Historically our nation was primarily an agrarian society until late in the 19th century. The kind of crops we grew then and the ones we currently grow continue to shape our landscape as surely as the development of our towns and cities. New Jersey is a primary example of this economic shift. The sign on the bridge spanning the Delaware River at Trenton, our State’s capitol, says it all. North of Trenton, “industry rules,” while bucolic scenes often dominate the landscape south of this city. I’m from South Jersey where row and specialty agricultural crops as well as the wildness of our Pinelands inspire my paperweight themes. My American Bounty series includes a tribute to our Colonial agricultural heritage highlighted by stylized tobacco leaves, cotton boles, flowers, and wheat; my interpretation of the life cycle of the silkworm; and my appreciation of our state’s cranberry industry featuring the leaves, blossoms, and fruit as well as the essential honey bee that makes successful agriculture possible.
My recent visits to Haddonfield’s historic Indian King Tavern as well as a microbrewery suggest new design possibilities. I’m now in the process of brewing a Colonial favorite, beer that uses spruce tips which add a fresh, bright aroma to the mix. Quite possibly a paperweight featuring some of our marvelous Pinelands trees would be in order. Cheers!