Whether her work of art is inspired from a personal photo, a patron’s photo, or as a form of play thru geometric design, Gretchen Niver receives great pleasure creating and sharing her paintings made of glass. “I grew up doing various crafts with my mom, went into Graphic Design in college, and continued doing crafts such as batik, screen printing, calligraphy, and air brushing. But once I tried my hand at stained glass I fell in love.”
GN Designs, Gretchen’s Studio, has been opened to the public every December for the last twenty years. In the late 80s she learned to work with traditional copper foil stained glass while working in a stained glass shop in Cary, North Carolina. Wanting to carry her art into a new home she was building with her husband in 1995, Gretchen taught herself how to fuse glass in order to make glass tiles.
Now she creates stunning works of art using both traditional stained glass methods as well as fusing pieces of glass on top of other pieces of glass. The effect is similar to applying layers of glazes in oil painting… BUT THIS IS GLASS! When light passes through Gretchen’s two and three-dimensional artworks MAGIC HAPPENS. While melting, fusing, braiding, and slumping glass requires scientific know how, the “art part” is any thing but scientific. In order to melt the glass, it is placed in a kiln and then must be heated to at least 1480 degrees. While Gretchen’s artistic intentions are often well determined in advance of a firing, often the final piece is a quixotic mixture of science, art, and chance. She is playing with fire after all. Sometimes the process causes frustration for the artist. But mostly she finds it very exciting. “It is the movement of light streaming through the glass that always fascinates. I do not see a time when I won’t want to continue creating artworks with glass.”
Gretchen always works very hard to prepare for the Chatham Artists Guild Studio Tour. She has made plenty of budget friendly pieces for visitors to take home and give as gifts. When you stop by her studio the first two weekends in December you will find small ornaments, glass bowls, medium and large panels, and portions of panels waiting to be soldered in place with traditional stained glass components. She welcomes commission work as well so feel free to approach this very approachable artist. “The complexity of a project design determines the cost, and estimates are made in many cases by the square footage of the project.”
Also when you visit Gretchen do not miss this opportunity to visit the five other artisans who will be SHARING SPACE with her at 758 Ravens Lane. You can fine them on pages 11 & 12 in your Studio Tour brochure. These artists are Painter Mary Charlton, Woodworker Jerry Fowler, Basket Weaver Eva Green, Sculptor Janice Rieves*, and Woodworker Diane Swan*. *Janice Rieves and Diane Swan are available FIRST WEEKEND ONLY.
They have also prepared the space to make your traveling just a few miles southwest of Downtown Pittsboro a very warm, inviting, and successful holiday shopping experience.