Neil Anderson & Claudia Engel-Rush, 3D Department Chairs
Neil Anderson – Jewelry and Blacksmithing
Linda Bingle – Polymer clay
Dan Caldwell – Blacksmithing
Ron Diller – Woodworking
Dawn Donati – Fused Glass
Claudia Engel-Rush – Fine Jewelry
Sheri McDermott - Lampwork Glass Beadmaking
Mary Merges – Stained Glass
Amy Simpson - Fused Glass
Katherine Steinbring – PMC (Precious Metal Clay)
Neil didn’t get involved in metal arts until taking a beginning jewelry class to fulfill a requirement for a design BFA degree in 1973. He had just returned from the army and had a few classes remaining for his undergraduate degree at NIU. His professor and mentor Lee Peck had a blacksmithing workshop that Neil attended. This started him on the path to a MFA in metalsmithing and jewelry design, completed at NIU in 1977. Neil specialized in hand forged ironwork and wood working with some major jewelry pieces completed as well. A few large graduate works incorporated and ironwork and hardwoods as furniture. A one year Artist-In-Residence followed the graduate program. Since then, Neil has been a self employed blacksmith/metalsmith and wood worker, doing mostly custom commissions. He’s also done many art fairs around the Midwest.In 1994 Neil returned to teach at NIU with his former professor Lee Peck, as an adjunct professor in the metalsmithing/jewelry art department. He also served on many graduate student committees during his nine years of university teaching. Neil began teaching at the Fine Line in 1999.
I have always thought of myself as an artist all my life, no matter what other jobs I have been working. I grew up surrounded by my father’s paintings and my mother’s craft projects, and have always had a love for design, color, and texture. I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts in the area of painting from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and have also studied pastels, jewelry and metalworking, printmaking, fiber arts, collage, and creativity. I have had homes in Illinois, Colorado, and Hawaii, and each place has informed my artistic style and aesthetic. I consider myself a multi-media artist, but my current passion is polymer clay because of its playful versatility.
Dan has been creating custom knives, swords, and axes for almost 20 years. Each piece is unique and meticulously crafted. His eye for detail sets him apart. Ten years ago he began creating custom exterior iron art for high end landscape contractors, that has lead to many different wrought iron projects. Dan has created custom gates, fireplace covers, grates and accessories He graduated from NIU with a BS in Design.
Ron’s personnel likes include carving subjects such as caricatures, songbirds and stylized animal carvings. He also carves functional items such as whistles, bowls, spoons and pins. Some carvings require that extra touch such as painting, finishing, constructing a background or scene, along with a base and/or case. These requirements lead Ron to experience and be able to teach basic wood burning, woodturning, metal forming (brass and copper), soldering and painting to complete a detailed carving. Ron is mostly a self-taught carver but gives credit to what he’s learned from peers and master carvers while observing and taking classes over the years. Ron has taught and mentored members of the North Suburban and Batavia Carvers, of which he is a member.
Dawn believes that glass can tell a story as it bends and reflects light. Captivated by the Steampunk movement. She takes delight in using found objects and incorporating them into her art. Simply put She loves making whimsical boxes, For 15 years she has worked on perfecting her craft. Working with fused glass as well as stained glass. When it comes to design if you can’t find it make it. She has enjoyed teaching workshops at camping festivals, with no electricity it takes a lot of ingenuity, teamwork and a lot of laughs at the end of the day. dawndonati.com
Born in Europe into a family of artists, Claudia was surrounded by an array of art mediums, from the visual arts to music. Living and learning in three different countries and cultures brought together a variety of perspectives and ideas. Claudia says, “art has been a driving force in my life”. She began as a water colorist and a graphic artist and then dove into other areas like stained glass, fibers and drawing. After moving to Illinois, she discovered the metals and jewelry program at NIU, where she graduated with honors with a BFA and and then an MFA. Her jewelry and sculptural pieces have been shown in galleries both nationally and internationally, most recently just outside Paris. When creating a piece, whether it is organic, geometric or abstract, Claudia builds on the interplay between form and function. She has been teaching at The Fine Line since 2004.
A flat glass artist for 22 years and a potter for 19 years, I have been associated with Fine Line for over 20 years. Fascination with natural light and its effect on glass color and texture is my focus when encouraging students to explore their own creativity. From the simplest sun catcher to a large window, stained glass opens a world of beauty and color to our lives.
This complex and compelling art form first captured my attention in 2006, when, after repeated recommendations from fellow artists, I enrolled in a class at my local community college. Though I have a background in painting and metalsmithing, fused glass has become my medium of choice.
The infinite possibilities presented by glass fusing keep me intrigued and challenged. There exists a level of surprise in the creation of each piece as fusing results differ with the slightest alteration. Colors can change during firings due to chemical reactions. Variances in heat produce different results and textures. There is no formula for any given piece or firing. Each success is a little bit of magic and a little bit of science.
Katherine Steinbring has been playing with creative stuff for almost 60 years and remembers paper dolls, cloth-loop potholders and lanyards as some of her favorites. She has a degree in art from Illinois State and one in education from NIU. Retired after teaching high school (both art and English) for 32 years, she discovered metal clay one Saturday at Fine Line and has been obsessed with it ever since. She takes classes with whatever masters are giving workshops and is certified in metal clay through Art Clay Silver/Aida. Presently she is working at combining her metal clay pieces with polymer, viking knit and clay components.