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Adelmo Joseph Tarsitano “Del”, who was born on March 31, 1921 on his parents farm in Castelo, Italy, came to the United States with his family when he was six months old. He was raised in Queens, New York and lived with his wife Kathryn in Valley Stream, where they raised three children, Frank, Sam and Debbie. He passed away on November 11, 1990. In the late 1960s Del’s interest turned to antiques. Visiting flea markets, antique shows and auctions with his wife and daughter Debbie, he started collecting and dealing with antique paperweights in 1971. This interest in weights led to a desire to learn to make them. Del took a short glassblowing course in the early seventies. Working with a borrowed torch, Del began experimenting with making weights before going to work each morning, then while he was at work Debbie was in their “studio” learning all she could about glass. Each evening, father and daughter would share what they had discovered that day. Del’s first successful weight was made in 1976, which he turned into a full time occupation in 1979.
Debbie Ann Tarsitano-Stankard was born in Queens, New York on September 13, 1955. As an accomplished paperweight artist she attended a paperweight event where Paul Stankard and his older brother Martin were also in attendance. A long distance courtship followed, leading to marriage. Martin and Debbie live in the Westford, Massachusetts area.
Working independently but sharing all that they had learned with each other, Del and Debbie mastered the intricacies of creating lampwork designs and encasing them in glass to form paperweights. Debbie’s first successful paperweights were made in 1976. Debbie has moved on to sculptural glass, having not made any weights for several years.
Excerpted from The Dictionary of Glass Paperweights, Paul H. Dunlop, Papier Presse 2009.