NEIL ANDERSON; Department CO-Chair - Fine Jewelry
Neil didn’t get involved in metal arts until taking a beginning jewelry class to fulfill a requirement for a BFA degree in 1973. 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. Since then, Neil has been a self employed blacksmith/metalsmith and wood worker, doing mostly custom commissions.
LINDA BINGLE; Polymer clay
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 consider myself a multi-media artist, but my current passion is polymer clay because of its playful versatility.
DAN CALDWELL; Blacksmithing
Dan has been creating custom knives, swords, and axes for over 20 years. Each piece is unique and meticulously crafted. His eye for detail sets him apart. Many 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 DILLER; Woodworking
Ron’s personnel likes include carving subjects such as caricatures, songbirds and stylized animals. He also carves functional items such as whistles, bowls, spoons and pins. 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.
CLAUDIA ENGEL-RUSH; Department CO-Chair-Fine Jewelry
Born in Europe into a family of artists, Claudia was surrounded by an array of art mediums, from the visual arts to music. After moving to Illinois, she discovered the metals and jewelry program at NIU, where she graduated with a BFA and MFA. When creating a piece, whether it is organic, geometric or abstract, Claudia builds on the interplay between form and function.
SHERI MCDERMOTT; Lampwork Glass Beadmaking
I was always a “crafty” type person. Changing mediums often; until Spring of 2001 when I took a Fused glass class. That’s where my adventures with glass began. I got to the point that I wanted to be able to make more 3 dimensional items. It wasn’t until 2006 that I took a glass bead making class, and I knew there was no turning back. Thanks to the internet and a few books I am basically self taught. I love to watch the glass play, and see where it wants to go. It’s mesmerizing and therapeutic. My favorite beads to make are happy playful characters. (animals, aliens-anything with a face) I still fuse quite a bit and I recently began making components for fusing in my torch to insure each piece is unique and unable for me to replicate exactly.
MARY MERGES; Stained Glass
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.
ALAN SHONTZ; Glass Blowing
My passion for glass was nurtured and developed over twenty years as a student of Lance Friedman in Chicago and also inspired by workshops with artists Michael Schunke and Kait Rhoads. As a glass artist my interest is to continue exploring Venetian patterning techniques (cane and murrine) with both functional and non-functional forms. Glassblowing demands your undivided attention. It engages you both physically and mentally. Its reward is not just the tangible object but the entire creative experience. There is nothing like the glow of hot glass being shaped and worked. I enjoy sharing my passion for glass through teaching.
AMY SIMPSON; Fused Glass
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.
KATHERINE STEINBRING; Metal Clay
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 Clay Aida.