and Robert White. From the very beginning of this organization the drive of their actions was to educate and inform as many people as possible about, the art, science, craft, structure and the history of art-glass paperweights. These aims, with structure and bylaws, were approached from many angles through the subsequent years and growing membership.
The organization began by meeting in restaurants, motels and each other’s homes. But, as our numbers grew we had to move to larger quarters. By the 2nd year we went from 11 members to 65. Paul and Margaret Jokelson honored us by attending and speaking at our 1st. Anniversary meeting. Early meeting topics or themes were: my latest, first, holiday, flora & fauna paperweight; millefiori, lampwork, torch work, overlays, sulphides, and cut weights, etc. The theme was a great way to break the ice and start conversations among the participants.
As part of our fundamental outreach to our members and potential new members, newsletters were important. We only had 2 newsletters the first year and now have 4 or 5 a year. The newsletter’s focus was to provide information to collectors about new and antique weights, publications, artists, auction dates and dealer schedules. As our newsletter grew we published interviews with such notables as Paul Jokelson, Charles Kazuin, Gerrie Casper, Debbie and Delmo Tarsitano. We also inserted color photographs in our newsletter. We added advertisers to help offset expenses. To expand our membership and educational goals we began to have meetings in several major Texas cities. In 1988 we added field trips to our meetings and started to visit private collections in members’ and other’s homes and artists’ studios. Our first major fundraising project was a raffle of a Chapter weight, of lamp work Texas bluebonnets, by Ken Rosenfeld. This was followed by raffles of other artists’ donated weights, silent auctions and Association “T” shirts.
In 1989, through gratis work and expertise by a couple of members, PCA-TX applied for and received exemption from Federal Income Tax under section 501 (A) as an educational organization described in section 501(c)(3). We became the 3rd largest PCA out of 15 in the world, with 105 members. To enhance our educational objectives, members developed a traveling display of paperweights, books and related objects, which were displayed in Texas libraries. We developed a speaker’s bureau so that members could present informative talks about paperweights to other social and service clubs and organizations. Members’ articles about their collections and PCA-TX were published in Texas newspapers.
As we grew we started attracting important local and distant paperweight dealers and glass artists. Some local galleries hosted meetings at their shops and sponsored speakers. In 1991 Larry Selman came to our Dallas meeting bringing Randy Grubb as guest artist, which attracted our largest attendance. This marked our first 5 years. Membership decided to hold a contest to find an Association logo. A swirl-weight design with a central Texas five pointed star cane and repeated state silhouettes canes was adopted. As a result of numerous loyal dealer visits and annual 3-day gallery extravaganzas we were able to meet many U.S. and overseas artists and learn about them, their craft and artistry on a first-name basis. These attractions helped recruit new members. Over the years we benefited from 34 different guest speakers and 16 different paperweight sellers/dealers.
In 1993 PCA-TX learned of the Bill and Irma Runyon Art Collection at Texas A&M University. We had no idea how important this collection and the Forsyth Center Galleries would become to PCA-TX. Timothy Novak, Director/Curator, invited the association to consider holding meetings at the Forsyth Center Galleries where we would be exposed to the rare glass and art collection and fine facilities. In 1994 the first significant exhibition of paperweights to be shown in Texas was organized by the Art Museum of Santa Cruz County, California, sponsored in part by L. H. Selman, Ltd and the International Paperweight Society. “The Art of the Paperweight – Challenging Traditions”. With the cooperation of Texas A&M and Mr. Novak, the exhibit was beautifully displayed in the Forsyth Center Galleries. We felt so fortunate to have attracted such an important exhibit to Texas whose focus was strictly on fine art-glass paperweights.
To enhance our recruitment, one member developed a membership brochure to be distributed in area museums and glass/gift galleries. In 1995 a member organized and still is custodian of the circulating PCA-TX Library. The club has a considerable assortment of books, journals, auction catalogs and bulletins, videotapes and related literature all centered on paperweights. These materials are for the use of our members to help educate and further their knowledge about paperweights and the makers.
1996 was a big year for PCA-TX. We celebrated our 10th Anniversary. The MSC (Memorial Student Center) Forsyth Center Galleries at Texas A&M University hosted our event with a large, special, member’s paperweight exhibit and commemorative picture catalog “A Texas Paperweight Celebration” published by The Forsyth Center Galleries. Through the exhibit and beautiful catalog we reached 8618 people who viewed the exhibit and visited with the PCA-TX member docents. PCA-TX started its own home page this year on the World Wide Web as another way to extend our reach. Our web address has recently changed to www.pcatx.org.
The following year our membership grew to 135. As the years went by our association with this university service has endured and grown. The Galleries have hosted a number of our meetings and they have arranged numerous special events for our organization including meetings, paperweight exhibits and foreign travel tours. We owe a great deal of thanks to them for helping further the art of the paperweight. Without their support, both educationally and financially, we could not have come so far so fast. Their organization, Friends of the Forsyth (FOF), is a big part of the reason for the catalog and exhibit “The Stars of Texas”. The membership of the Paperweight Collectors Association of Texas, Inc., gives them our gratitude.
We have come a long way in 17 years. One of our member couples, Don & Ruth Smith, upon his death, donated part of their collection to FOF. We received financial donations from ExxonMobil Cultural Matching Gift Program, thanks to our Federal educational status and thanks to their retired employee, Arthur R. Elder, our current President. PCA-TX has donated many paperweight-related books to libraries across the state. It made numerous financial donations including the scholarship fund honoring Paul Stankard at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York, and the Speakers Bureau of the American Museum of Glass in Wheaton Village at Millville, New Jersey. The Paperweight Collectors Association of Texas, Inc. is now fully incorporated giving us strength to reach more people and further education about paperweights. There are many people to thank who have helped make PCA-TX, Inc. the outstanding organization it is today. The list is endless. Please consider joining us as we reach for the Stars of Texas.
The PCA-TX Mission Statement “Our purpose is to foster the public awareness of paperweights and related glass art works, and promote education about the history and artistic merits of the glass paperweight art form. To accomplish this, we provide a forum for education and fellowship with other paperweight collectors, and promote sharing knowledge with other interested people. Our goal is to provide an atmosphere that is both entertaining and educational so that interested individuals may learn more fully about the fascination of glass paperweights and better appreciate their history and beauty.”