“My grandfather started the company in 1938 with a floral paperweight design and a dream that everyone could afford a piece of his glass. My goal is to develop a relationship with the next generation of collectors and gift givers.”
Joe Rice is a third generation art glass blower. He started helping out at his uncles’ glass studio when he was 12 and began his professional glass career there when he turned 16; getting paid $1 an hour. In 1987 Joe purchased The House of Glass, which he now co-owns with his own daughter.
While Joe continues to make his grandfather’s traditional flower glass paperweight, he also produces paperweights with other designs, decorative glass art and collector class glass marbles. Joe recently began doing more corporate work as well, offering sandblasted paperweights and customized works.
The Indiana Artisan program appealed to Joe as a way to develop broader relationships, especially with younger audiences. “We were always so busy taking care of customers that we didn’t look to develop marketing or products for next generation,” Joe says. “The biggest advantage of the program is it allows artisans who do this professionally to lean on the State for support.”
A self-described production designer, Joe also considers himself to be a glass historian. He enjoys sharing the history of glass making with the group and students who visit the studio. He opens his studio daily for free to group tours and field trips.
“Frequently three generations of family members come to see us to introduce the experience to their kids. They come back to watch us work, connect to the traditions and learn about the glass.”