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Michael Stern

Two Cent Paperweight

Michael Stern


Soda-lime glass, copper, zinc.

3" d x 4" h.

Two Cents explores the chemical interaction between everyday pennies and molten glass. Each paperweight contains two pennies, one minted before 1982 and one since.

In 1982, the US Treasury reduced the penny's copper content from 95% to 2.5% as a cost-saving measure. Modern pennies are primarily comprised of a zinc core with a thin copper coating. When exposed to the high temperatures of molten glass, the zinc melts, then boils, transforming into a galaxy of metal-plated bubbles. The older penny remains intact due to the higher melting point of copper. The Two Cent Paperweight is a manifestation of Michael's experiments at the intersection of science and aesthetics. 


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