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James David Brown was born on Jan. 7, 1949 in Detroit, Michigan. An interest in engineering prompted him to earn a BSME degree in mechanical engineering at Vanderbilt University, in 1976, while in the service. He served in the US Navy from 1972 through 1981, receiving a commission as an officer on completion of college. He was attached to the USS Hassayampa, based in Pearl Harbor, traveling extensively in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
In 1981 Jim entered civilian life where he continued working as a mechanical engineer. For a number of years he has lived with his wife, Denise in the Nashville, Tennessee area. In 1995 Jim started collecting, with a primary interest in antique millefiori weights. “The antique weights evoke a sense of wonder and aesthetic bliss in me that no modern weight has ever been able to do." The chance to “make his own” paperweight at Wheaton Village, NJ was the start of becoming more than just a collector. In 2000 he started learning to work with glass at Tennessee Technological University. Here he learned the basics of working with glass in a department headed by sculptor Curtis Brock. As Brown has chosen to work with millefiori, a technique unknown to most glass departments, that part of his learning has had to be self taught. Having a background in engineering has been invaluable.
Jim concentrates on millefiori weights in the tradition of Bacchus. Some canes are complex but it is his large fluffy ruffles which give his weights their “look”. A good range of colors is used and he has developed a nice variety of canes in a short period. He makes closepacks, close concentrics and carpet grounds and has experimented with other designs.
Excerpted from The Dictionary of Glass Paperweights, Paul H. Dunlop, Papier Presse 2009.