Sunday, February 3, 2008
The YSU grad got interested in marbles when he was a child.
By TRACEY D’ASTOLFO
Carl Fisher has made a name for himself with his marbles.
The former Youngstown resident started making marbles two years ago, and is now one of the country’s most highly collected contemporary marble artists.
His marbles are artistic and colorful, but what makes them unique is that they are made out of clay. Most commercially made marbles are made of glass.
Fisher makes each marble by hand, and doesn’t use a spherical form. So how does he get them so perfectly round?
“Did you ever make a meatball? That’s it,” he explained. “Only four or five in the world make marbles this way.”
Fisher is an Ursuline High School graduate with a degree in civil engineering from Youngstown State University. He lives in Aurora with his wife, Francesca, and works for IBM.
Fisher played marbles — and collected them — as a child. He began collecting marbles again after he started dating his wife.
“She was a collector and liked to go to antique sales and estate sales,” he said. “I noticed marbles at a lot of the estate sales.”
After Francesca brought him to the American Toy Marble Museum in Akron as a birthday surprise, he was hooked again and resumed collecting in earnest.
Vintage glass marbles can be costly, said Fisher, and after speaking to a woman who creates beads out of polymer clay, he decided to try to re-create with clay the marbles he couldn’t afford. He would use these as “placeholders” in his collection until he could replace them with the real thing.
He bought colored polymer clay and attempted to make a marble called a Superman, with less than satisfactory results. But over a short time — he has been making marbles for only two years — he perfected the art. Fisher’s marbles are now collected by both vintage and contemporary collectors worldwide.
The polymer clay Fisher’s marbles are made from is the same material used for PVC plumbing pipes, but you would never know it by looking at them. Not only are they perfectly round, but they are as shiny and glossy as glass marbles, thanks to a special glaze Fisher uses.
“That’s my secret,” said Fisher. “Some people use clear nail polish or other things, but I have my own glaze.”
Clay marbles, unlike glass marbles, are warm to the touch. They are also lighter than glass, but stronger and more durable.
Fisher sells his marbles on eBay and at marble shows, including the Buckeye Marble Show — one of the largest in the country — Saturday in New Philadelphia.
Most of his designs are reproductions of rare, vintage glass marbles, but he also makes his own designs. He said the copies sell best, with collectors using them as “placeholders” until they acquire the authentic marble.
To learn more about Fisher, go to carlfishermarbles.com.