By Graham Boettcher, PhD, the William Carey Hulsey Curator of American Art
The BMA has a fine collection of “glass house whimsies”—also known as “end-of-the-day glass”—which were items made by glass workers on their own time, for their own use and enjoyment, or to demonstrate their skill. These include glass canes, smoking pipes, swords, gavels, and this colorful rolling pin, recently given by longtime BMA docent Anne Burnette and her sister, Juanita Kilpatrick. Typically, any knowledge of who made individuals whimsies was forgotten long ago. This piece, however, was made by Burnette’s great-grandfather, James Hugh Maliff (1852-1918). Born in Illinois, Maliff became a glass blower, and worked in glass companies around the country, including Massachusetts, West Virginia, Indiana, and Tennessee. Burnette was given the rolling pin by her great-aunt, an avid cook, who used it frequently.