My work has been a mix of media throughout my 45-plus year career as a working artist. In 1978, I became an apprentice learning the Stained Glass industry under the tutelage of Al Chalmers Beck in Jupiter, Florida. In 1981, I opened my own custom stained glass studio, The Crystal Lady Inc., focusing on residential, commercial and ecclesial commissions, eventually relocating from Florida to New Bern, North Carolina, in 1984 and growing the business to 7 employees.
During those years working in conservative glass I began experimenting with 3-dimensional sculptural forms and wanted to grow beyond 2-dimensional works. After selling my glass business in 1999, I went back to school and began exploring the various art related subjects such as painting, printmaking, metals, and clay. Today I incorporate many materials, mostly clay, wood, and metals into my creations.
Operating a successful art-related business in my early career, along with the influences of a Fine Art Degree in my later years, set me on a path to change my work from decorative to concept-based ideas.
Stained Glass: Residential, Commercial Preservation.
I began my career as an apprenticeship under the tutelage of Alvin Chalmers Beck who was a restorer and artist in the Traditional Stained Glass industry in Columbus, Ohio. Mr. Chalmers retired his studio in New York and relocated to Jupiter, Florida, in the mid 1960s, opening a small studio to keep himself busy throughout his retirement years. I met Mr. Chalmers in 1978 and convinced him I would be an asset in helping him organize and run the studio if he would agree to take me on as an apprentice.
So, from 1978 to 1981 I learned many of the traditional restoration techniques, in the repair of old English leaded stained (colored) glass panels that were finding their way to Florida back then. Many of them were repaired and restored at Chalmers Stained Glass in Jupiter, Florida. Mr. Chalmers knew and shared the sources of many of the original glass factories, enabling us to match glass required to replace and restore these early panels. When we were not restoring broken panels, I focused on ecclesiastical, commercial, and residential commissions.
In 1982, I opened my own studio, The Crystal Lady, and continued to restore, repair, and create commission work for the ecclesiastical, commercial, and residential marketplace.
In 1992, met my partner, John Watson, and took a long break to live and travel on our Motor Yacht until we discovered New Bern, North Carolina.
In 1994, I relocated The Crystal Lady Custom Stained Glass Studio to the Historic District of New Bern, North Carolina, where I purchased a 100-year-old building which we restored and moved into on the second floor. Once the word got out that I had this knowledge, I was immediately back in business teaching classes, restoring, repairing, and taking commissions for the commercial and residential community. Much of my work can be seen on Middle Street in downtown today.
I sold my studio in 2001 and changed directions after receiving my BFA in ceramics at East Carolina University. Now, in mid-2019, I have come full circle as there is no one in eastern North Carolina that can restore the old historic Luxfer/prism transom tile panels that grace many of New Bern’s and other historic districts downtown. We have experience restoring these transoms and look forward to continuing that work here and throughout the state.
Earlier this year I went back to teaching glass classes and as the word got out, the residential commission work began to flourish.
Here we go again.