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Coastal Culture

Coastal Culture

Needing something to do while she was confined to a wheelchair, Savarese began creating gifts out of stained glass for fellow airmen, “usually going-away gifts and things like that.”

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Coastal Culture
Chris Panther works with glass frit, painting poinsettias on her Christmas ornaments.

Handmade glassware that’s a gift from the heart

by Jackie Nunnery

Lynn Savarese owes her current life as a glass artist to a broken leg suffered over 20 years ago while still in the Air Force. Savarese had previously taken a stained-glass class with her late husband, Jim, and although he had no interest in the craft after that, Savarese admits she “was addicted.”

Needing something to do while she was confined to a wheelchair, Savarese began creating gifts out of stained glass for fellow airmen, “usually going-away gifts and things like that.”

A few years later, Savarese stumbled on fused glass, which “became really popular around 2000, 2004,” she said.

While she loved the play of glass and light with stained glass, what she could produce with fused glass was vastly different. They say every artist finds their medium and apparently Savarese had found hers.

In its simplest definition and form, fused glass pieces are made by layering glass (called stacking) and then bonding them together in a kiln at high heat. But that is just the beginning for Savarese.

“There are so many applications,” she said. “I love the chemistry of it. If you layer glass high in copper with glass high in sulfur, you get an interesting effect—a line of color—when they melt together.” She also uses glass frit, which is powdered glass that can be painted on glass for an entirely different effect.

After Savarese retired in 2006, her husband built her a studio and she began experimenting, teaching herself through trial and error along with finding great instructors online. In the years since, she has built up a collection of tools and techniques that have allowed her to express herself creatively. And she’s sharing all that knowledge and joy of creative expression with others by teaching.

Savarese opens up her studio, Falling Pines Fused Glass, on Mondays and Wednesdays. In the lower level of her Heathsville home, her studio regularly fills with a group of enthusiastic students, like Chris Panther, who enjoy one another’s company along with the opportunity to use Savarese’s workspace, guidance and support. It doesn’t hurt that someone also always brings some sort of treat to share with the group.

“Lynn is an awesome teacher. She’s full of positivity and encouragement,” Panther said.

Since August, the group, Savarese included, has been busy working like Santa’s elves on Christmas projects. While not everything they’re working on has a Christmas theme, they are all making something to give to others for the holiday.

“That’s one of my favorite things about making these pieces. It’s being able to give them away,” Savarese said.

Savarese sells quite a few pieces too. In addition to commissioned pieces, her work is regularly snapped up at the Art of Coffee in Montross, Hague Winery and the RAL Art Center.

For Christmas this year, she is on her way to her goal of 200 pieces, focusing on functional and decorative home décor, like bowls, plates, hanging artwork and ornaments.

She tries to do something a little different each year, but there are some favorites—her dragonflies and crabs in particular—that she makes sure she includes too. This year, Savarese is putting a Christmas spin on the crabs, calling them her “Santa claws.”

Savarese’s Santa claws will be available at the RAL Art Center’s Christmas Shop, November 26-December 28. For classes or commissions, contact Savarese at 5fallingpines@gmail.com.