Here’s how a fascinating hobby turned into a dream business…
Fred Wilkerson made his first paperweight in 1975, at the age of twelve, when his father, a worker at Fostoria Glass, built a furnace to make paperweights as a hobby. Fred worked alongside his father as much as possible, while studying his every move with profound curiosity. He spent the next ten years polishing his skills before enlisting in the United States Air Force. In 1989, after serving his country for four years, Fred returned to his passion of making glass and decided to make Wilkerson Glass his full-time career, where he would work alongside with his father.
Today, almost thirty years later, Wilkerson Glass is still going strong. On most days, you will find the father-son duo hard at work. Almost every immediate family member has participated in the glassmaking process at some point in time, as some jobs require a set of extra hands. Fred’s daughter, Dalis Wilkerson, shares her father’s love of creating glass paperweights. She has taken the talent and skill learned from her father to Oglebay Park in Wheeling, WV where she currently demonstrates the art of paperweight-making to park visitors at Oglebay Institute’s Carriage House Glass Museum.
Wilkerson Glass, located in Moundsville, West Virginia, has sold paperweights as far as Germany and Austria, and throughout the United States. They have also done contracted work for companies such as Owens Corning and Danbury Mint, as well as The White House.